tatsuya tanaka crafts intricate miniature calendar of everyday scenes
since 2011, tatsuya tanaka has been engaged in his ‘miniature calendar‘ — a project which has seen the art director create a pocket-sized scene of everyday life, on a daily basis. what initially started as a means of photographing his collection of diorama dolls amongst familiar settings constructed to scale, has now unfolded into a long-term venture… one that he’s not likely to stop anytime soon. we spoke with the japanese creative about what fuels his ideas for 365 days of the calendar year, and of the more than 1000 scenes he’s made, which ones he’s particularly fond of and have a personal meaning for him.
designboom: why did you begin making this miniature calendar?
tatsuya tanaka: the idea came from a comment on instagram, in which a follower wrote, ‘I want to see the miniature calendar everyday‘. so, while I answered by posting something daily, the thought of the project was too good for me to quit. I find a lot of joy in continuing to make the miniature calendar, I haven’t thought about stopping anymore. in the early days, I created these scenes for the purposes of photographing my collection of diorama dolls, but after a while I found it interesting to express ‘likening one thing to another'; and now I have found my style at present.
DB: are there particular themes or concepts that you are looking to express through this project?
TT: the theme is ‘the interest of likening one thing to another’. in doing so, you can see how everyday things can become more fun when imagined in a different way. it is important that the ‘miniature calendar’ is understandable in its intention for everyone – young and old, of any nationality. so, I try to use familiar things and address familiar matters.
‘hide and seek’
DB: how do you go about generating ideas 365 days of the year for the calendar? including titles for each piece?
TT: I often conceive ideas while working and carrying on with everyday life, so even though they are trivial matters when I conceive them, I am sure to make a note. I use the iPhone application ‘omnifocus’ which lets me quickly store my concepts. I sort these under categories like ‘practicable now’, ’necessary materials to put an idea into a practice’, ‘hints for ideas’ etc… and I decide what I will create next and what materials I will use by checking these memos.
DB: what is the most challenging aspect of creating your calendar dioramas?
TT: posting works every single day, in itself is my challenge. I have been doing this since april 20th, 2011 so the project is now in its fifth year. those who have seen my works all the way through to this point have a good eye, so creating ideas that exceed their expectations is also a challenge. after certain ideas are exhausted, I think there will always be more interesting ones.
DB: could you speak a little bit about the material choices you make when crafting each diorama?
TT: I make a conscious effort to chose universal materials whose scale can be understood. for example, we can see the scale of vegetables or stationary; as opposed to unique toys or electric appliances whose dimensions are more difficult to understand. without understanding the scope of the motif, the interest and intention of the idea decreases – so I pay attention to these matters. in collecting my materials, I make a conscious effort to keep things even though they might seem useless, such as clips for closing bread packaging, clothes tags, toilet paper rolls, ice lolly sticks and so on… because I don’t always know right away how they will be useful.
DB: do you have a particular one that is a favorite, or that stands out for you?
TT: I have a special attachment to the broccoli work ‘picnic’ which is on the cover of my photo book; and ‘way home’ which I have likened tatami mats to rice fields. when I was a child would compare broccoli to trees and in these scenes I would play with my superhero doll who would be fighting a monster in this forest. I also imagined the edge of a tatami mat as a footpath between rice fields, and would play with miniature cars in this way. I think this childhood imagination and experience can be strongly linked to the miniature calendars. broccoli and tatami were my initial symbols of likening.
DB: what are your future plans for the miniature calendar?
TT: I would like to make an original miniature diorama doll by myself. I already change the color of ready-made dolls and rearrange them, but I have never made a figurine from scratch. by being able to make the dolls as I want them to be will allow my ideas to expand. at the end of the year I will have an exhibition in kagoshima, and then osaka in the new year. I would like to increase the opportunity to talk with people about my work. I will update the public with more specific information on the miniature calendar website and through my SNS page, so please check them.
‘take a shower’