Naomi is a hustler. She adapts according to what a project needs, but never loses her unique aesthetic perspective. She proves that just having an idea isn’t enough. Drive and follow through fuel her creative process.
American Giant: Can you tell us who you are and what you do?
Naomi Otsu: I’m Naomi Otsu. I’m a graphic designer and illustrator that’s based in Brooklyn, New York.
AG: How did you get started?
NO: I was really into art at a really young age, so it kind of came to me naturally. I went to Parson’s and discovered graphic design and illustration and couldn’t decide between the two so I ended up doing both for my career.
AG: And you started off at Opening Ceremony, right?
NO: Yeah, that was my first internship. I was taking a publishing design class and my teacher recommended me to the Art Director, Sue Barber, for an internship. And I started interning there in 2010…I knew I wanted to work there and one of my friends was like, ‘Well, they’re not gonna just give you the job – you should just ask for it. Because interns come and go all they time. They don’t know that you want to work there.’
“But ever since I left New York I’ve always wanted to come back, even when I was young, something about the energy was just so mesmerizing.”
AG: So you were doing actual textile design?
NO: Yeah, yeah! The art department there is super small and we were in charge of everything. From package design to website updates, splash pages. We were also in charge of the displays and product development. And obviously textile design which was my favorite part. So we’d do all the textiles for our in-house collection and then also for our collaborative collections that we did.
AG: Do you still find New York City as a source of inspiration for you?
NO: Yeah! I was actually born and raised here until I was eight – not the city, but Westchester. And after that I moved to Japan for ten years. But ever since I left New York I’ve always wanted to come back, even when I was young, something about the energy was just so mesmerizing. I came back here and there’s just so much to do and there’s always something going on and people are always crazy and there’s just so much to feed off of. The thing about New York is that it’s always changing. It’s really hard to get bored of it.
“our goal is to really represent women who aren’t in mainstream media, not just fashion, but really interesting parts of the industry.”
AG: Can you talk about Top Rank Magazine -it’s really great work.
Thank you! So the creative director, Christelle de Castro, I actually used to work with her at Opening Ceremony. She actually approached me to do the design for the magazine…Our goal is to really represent women who aren’t in mainstream media, not just fashion, but really interesting parts of the industry. Whether they’re doctors or chefs, we’re really hoping to expand that horizon and give those people credit and exposure.
AG: Are you still working a lot of We8That? It’s such a great blog.
Yeah, we actually just relaunched the blog. I redesigned the blog and we optimized the layout for mobile view. We’re really trying to put more energy into that and collaborate with more people and we’re super excited.
“I think it’s really just important to get off your ass and just do it”
AG: So do you have any words of wisdom for young designers coming up?
NO: I think my whole philosophy is that you just have to do it. If you have an idea – I see a lot of people sitting on ideas and they’re not sure of themselves – the thing is that you’re always going to feel that way about idea and creative things, but you just have to do it and see where it takes you. I think it’s really just important to get off your ass and just do it and suck it up.