Did you ever imagine that Hello Kitty would be big worldwide?
No, not at all. When I started I didn't even know whether she would sell
in Japan. I was told that Hello Kitty was only for children and that
Westerners wouldn't carry her around.
Why doesn't Hello Kitty have a mouth?
It's so that people who look at her can project their own feelings onto
her face, because she has an expressionless face. Kitty looks happy when
people are happy. She looks sad when they are sad. For this
psychological reason, we thought she shouldn't be tied to any emotion —
and that's why she doesn't have a mouth.
Why is Hello Kitty from London and not somewhere in Japan?
When Hello Kitty was created, many girls in Japan had read Alice in Wonderland
and adored Britain. Also, there were other characters [created by my
company Sanrio] who were supposed to have been born and raised in the
U.S., so Kitty was born in London as a way of differentiating her.
How do you continue to be fresh without losing the essence of Hello Kitty?
Trends are the key — what colors and what motifs are in. If roses are in
fashion, then I think of rose designs. I have to be able to predict
more or less what is coming.
Why do so many adults love Hello Kitty?
People around the world often say that when they were children they
couldn't afford Hello Kitty, so they started to buy her when they earned
money as adults. It's not that they all of a sudden discovered Kitty.
Do you consider a global audience when you're designing?
In the past, I was designing only for Japanese fans. But lately I've
been designing for Kitty fans in general. I don't think so much about
where they come from as how delighted they'll be if I do such and such a
What's your favorite of all the designs you've done?
The [1994-1996] Face series, which generated a real Kitty boom. Until
then, Kitty was designed for children and I carried around Hello Kitty
merchandise only as samples, because I was the designer. But I actually
bought up to 20 pieces from the Face range — five for myself and the
rest for my friends — because I knew that from then on nobody would be
telling me that Hello Kitty was just for kids.
Is there an item that we will never see Hello Kitty on?
Knives. The knife-killing rampage in Tokyo in June made me feel even more certain that we are right about not producing knives.
What will Hello Kitty be doing in 10 years?
In 10 years' time, everybody around the world will know her. Also, the
number of male and female fans will be the same. Men who are still
reluctant to be seen with Kitty in public today might be wearing Hello
Kitty boxers. But they will eventually stop being shy and will show off
What advice would you give to young artists?
Be interested in different things and see and listen to everything. A
person who does not have multiple interests is only drawing, not
designing. They become somebody who just draws and gets stuck. To
design, you need to be open to all kinds of information and ideas.
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1834451,00.html#ixzz1jlWReNGv