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A picture of Shota Kotake

Shota Kotake

Artist, art gallery technician

in artist, windows

Who are you, and what do you do?

Howaya! My name's Shota Kotake. I'm originally from Niigata, Japan, and have been based in Dublin, Ireland for 17 years.

I work as an art gallery technician and freelance art handler during business hours, mainly for the Royal Hibernian Academy gallery, plus several other galleries, museums, retails, festivals, and private homes/collections in Ireland. I'm also a self-employed artist.

Tech work involves anything and everything around an art exhibition and display, from loading in the artworks, unwrapping, preparing the exhibition space, assembling, creating structures and everything the artist needs, hanging, installing, touching up, cleaning, wrapping, crating, and loading out.

As an artist I create artworks for commissions and for myself, including portrait drawing/painting, mural painting, sculpture, illustration, poster design, mixed media, theatre props, banners - pretty much anything I can get my hands on.

What hardware do you use?

As an art tech most gigs can be done with a combination of my own tools and tools that are provided by clients. And if I need tools I don't have, I borrow them from my tech friends and that get the job done for most cases.

Electric drill - HiKOKI DV18DBXL.

This is my main man. With an additional handle it'll drill through concrete no problem, so I don't have to get an SDS drill for most gigs. The battery lasts long enough and charges in about 30 mins. Though it's a bit on the heavy side and very loud, that does give it some stability and is a bit of work out for my arms, and I take the noise as its character. It's grand with Sabre cut shafts and bits.

Impact driver - HiKOKI WH18DBDL2.

A great impacter for drilling in wood. It can change its strength between 4 different levels, and I've only ever needed the first 3 so far - level 4 is almost too powerful. Looking forward to encountering a level 4 gig.

Multi-Tool - Leatherman Super Tool 300.

This almost gets the job done by itself. It's a bit on the heavy side, but I like the weight and strength of it - you can almost use it as hammer.

Boombox - Roland MOBILE CUBE.

When I'm in an environment where I can play music while working I bring this man with me. Music helps me concentrate and work efficiently, especially when I'm listening to Jungle/Drum and Bass. This has ia power cable and is also battery powered, with 6 AAs lasting for 4-6 hours. Amazing to have for indoor and outdoor use, with or without electricity.

Measuring tapes - Stanley Tylon 3m & Expert Hardware 5m.

Classic push-in locking system which I like. Pretty much gets most of the measuring jobs done.

Levels - SurfaceMaster 600, Stabila 1889 set, a couple of 200mm handy levels.

SurfaceMaster 600 is the main man among the other levels. Its handle is so easy to grip, and the rubber corners are great for avoiding damage to artwork.

Laser level - DeWalt DW088CG.

A great little laser level for all environments when I need extra precision. The green light matches with Ireland, too.

Safety boots - Amblers FS40C.

Low cut runners with composite tip toes. Comfortable enough to walk around both in art galleries and construction sites.

Gloves - Skytec Ninja Lite.

These are so comfortable to wear for both handling art and other works, as you won't get sweaty hands like with rubber gloves and they're more protective and have better grips than archival gloves.

Respirators - Delta Plus M6400 Jupiter & Shigematsu DR28L2W.

Delta Plus for wood work, Shigematsu for welding and painting. Both are great, especially as the Shigematsu filters are washable.

As an artist I am very much analog. I've tried to learn working in digital with a pen tablet years ago but it's never suited me, so the tools are analog as well.

Cameras - For taking reference photography or snaps/portraits, I use analog conventional cameras (35mm/120mm). I don't think digital cameras can ever beat analog for taste and the physicality of film.

Konica C35 EF/EFD - I used the EFD for a decade, and after it was stolen I got the EF instead. Zone focus is very useful for quick focusing. Sometimes it gets blurry when the distance to the subject is in between each zone, but I take every accident as a unique feature, so it's all grand.

Nikon N65 - my second 35mm and first SLR for when more precision is needed. I've had it for over a decade and it still takes great photos.

Yashica Mat-124 G - My first 120mm medium format camera. It's brilliant for taking portraits.

Lomo Lubitel 166 (USSR Olympic limited edition) - My second 120mm, I got it in Kyiv, Ukraine. It doesn't take as sharp a photo as the Yashica but gives photos a unique texture.

Canon EOS Kiss x2/450D - My only digital SLR. Over 20 years old but no problems shooting anything. Got it with a double zoom lens too. Since the auto focus mechanism broke (and I couldn't be bothered fixing it), I use manual all the time.

Art gear:

Zebra Tapli Clip sharp pencil - Have been using this for sketching/draft drawing for my entire life (since I was 10 or so). It's nothing special, just one of those mass produced sharp pencil, but I've been using it for so long it has become perfect for my hands.

Tombow MONO rubber eraser - Japanese erasers are a must have for illustrators. There's no better eraser than a Japanese eraser.

Pentel brush pen - For inking, coloring black, and when brush strokes are needed this has been my main man. I also use the thinned ink version too. I use two brush sizes.

Kuretake brush pen - This one's got a replaceable cartridge so that I can make my own ink and load it. I use it for washing and light shadow.

Copic Multiliner - For pen drawing it's my main man. Comes with a range of thickness - 0.03mm, 0.05, 0.1, 0.3, 0.5, 0.8, 1.0, and thicker. No smudging at all.

Copic Ciao - For color illustrations/portraits. I have Box set A and B and additional colors. Dries quick and blends well, and the color is brilliant too.

Winsor & Newton color ink - For ink coloring this is the best.

Daler Rowney acrylic paints - I don't have any particular taste in paint. It's available everywhere in Ireland, so.

Turner Acrylic Gouache - When I need matt and strong colors I use this. You'd need retarder as it dries so quickly, but the color is brilliant.

Tachikawa T-40 - My main dip pen with a G pen tip and circular tip. Ink is Winsor & Newton.

Winsor & Newton Series 7 - For detailed lines this is the best. For other thicker brushes I just use whatever I have.

SMLT papers - Sketching, pen drawings, watercolors, acrylics, black paper, brown paper, sketchbooks - this covers everything I need.

Tech:

HP Elitebook 8440w - My main work laptop with Win 7 (still). As I don't do digital art at all there's no problems with it. Very durable and fast enough for doing most work like image editing, documents, invoicing, web browsing.

Epson Perfection V33 - My main scanner, as old as my laptop. It also scans negatives so it's handy for photography work too.

And what software?

GIMP - For editing photos or scans. It's free and works fine, gets the job done.

OpenOffice - Just couldn't be arsed getting MS Office, but I only make documents, tables, slides, and invoices so this is fine.

Calculator on the phone - When hanging flat pieces on the wall this comes in handy for checking the numbers.

What would be your dream setup?

My current studio is in a residential house I share with other artists. It's cosy like home but lacks space for a wood/metal workshop, I can't really splash paints around or make things dusty, so my dream setup would be more space for workshops, well insulated for winter, and sound proof for having loud music.

It'd be great to have a remote studio/holiday home somewhere exotic so that I can make a holiday/artist residency-type of trip.

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