Monday, 30 September 2013

Interview on Beauty Hacker

In July I was interviewed by Yuka Kubo, a professor of Tokyo University of Technology, who is researching beauty related technology and innovation and runs the website Beauty Hacker (Japanese). She wanted to interview me for the website She’s also very friendly, and of course we took purikura together! Read on for a summary of the interview!

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The link to my interview is here. It’s in Japanese but there are a few pictures, I’ll sum up what we talked about below.

It was really nice to talk to someone in great detail about purikura, I can get a little obsessed with it I know so to meet someone who can go into way more depth than I can was so much fun! She showed me some pictures she took at an anime convention in France that had purikura and part of her presentation that had the history of the technology used for purikura.

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Anyway, the article starts by introducing me and the blog and talks about the concepts of transformation and “kawaii” culture is important for purikura.

First of all, she talks about how she was surprised that a foreigner would like/need purikura. We already have big eyes and small faces apparently so what could we see in the machine? I said that while I don’t need eye enlargement of course it’s nice to get perfect smooth skin and to get rid of those dark under-eye circles I think I was born with!

She then talks about all the different make-up products and techniques that are targeted to Japanese women to ‘Westernify’ their faces, such as eye tape and nose shading powder. So I talked a little about how Western women still feel the need to wear make-up. I told her about eyelash tinting in the UK and how I use mascara because I feel my blonde eyelashes look weird, and that I do envy people with naturally dark lashes.

Then I went on to say that that isn’t the only reason I like purikura and that I think one of the good things about purikura is that everyone knows that it’s processed. Magazines try to hide their Photoshop but with purikura it’s a very open part of the process.

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Then we talked about the backgrounds and designs of the stamps, I showed her two sets of purikura taken in kimono with my friend, one set had brighter backgrounds and the other was more muted, the more muted colours suited the kimonos and the pictures looked better overall. (There are pictures on page 3 of the interview).

I talked about how the purikura is a design tool, that by choosing your stamps and backgrounds you are making so much more than just a photo booth picture. I also told her that the most difficult part for me is choosing pens!

She then explains about the different designs and stamps and the set-up of the booths to increasing turnover by adding the outside screens etc.

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Then we talked about foreigners abroad and whether they would know purikura. I think that people with a particular interest in Japan would but that the average person on the street wouldn’t. I then told her how I knew nothing at all about Japan before I came here, and that I was backpacking and wanted to settle in a country for a year. My Japanese friend told me about working in Japan and many years later I’m still here! I also talked about someone I knew that had been dying to come live in Japan and who went home after a year because it didn’t live up to her expectations. Life’s funny like that!

Then we talked about cute culture, and that being ‘kawaii’ isn’t so popular in the UK. I said I thought that the newer range of adult/blogger/hipster type machines would probably be more popular than the older machines that would seem to many like children’s toys.

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Then I talked about writing the blog to help people living in Japan and abroad to see purikura and what it can do, hopefully broadening interest a little! I said that I intend to start reviewing purikura apps on the blog (working on it!) from the point of view of comparing to the purikura experience.

We then talked a little in general about my background. That I’ve always like designing and creating things, my degree was in Film & TV and I specialised in camerawork. That I like choosing the purikura stamps and backgrounds that co-ordinate with the clothes and style I have that day.

She pointed out some solo purikura I took before my last dance performance, where I have red accents and lipstick and so I used red accents on the purikura. (Pictures on page 5) She also put up a picture of some anti-Valentines nail art I did, I met her after I had been to my nail art class so we were talking about that as well.

I talked about how when you take purikura alone you can decide exactly the style you want, but that it’s more fun to take with your friends. I told her the story of the time my friend and I were approached in a game centre by two college students who wanted to take pictures with us.

She finished up with a quote that makes me sounds really deep!

I said that even though the world is a dark place you can find small pieces of beauty in it. I want to be someone who can create beautiful things, nail art and purikura is a part of that. I came to Japan almost ten years ago so my aesthetic is a mix of British culture and Japanese culture and that if I ever go back to England I’m going to use what I have learned to keep creating!

That was roughly the gist of the interview, I know it’s a bit of a vague translation but hopefully it was ok to read! If you guys have any questions for me just comment, tweet @purigal (not so active there but I’ll try!) or email me!

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