Interview with Yuji Oshimoto (designer)

By Takayuki Kawamoto

Ed's Note:Yuji Oshimoto is the designer of the world famous "04" fonts, which are quickly becoming a standard in the world of skinz. He has also created games (make sure you play Frogkiller) and other designs, which are available on his website at - The site is available in Japanese and English language.

TEK: Thank you for making time to speak with us, now here we go.
Please tell me about your experience with the computer. How long have you used it?

Yuji: About 6 years now. I started using the computer in my career as a designer.

TEK: And now, you work mainly with computers...

Yuji: Yeah. I'm working on several design things in magazines, websites, and the user interface of games... can't sleep day after day.

TEK: So, do you use a Mac?

Yuji: Yes, most Japanese designers work with Macintosh, and similarly I use Windows boxes only for testing the appearance of the results... or just for playing games :)

TEK: Do you customize your desktop with skinning apps, something like Kaleidoscope?

Yuji: Sure, I love it. And I have made my own scheme for Kaleidoscope.

Yuji: But now, because I often show my desktop to my clients, I don't use anything. I think it will be better to keep the average appearance of a desktop for making webpages for most people. For the most part, I choose not to change much, and to let it be a normal desktop.

TEK: Ah, things are different...

TEK: Speaking of skins, I think the default skin in most apps is made by a designer at each software company. Do you see skinning turning out to be established as a professional type of business?

Yuji: Maybe... but if I was in the position of my client, I would not entrust my business to a person who has spent his time only making skins. The client may think that the designer would make similar skins every time. So if I was a client, I would like to leave my task to a person who has another talent of design... for games, or webpages.

TEK: someone like you, Yuji? :)

Yuji: Wow, I didn't mean..., hehe. Anyway there would be many people who had talents in the making of original interface designs. So it might be more desirable to offer various designs by many persons.

TEK: Well, turning to the main subject in this interview, you put your fonts and flash works on view at your own website. The so-called "04 fonts", for example. We want to know about these fonts... what was your motivation to make these fonts?

Yuji: I'm working on several designs for magazines and websites, and sometimes I make interfaces to be used in softwares or games. The first such job was a software for PlayStation (BEAT PLANET MUSIC by SCEI with Me Company), and it needed many, many characters at once. So I wanted to make my original ones for them.

TEK: I see..

Yuji: Well, I made 5 sets of fonts, but they were just images at that time. Necessarily these were not files available in Macintosh nor Windows, just separated images, and I arranged them on a background or base image one by one... While going through this process, I realized it was difficult to work with, and on the computer, I changed them to usable fonts.

TEK: Did you think these fonts would be used on the web?

Yuji: Yes.

Yuji: When I make web images with these fonts in GIF format, the size of image will compress very well. So after making fonts, they came to be used in my design works on the web.

TEK: Here's a little question. How should we call your fonts? Your family name is "Oshimoto" and usually a number zero is pronounced as "o" and a number four as "shi" just for reminders of... phone number, for example in Japan. Then, should we call "04" as "oshi"?

Yuji: Hahaha... no, I don't care about it. If you are native in English, you can call it as "zero-four", and if you are native Japanese, you can call it as "oshi" or "zero-yon" or something you like. In every case, I want some meaningless name for my fonts and world-wide spelling for them. Numbers will be the best, I think.

TEK: Thanks, I would like to ask you a question about a simple thing :) I want to ask you about fonts for web images. In most cases, people will use little letters, taking an easy way for which they define fonts as 6pt or 7pt letters in each image editors. Just simple. But you have never made your image this way. Why?

Yuji: It's not only a matter of fonts. We designers would make own materials to be used for our works. Designers always want original materials and do not stay in a place with ready-made materials... plus, there were few fonts around several years ago.

TEK: How important are fonts in the world of design?

Yuji: Every appearances will be changed when we change fonts on webpages, magazines, or any others. Fonts will be worth doing as much as the hue, photographs, illustrations, and layouts. I think that designers will be able to know what their talents are from the result, and if we cut corners to easily go to the finish, people will also find out easily.

TEK: Okay, thanks... eh just one more little question, why do you attach a little image as readme in the archive of each font?

Yuji: Oh... not for any special reason. But I tend to throw such readme file into the garbage box, hehe, so I thought people would save such a small and nice image instead of text file... hm, now many people use my fonts overseas and I may make another in English...

TEK: That's fine.

TEK: Well, the next question. How have you been inspired at working, and inspired from what?

Yuji: Watching everything in many times. It has a limit to stay a same place and stage. We should learn more and more, and then get out from closed and limited possibilities in the design thing... or every things in artistic activities though.

TEK: What do you mostly care on at working?

Yuji: Generally speaking any works in design must arrange informations on suitable places. I mean with "informations" as not limited in textual objects. All things in a wider sense of "design" will have to do with making each interface more better. So, we should care on all elements, not limited in anything.

TEK: Great... then, may I ask about your personal details? What's your hobby, music or movies, or?

Yuji: Heeeey, it's difficult for me to count my hobbies :) But the design of something is my one of hobbies as well.

TEK: Is there your favourite designer or works of somebody?

Yuji: I enjoy playing games and they have influenced on my works and ideas very much.

TEK: And, this web magazine has been distributed mainly to foreign people, so would you talk them about you home location in Japan?

Yuji: Ah.... pretty difficult :) Similarly to another cities in Japan, there are many things and infos so it's exciting every day. Oh and, I have sufficiently many games, manga, and anime here!

TEK: Finally, please give your comment or advicement to skinners, if any.

Yuji: Well well..., you have better to use any materials for you own conception and don't use them for a trendy reason... oh what a great speech! Haha... but anyway I am very happy to know that many people use my fonts and are interested in my work.

Thanks all!

TEK: Thank you for giving us a chance to talk with you.

Teknidermy 2001