To Top

Meet Akiko Yamashita of VTProDesign in Glassell Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Akiko Yamashita.

Akiko, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’m a visual artist. I used to be a dancer back in Japan. I was into Hip Hop, House and Jazz dance and created many shows with my crew. I really enjoyed every aspect of show making such as lighting, mixing music, creating costumes, booking a show, making videos, etc. Then I started seeing a lot of projection mapping videos online. My obsession was more than usual, I really wanted to see the spectacle in person but it was not very easy to come across, so I started learning making 2D/3D animations. It was also shortly after I came to Los Angeles from Tokyo. I felt more encouraged making video art. I got a lot of opportunities showing the visuals in Downtown L.A. art scene.

Then I started working for VTProDesign that introduced me to LEDs, robotics, lasers, hologram and many more latest technology. I found it’s very cool that 3D knowledge is useful for many other things. For example, I got to design an animated light hallway called ‘Portal’ in Little Tokyo Los Angeles in 2015. This year I had an opportunity to show a large scale interactive projection called ‘Hana Fubuki’ at Artechouse DC. It has been very rewarding to see something I made brought people together and being creative in their own ways.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I think every stage has been exciting and unique. I’m grateful that I never got bored of doing what I do. To me, that would be the worst struggle if it ever happens. Or at that point, I will do something else. Almost all the project, I have to figure out something I haven’t done before. And that is always a bumpy road but fortunately I’m surrounded by talented professionals who I can ask questions and learn from them. Mentally I had a phase struggled comparing myself to other artists and getting upset that I’m not good enough. Especially since I’m self-taught and was not used to critics like those you would learn at art schools. Recently though I feel more relaxed with myself and want to focus on taking little steps each day.

Please tell us about VTProDesign.
I work as a Technical Director at VTProDesign. We specialize in creating story-driven experiences through design, creative technology and integrated production. VTPro is like a collective of all-star designers, engineers, programmers and builders. I’m very proud to be a part of this young growing company. There is a neon sign says ‘Let’s make cool shit’ at our office, that is really the mentality of the company. The strength of the company is that we are capable of design to execution. Because we have a strong background in production, we can test new technologies at our warehouse. Often our project requires very short turn around, and teamwork makes it possible to do such a challenging timeline. My rolls are solving technical problems in design and content creation. I like the balance in logical thinking and creative thinking. I use many 3D software but one of my favorites is TouchDesigner. It opened up a whole new world for me to render generative visuals in real-time. I’m a huge fan of procedural workflow. Traditional key-framing animation is still important in many cases but I found it beautiful creating a system that can show us unexpected imagery, as if like it has its own soul.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
It is easy to over-complicate things. Every time I made some mistakes, I learned that ‘Less is More’ was right. I also get stuck with advanced methods that I cannot handle yet, I would like to always remind myself to put value in building up my knowledge from basics.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Josue Bieri, Michael Bryan, David S. Hamilton, Mike Patterson

Suggest a story: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in