Name: Shingo Ohno
Places where you’ve lived and worked: Japan, Singapore and UK
- Creative Director, RGA Singapore (2021- Present)
- Creative Director, Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo (2018 – 2020)
- Art Director, Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo (2007-2018)
- Director, TYO inc, Tokyo Japan (1998-2007)
1. How did you end up being a creative?
I was born in Tokyo. As a kid, I loved drawing and always did well in art. However, I had no job or plans for my future when I graduated from high school. So I played StreetFighter 2 at a friend’s house almost daily.
And at night, I kept playing the guitar. Sometimes I recorded songs on a multi-track cassette tape recorder, experimenting with mixing various styles – like heavy metal and country. Finally, after half a year, I was seriously bored and began job-hunting. I thought I could draw well, so maybe I could be a designer. But of course, no company wanted to hire me. So I decided to attend art school, where I learned graphic design.
After graduation, I became a director at TYO ID Inc, a digital production company under the TYO group. Then joined W+K Tokyo as an art director and became a creative director. Now, I work at R/GA Singapore.
2. What’s your favourite piece of work in your portfolio?
Nike Music Shoe. We wanted to highlight the shoes’ flexibility. Usually, people would not care about a product demo – but for this, we added entertainment to keep people watching. I was the project’s art director – but I also worked with the musician and tech team to perfect the work. I even made a sound file for the shoe.
This project was perfect for me because I love music, technology and a mixture of funny and cool things happening simultaneously. I know it’s an old piece, but it’s still my favourite work. And I would love to do more work like this!
3. What’s your favourite piece of work created by someone else?
The Fender Stratocaster. This legendary electric guitar has the perfect design. I cannot believe it was invented almost 70 years ago. Imagine any other product from 70 years ago – a car, fashion, architecture– everything would look old and dated. But the Stratocaster still looks fresh and remains one of this era’s most popular electric guitars. It also tremendously changed music history. There is nothing like it.
4. What/who are your key creative influences?
Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Sly Stone, Frank Zappa, a lot of 70s music, John McEntire, Tom Jenkinson, a lot of post rock and electronica from 90-00s, D’Angelo, Haruomi Hosono, Cornelius, Jacob Collier, Coen brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, Michel Gondry, Paul Rand, Bauhaus, Yusaku Kamekura, Takuya Onuki, Shinro Ohtake, John Maeda, Downtown (Japanese comedian), Gundam, Dr. Slump, Jimihen (manga) etc.
5. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
For a performance, I connected my guitar to a tesla coil which could create actual lightning. When I played “Thunderstruck – AC/DC”, it exploded and a fire broke out. Fortunately, the fire was not too big and no one died.
6. What career did you think you’d have when you were a kid?
I considered being a professional guitarist. But I realised the music I love is kind of niche and if I become a musician, I would have to do a lot of things that I do not like for money. So, I decided not to be a professional musician to keep music special for me. That was probably the best decision of my life.
7. Tell us about the worst job you ever had
Before going to art school, I had a job as a telemarketer who tried to convince magazine editors to publish information about a casino discount campaign. I was fired within a month. I appreciate it because if I succeeded then, I would not have gone to art school and would have a completely different life.
8. What advice would you give to 10-year-old you, if you could?
Ignore your father when he says: “You don’t need to learn English because you are Japanese.” If you follow his advice, you will regret it.
9. What really motivates you?
If I will actually live to be 100 years old, I’m not even at the halfway point. I really have to keep learning and changing. It is more than a motivation for me, it is more like an obsession.
10. Do you have any secret or odd talents?
I can play the guitar on a RipStik (a 2-wheeled skateboard)
11. What’s your favorite music / film / TV show / book / other of the past year, and why?
It’s from last year but I love this album so much. It is called ‘Notes With Attachments by Pino Palladino and Blake Mills.