Innovation unwrapped: Daichi Ito

We chatted with Daichi about how he uses the world as a canvas to bring creative ideas to life.

By Adobe Life Team

Posted on: 08-12-2020

Daichi Ito is always drawing and taking creative expression to the next level, thanks to new technologies. As a technical research artist, he focuses on new media-related technologies, from drawing and painting to 3D modeling and animation. We spoke with Daichi to learn more about traditional and digital artistry, filling the gap between artists and technologists, and why he’s been busy drawing caricatures.

How did you get started as an artist and what first sparked your creativity?

I’ve loved drawing since I was a young boy. I used to draw railroad tracks all day long when I was four years old. Once I got a sketchbook, I would always draw a train on the first page. Then, from the second to last page, I drew various shapes of railroad tracks that the train would run on in my imagination.

I pursued my love of art through higher education as an Art major at San Jose State University, where I was part of its animation and illustration program. We had opportunities to meet professional concept artists who painted imaginary, but realistic worlds for films and games. That inspired me to start painting imaginary worlds of my own — which, ironically, I’ve been sketching since childhood.

What do you think about the relationship between artistry and technology?

From my experience, technology can boost artists’ abilities, not compete with them. Even with the emergence of AI and machine learning, artists are still focused on creating content from scratch and executing on creative ideas. Technology can help artists with more mundane or tedious creative tasks — like selecting a subject in a photo.

Artists need to learn how to use technology rather than being used by it. On the other hand, I’ve realized that researchers and engineers who develop technology are not always familiar with artists’ needs, so I try to act as a “translator” between artists and researchers. I work with some of Adobe’s researchers and engineers to provide feedback on how to improve the creative/artistic experience.

You’re often seen in the Adobe San Jose café during lunch drawing portraits of employees. Can you discuss your digital caricature work?

I started doing it for fun and people liked getting free caricatures. Later, I learned about some caricature-related projects in Adobe Research using machine learning where I could contribute my caricature drawings to the training dataset. I’ve enjoyed meeting other Adobe employees through caricature drawings and helping improve potential future technology innovations through my work. Now that we’re currently working from home, I’ve shifted to drawing employee caricatures virtually via video conferencing during the lunch hour.

How does your creativity fuel your work within Adobe Research? What project are you most proud of to date?

I have a long “wish list” on my phone. Every time I think, “I wish I had this kind of tool…” I write it down, even if it sounds impossible. Who knows what possibilities future technologies could bring? Each time I start a new project, look at my list and pick one.

“Trace a photo and make a clean line drawing” was one item on my list. From there, some other Adobe researchers and I hired interns to start “Project Fine Line,” which became a prototype (or “Sneak”) that I presented at Adobe MAX Japan last year – which could potentially end up as a feature in one of our creative tools in the future.

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Creative, unique, observational.

What advice can you offer to those who want to be more creative in their daily lives?

If you have a desire to do something new — like painting, cooking, drawing, or photography — then do it. That makes you creative. As long as you have passion and drive, you can accomplish great things.

Working with others in the creative community is a great way to spur new ideas and gain valuable insights. There are lots of talented artists out there with great concepts that can inspire you.

For me, when creative inspiration arises, I make a note of it or draw a picture. Inspiration can hit at unexpected times — maybe while driving, dreaming, or taking a shower.

Also, since your brain gets tired, I recommend eating well and getting lots of sleep!

Topics: Career Advice, Employee Impact, Adobe Culture, Adobe Life,