Mac on Tokyo: Livio Ramondelli
World-famous artist Livio Ramondelli is carving out a space as one of the most prolific Transformers artists of all time. We are extremely honoured that he has collaborated with Maction Planet on an EXCLUSIVE new apparel line, which showcases his incredible diversity and vision. In this special edition of “Mac on Tokyo” Livio talks to Mac, Founder of Maction Planet, about his unique designs and how his love of Tokyo inspired this and other work.
Maction Planet: Hi Livio. Welcome to Maction Planet! Thanks for joining us today and making time for us around your busy work and convention schedule. And, of course, thank you for working with Maction Planet to produce this great line of Tokyo-inspired apparel. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did?
Livio Ramondelli: It’s a pleasure to chat with you! And I had a great time working with Maction Planet. Tokyo is one of my absolute favorite cities. I’ve gotten to visit four times now, and it’s a place I want to keep returning to for the rest of my life.
MP: Tough question to encapsulate, but what is it about the city that you love so much?
LR: There’s so much about it- the mix of history and the future on display on virtually every corner of the city is just stunning. I’m also a huge Blade Runner fan- on my first trip to Tokyo I was walking through neon-lit streets while it was raining and it was about as close to being in Blade Runner as you could imagine. It’s still a powerful memory for me. The entire city has the feeling of being a massive movie-set, with surprises and things to explore down every street.
MP: You have been to Tokyo several times now. Are there any particular areas of the city which you try and make sure you visit each time you are here?
LR: My favorite area of the city might be Golden Gai- it’s always a new experience and adventure each time. I really like Shinjuku and Shibuya- there’s some great bars and restaurants. I always try to hit Akihabara for the toys. And I usually make a trip to Harajuku just to visit one of the only two Hot Toys action figure shops in the world.
MP: We are definitely in agreement on some of the hottest parts of the city. Last time you were here we had a great time in Golden Gai and the surrounding area. Any favourite aspects of Japanese cuisine you love?
LR: We definitely had fun in Golden Gai, for sure. As for cuisine- it’s no surprise, but the sushi in Tokyo is stunning. I’ve never had a bad bite of sushi no matter which random spot I stopped in.
MP: It’s clear you have a good grounding in all things Tokyo. How has the city influenced your art, especially given the genre that you currently work in – robots and futuristic design?
LR: Ever since visiting Tokyo I’ve tried to increase the amount of visual information in a shot when I’m drawing a city now. Layering in a lot more levels than I would in the past. Most bars in Golden Gai, for example, pack so many items and posters and bottles into such a tiny space it’s really remarkable. It’s a style created by necessity, and it’s fascinating. Just like the hotel rooms generally – they’re small, but so well designed that they feel comfortable. It’s a city that expertly uses its space.
MP: That seems like an appropriate segway into talking about each design. Let’s start with my favorite (although they are all, of course, great) – The Tower of Tokyo.
LR: For the Tower of Tokyo one I wanted to capture the kind of kinetic energy and detail of the city. There’s SO much to look at on any one building in Tokyo, let alone a full city block. And so this first image is a mixture of photos I took myself and hand-painting. I intentionally layered things on top of one another so it felt like an overall mood of a city rather than a snapshot of a specific street.
MP: Fantastic. I think it evokes Brueghel’s Tower of Babel, which by coincide has been in Tokyo on loan this year! The sense of man’s desire to build, higher and higher, never-ending – and for anyone who has climbed one of Tokyo’s heights, the Tokyo Skytree, the Tokyo Tower itself, or Roppongi Hills, the city really is never ending!
LR: For sure. The city really is an endless maze of neon and activity. I feel like it permeates most every neighborhood in Tokyo- you’ve really got to look hard to find a more subdued area. And even then, I miss the activity!
MP: Whether we are in Cherry Blossom season or not, your ‘Floating Sakura‘ design is timeless. Talk to us about this one.
LR: Thanks! With this one, I wanted to do something that symbolized Tokyo without showing anything of the city itself. No neon, no skyscrapers or even historic temples. I wanted to show the natural side of the region, and floating Cherry Blossoms seemed to have the sort of romantic notion I was after.
MP: They certainly do. It’s a very powerful message, and captures the mono no aware which is a key part of the philosophy of hanami. Speaking of powerful, your ‘Shadow Torii’ design on a black t-shirt is impactful and arresting
LR: With that one, I wanted to try something more stark and graphic. And explore the idea of the illustration being something of a “hole” through the shirt itself, that could be placed large on the chest, or small on the shoulder, etc. And for the image itself I wanted to echo more of the historical shapes of Tokyo, mixed with the greenery.
MP: It looks great smack bang in the middle of the chest. I’m lucky enough to of course have worn these shirts already, and this one has got a lot of comments from visitors to Tokyo, who are looking for truly iconic image on a shirt that is not “cheesy”.
Finally, and definitely a case of ‘last but not least’, we have Electric Pagoda. The streaks of colour in this are great. It really captures a lot of different aspects of the city.
LR: So glad to hear that! I definitely wanted it to feel like iconic Tokyo while also not feeling like a superficial touristy kind of image. With Electric Pagoda- that was certainly my attempt to mix the two sides of Tokyo. The beautiful architecture and history, with the cutting edge technology. The neon racing across the bottom is meant to be kinetic and fast-paced, contrasted by the stillness and respectability of the Pagoda in the back. The contrast of calming peace and exciting action. These would be the two qualities I think make Tokyo such a unique place.
MP: Thank you so much Livio for taking us through this epic project! It’s been a pleasure working together, and in case people are concerned this will be the first and last time Maction Planet and Livio Ramondelli collaborate – FEAR NOT! We are already discuss the next project. Any final words you’d like to say your fans Livio?
LR: It’s my pleasure chatting with you! And working on these designs has been a blast. I’ve really wanted to create some imagery that spoke to my love of Tokyo, and it’s been a great experience. And to all the fans – I just want to say thanks for following my work, it means the world to me!
Maction Planet x Livio Ramondelli shirts are priced at ¥3,990 and available at shop.mactionplanet.com.