One Under 30: Young Creative Spotlight – Noriaki Tanimura

Highlighting young talent in the ad world
— one person at a time.

As part of an ongoing series highlighting young talent in the industry, Branding in Asia brings you “One Under 30: Young Creative Spotlight”, a feature focusing on up-and-coming individuals in the ad world.

This week features Kyoto native Noriaki Tanimura, art director at McCann Health Japan. When asked if he could choose another career, his reply: A jockey. Ride on, Noriaki, ride on.

The Basics

Name: Noriaki Tanimura
Age: 30
Agency: McCann Health Japan
Position: Art Director
Hometown: Kyoto, Japan
Current Location: Tokyo
Education: Kyoto Institute of Design – 2009


Seven Questions

How did you get your first break in the industry?

I showed some artwork that I drew as my hobby at a job interview. Then I was hired right away. The piece was a 15-meter long handscroll (emakimono) of popular characters arranged as Japanese monsters.

The interviewers celebrated my artwork, asking me if they could take a photo of it. Maybe, it became the starting point for me to change people’s behavior with my ideas.

What is your personal mantra?

I engage in art activities while professionally working as an Art Director. I believe that being an artist and working as an Art Director are completely different. It is extremely important to draw a line between advertising and art.


Having said that, the opposite is equally true. I admit that it’s perfectly possible a marriage of those two brings about evolution.

So, my mantra is:

“Advertising makes a coincidence inevitable. In art, a coincidence is born out of the inevitable.”

Whereas art is literally experimenting and research, leading to the creation of things and experiences that no one knows or no one has seen before, advertising is more about expressing a logic, carefully composed to make it look natural and real.

From what person, place, or thing have you drawn your greatest creative inspiration?

For a product, first try to use it.
For a foodstuff, first try to eat it.
For an event, first try to go there.
Actions spark inspiration.

What do you love about the job?

To do something that no one has done before. Because no one has done it before, it is difficult for people to imagine how it would look, and the idea is rejected in many cases.

However, when we crack it with such an idea, it sticks in everyone’s mind. I’d like to continue to pursue ideas and art that have never been done before.

Illustrations by Noriaki Tanimura

What about your job are you not so crazy about?

I am allergic to routine tasks and desk-work. I need to make another AI me as quickly as possible, so I can leave everything to him.

What is some work you’ve done that you’re most proud of?

The world’s first picture book that can be washed by soap for ANGFA, a company focusing on preventive medicine. I did the art direction as well as the illustrations. It was a big piece for me.

In the book, when children wash the character’s dirty hands with the soap, their dream-come-true future is revealed.

As a part of ANGFA’s CSR activities, we delivered soaps to prevent infection together with the “Washable Book” to children in Cambodia in an effort to raise awareness of preventative medicine. We wanted to promote understanding among children that washing hands with soap will help prevent disease, so they can enjoy more opportunities to grow and can change their future.

I’m also proud of the awards I’ve won, including a Grand Prix at the Tambuli Awards, Silver at the Epica Awards, three Golds at the AME Awards. It was fun teaming up with my colleague Mai Kaneda to win Silver at the New Stars competition at Ad Stars last year. We also won two consecutive shortlists at the Young Lions Health Awards.

If you had to choose another career what would it be?

I want to be jockey because I love horse racing! If I were a jockey, I’d shoot for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe instead of Cannes.

Want to submit your suggestion for One Under 30: Young Creative Spotlight? Feel free to drop us a line: [email protected]