Just hearing the name “HIZUMI” probably takes most of you back to the days when visual kei was blooming in the west, during the time when he was still active as the vocalist of D’espairsRay. Yes, those were the days… We recently got in touch with HIZUMI and were naturally very curious about the life of a former rock star, what he has been doing all these years since the disbandment in 2011 and also his future plans.

Follow our conversation with the vocalist who was once a part of one of the most influential bands in the visual kei history below, and ease that itch which has been lingering for years!

Most of us here know you from the visual kei scene, but please introduce yourself to our readers who might not be familiar with your work.
I’m HIZUMI, vocalist of D’espairsRay. After D’espairsRay disbanded, I started the graphic design brand “UMBRELLA”.

Could you tell us a little about the name UMBRELLA?
In Japan, we have a name for a type of person for whom it always seems to rain whenever they want to do something—”ame-otoko” (雨男). Back when D’espairsRay was active, it often rained on days we had live shows, and I also thought it rained a lot when I wanted to go out somewhere. I became known by the other band members and fans as an “ame-otoko” (rain man). When it came to choosing a name for my brand, I followed that line of thought and naturally arrived at UMBRELLA.

What made you pursue design after your previous experience in a rock band?
I used to design goods for D’espairsRay. I wasn’t satisfied with the stereotypical band merchandise because it’s difficult to use in daily life—you rarely wear T-shirts with a big band logo across, outside of going to gigs, right? So after D’espairsRay was forced to disband [due to the condition of my throat] it was something I was interested in continuing.

So one of your goals for design is to create something that could be used every day. Do you think you have been successful in achieving this goal so far?
Rather than simply “usable every day”, I think my designs come from the idea that “it would be neat if this was a thing”. Because I design according to my own thoughts, I feel satisfied with my creations so far.

What makes your designs and products unique?
It’s difficult to put it into words, but I think there is a sense of balance in the combination of different objects. I’m really interested in interior design.

Some of the goods you’ll find in the UMBRELLA store.

Do you prefer working with traditional tools or digital design?
For the most part, I work in digital. I often use Photoshop and Illustrator.

Could you tell us a little about the design process? For example, what do you do first?
I usually start by taking pictures and then combining them in Photoshop. Actually, the most difficult thing is deciding what to create—once the process has started, it’s really enjoyable so I work quite quickly. It just takes a long time to reach a point where I’m ready to get started.

How do you overcome obstacles like a creative block?
I’m actually very jealous of people who can quickly come up with ideas. When I get stuck on a project, I try many different things until I’m satisfied. If I really can’t see a way to continue, I start over completely from scratch.

If the opportunity arose, would you like to work with other respected graphic artists or designers?
Absolutely. I think it’s very stimulating to be exposed to ideas that are different from your own, so I would definitely seize that kind of creative opportunity.

We’ve noticed that you shared a gallery of photos on your website. Is this another field that you’d like to get into more seriously?
For now, I mostly take pictures for my work, but I would like to get into artistic photography more in the future.

Are you working on anything new at the moment that you can tell us about?
There’s not really anything major recently, but I am becoming more serious about photography.

What are your plans for UMBRELLA in the next year?
Simply, I want to create new designs and share them with the world. That’s all.

Do you plan to expand your online store to the international market?
If people really want that! [laughter]

Finally, do you have a message for our readers and all the fans supporting you overseas?
As an artist, I want to continue to create original art and designs. I will devote myself to creating something that can be touched by the hands of the people reading this. Thank you all for your interest and support.

Big thanks to HIZUMI for taking time off his busy schedule to answer our curious questions! We look forward seeing more creative designs that will fill out UMBRELLA’s future catalog!

More info:
UMBRELLA Official Website
UMBRELLA online store
Twitter (HIZUMI)