Staff Reporters
Sep 23, 2021

Creative Minds: How Yuya Yamazaki became master of many forms

The Japan-based creative director answers 11 of our questions. Learn how Keanu Reeves set him on his path, what inspires him, how he'd spend his perfect day, and why his 'crazy' hobby has netted him 64,000 Instagram followers.

Creative Minds: How Yuya Yamazaki became master of many forms

Name: Yuya Yamazaki 

Origin: Gunma, Japan

Places lived/worked: Gunma, Kanagawa, Kyoto and Tokyo

Pronouns: He/him/his

CV:

  • Mediabrands Content Studio Japan: head of studio / creative director / content solution unit director, Tokyo (2021*)
  • McCann Tokyo: Communication designer / creative planner (2019)
  • UM Japan: Content director, Tokyo (2018)
  • Enjin: Associate communication designer / producer, Tokyo (2016)
  • UM Japan: Digital planner / experience architect, Tokyo (2011)
  • Hatena: Sub-director / strategic planner, Kyoto (2010)
  • Quaras: Interactive media planner, Tokyo (2006)

1. How did you end up being a creative?

What sparked my interest in creative work was my encounter with the movie Terminator 2 and the movie The Matrix. I was overwhelmed by the computer graphics, VFX, and other visual expressions in the movies. Later, at university, I joined a film club and worked hard on video production. As a part-time job, I enjoyed working as a program production assistant at a local cable TV station. Having spent so much time in the world of making things as a student, I inevitably began to think that one day I would like to work as a film director, commercial director, or other creative person. I also happened to have studied a wide range of basic skills in digital literacy and technology at university, such as computer graphics, programming, database construction, website creation and video editing. I decided to enter the advertising industry, which offered many possibilities for creative work.

I started my career in digital media planning. From there, the needs for social content, PR content, digital content production, and digital asset/landing page production increased, and I began to do creative work in the form of digital-based communication planning and content development. I was also transferred to a sister creative agency and to the creative department, and as a result, I was able to expand my creativity to include not only digital, but also mass media, branding, PR, social and data-driven marketing.

What is interesting about creative work is that there is no "right answer." The more you learn, the more interesting and frightening it becomes to realise that all output exists after all creators have gone through a lot of pain. However, the process of working together with various partners and cooperating companies, including the client, and the sense of accomplishment after the launch is irreplaceable and very rewarding.

2. What's your favourite piece of work in your portfolio?

Is Japan Cool? Dou – 道, The Tangible Manner (by Enjin for ANA)

Dou is the way of life that comes close to reaching the essence of existence in pursuit of one’s own field.

This digital content is a data visualisation of the intangible culture of Japanese art and martial arts. It was a meaningful challenge to preserve Japanese culture in the form of data, featuring nine "ways" and their masters. I feel very honored to have been able to do this work. [See Campaign's coverage of this work from 2015: "ANA aims to make intangible Japanese culture tangible".]

3. What's your favourite piece of work created by someone else?

Fearless Girl (by McCann New York for State Street Global Advisors)

The meaning of the word "creative" has changed between before and after 'Fearless Girl', hasn't it? I think so. That's how much I think it's wonderful work that brought impact and change to the world. It gave me a chance to rethink the common sense and stereotypes about the possibilities of creativity, the mission of creativity, and the role of creativity.

4. What's the craziest thing you've ever done?

I have a hobby Instagram account (@cafetyo) with about 64,000 followers. I've been posting a picture [of a new café or coffee shop in Tokyo] every day for about five years. When I talk about this to people, most people are very surprised and I also think I'm crazy.


5. What's on your bucket list?

I would like to go on a space trip. It can be the moon, Mars, or anywhere. I have always loved science-fiction movies and movies set in the future. Ever since I was little, I have been fascinated by space. I have always received various inspirations from it. What is a vehicle, spaceship, robot, technology, alien, human? The list goes on and on. I imagine that if I could actually go to space, I would be able to create new ideas and sensations that I don't have now.

6. What career did you think you'd have when you were a kid?

A professional athlete. When I was a young soccer boy, the professional soccer league had just started in Japan. My heroes at that time were the professional soccer players that were featured on TV every day. I really wanted to be like them. Of course, I didn't just play soccer and watch the games every day, I also watched soccer cartoons and anime, and played soccer video games. If YouTube had been available at that time, I would have watched and studied YouTube every day.

7. What really motivates you?

Continue to aim to win a Grand Prix at Cannes Lions or The One Show or the Clios. That I haven't given up, and I won’t give up.

8. What would you do on your perfect day?

Nothing. I don't want to do anything. I want to spend my time in a place with a lot of nature, mountains, rivers, the ocean, etc., and just relax.

9. What's the last song/artist you listened to?

10. What movie/show do you never get tired of?

All Ghibli films, such as Princess Mononoke, Porco Rosso, and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.

Ghibli movies are everything to me. Ever since I was a child, I have watched them over and over again. I've watched them so many times that I can say every line of almost every movie. There is no other work that is so interesting to watch over and over again. Of course, each Ghibli film has a different worldview, but I feel that I have learned something like the 'spirit of adventure' and 'way of life'. Even now, whenever I have time, I watch Ghibli movies.

11. Cats or dogs?

As a way of living, I aspire to how cats live.

In Creative Minds, we get to know APAC creatives through their answers to 11 questions—three required and the rest from a long list ranging from serious to silly. Want to be featured? Contact us.

* Shortly after publication of this article we learned that Yamazaki has recently left Mediabrands Content Studio Japan. The article has been updated to reflect this.

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