Daily 宇良 (ooh-rah) is a month-long project. One illustration of sumo wrestler 宇良和輝 (Ura Kazuki) was created for each day of February, for a total of 28 images.
The intention behind this project was to challenge myself to create with constraints and to learn everything I can about world of grand sumo.
These were the rules I gave myself:
- Base it on research but leave room for personal interpretation
- Depart from the comfort zone frequently
- Switch illustration styles, daily if possible
- Finish each image before midnight
There were some successful pieces, but certainly a few duds too. The beauty of a daily challenge is having the chance to hit reset at 12:00 a.m.
How this project came about:
宇良和輝 (Ura Kazuki) is a young sumo wrestler from Osaka. He’s known for two main things: One, his acrobatic style of sumo that frequently renders him airborne; two, his vivid, eye-catching, pink wrestling belt (a mawashi).
As I researched Ura’s background and training, I realized he was the perfect vehicle through which I could learn more about sumo and fully embrace a daily project. Particularly because:
- Asian athletes don’t have a lot of visibility
- This was an opportunity to experiment without consequences
- Pink is a fun color that I don’t typically get to work with
Sumo, in brief:
The national sport of Japan, grand sumo dates back over a millennia, and official records precede the founding of the United States. It’s an exciting sport saturated with history, ceremony, and inevitably craftsmanship. Everything utilized in grand sumo, including garments and ritual objects, is always created by an artisan’s hand — beautiful and precious enough to make a designer’s heart beat fast.
Motifs in this project:
Sakura: Ura’s mawashi is the color of cherry blossoms. Sometimes, sakura cannot be used, so the motif is instead carried through by other pink florals. Sakura also bloom during the spring tournament that takes place every year in Osaka, Ura’s hometown.
The moon: Both Ura’s training stable (Kise Beya) and his university (Kwaisei Gakuin) share a moon symbol in their branding.
Butterflies: Another motif in Kise’s branding, this symbol also brings to mind that adage of a floating butterfly (and a stinging bee, which I’ll skip because punches are not a legal move in sumo). Ura is known for his agility and ring sense; he tends to bounce around the entire ring during a match, always keeping his opponents guessing.