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Interview|Takumi Suzuki

As part of the Hariban Award 2022 programme, we interviewed Takumi Suzuki, CEO of Benrido, Inc. In the interview, Suzuki shares insight  on the early beginnings of Benrido’s work with  photography and contemporary art using the collotype process and his thoughts on the Hariban Award.


Tell us about your first contact with art and photography in particular.  Are there any photographs you have seen that have left a particularly strong impression on you?

TS: I am not certain of the first photographic work I came into contact with, but the one that left a deep impression on me was Eikoh Hosoe’s Ba Ra Kei,  which I became interested in when I was in my late teens. Then, almost 20 years later, when we began to use the Collotype process for contemporary art works and photographic works, I was fortunate enough to see a test print of Eikoh Hosoe’s Ba Ra Kei, which convinced me of the potential of the use Collotype, not only for reproduction of cultural assets but as a technique of creating photographic works. That’s how I came to be convinced of the potential of the collotype technique used by the studio.

As the CEO of Benrido, you have the opportunity to see a variety of photographs, what do you consider photography to be?

TS: I believe that works of art are created in relation to time, space and the self placed in that reality, and among these, photography is an extremely unique technique that allows the photographer to capture the one and only time and space in front of them by clicking the shutter. What is even more interesting is that not only what is visible is photographed, but even what is invisible is captured which allows room for a multi-layered depth in terms of visual reading, meaning and context of the work. I believe that the textural element of photographs opens up even more possibilities for expression with the collotype process.
Benrido, Inc. CEO Takumi Suzuki inside the Collotype Studio at Benrido Kyoto Head Office © Benrido, Inc. 

Today, many photographs can be viewed on digital media, but what do you think is the significance of printing photographs using analogue  photographic printing techniques such as  collotype?

TS: The virtual world will continue to develop unabated. Digital images, including photographs, have become the gateway to this vast world. The world of digital images, including photographs, has become the door to a world where things that mankind has not yet seen are sure to be created one after the other. It is very interesting. At the same time, however, prints that have materialised as objects will never disappear. On the contrary, the more the digital world advances, the stronger the tendency to feel the appeal and meaning of objects, especially those made by human hands, will become. I believe that one of these crafts is collotype. The making of works using the collotype technique, which has become very rare, is something that can only be experienced at Benrido at a high level. In other words, the possibility of creating works of art that even you don’t know yet by encountering collotype attracts interest.

This is the ninth edition of the Hariban Award, why was the initial impetus for creating  the competition in 2014 and what were your thoughts at the time?

TS: About 10 years before we started this award, we began  to work with creating  contemporary art and photographic works in collotype. We wanted more people to know about and experience the collotype process, so we organised a collotype photography exhibition in New York with the help of prominent photographers and published a portfolio. It would have been nice if we could have continued these activities for a long time, but as it is very expensive to go out into the world and produce publications, we were unable to gain an understanding within the company in terms of cost-effectiveness, so things stagnated for a while after that. However, during that time, my desire to make people around the world aware of the appeal of the collotype did not disappear. It was when I took over as CEO that I put more effort into  promoting the collotype technique and studio’s work  to the rest of the world. Part of this effort was the Hariban Award.The concept is to invite people to come to our studio  in Kyoto, rather than sending our works out  from here. I thought that the context  of making things in Kyoto with artisans would  surely be of interest to others both within and outside of Japan. Thanks to this, many people have applied every year, and we are now in our ninth year.

From left: Takumi Suzuki in the collotype studio with printing assistant Ji-won Lee and Master Printer Osamu Yamamoto © Benrido, Inc. 

The Hariban Award is open to everyone who has produced  black and white photographic works, whether professional or amateur. Can you tell us what this means?

TS: We wanted to make sure that everyone interested in collotype could participate. Of course, it is not easy to be selected for the Grand Prize, as there is a rigorous jury of renowned judges, but we want to encourage as many people as possible to enter by giving everyone an equal opportunity to participate, regardless of whether they are professional or amateur, well-known or unknown. We would be more than happy if this award could contribute to their career and experience.

What do you think is the best part of winning the Hariban Award?

TS: Above all, it would be  the residency experience  of working with the master printers and experienced staff of the studio  to create a work of art that has never been seen before, in Kyoto, a place where you can feel the traditions of Japan. The pandemic  has stalled this process for the past two years, but this year  we would like to make an effort to return to our pre-pandemic programming.

Do you have any advice for people thinking of applying for this year’s Hariban Award?

TS: If you are unsure about taking part, we would still encourage those interested to apply to try to see what may come out of that initial experience. Apart from the Grand Prize, there are also chances to win the Juror’s Choice Award , Honourable Mentions and the Benrido Award . The works of these winners will be included in the official catalogue which is also printed and hand bound by the studio and copies will also be gifted  to the finalists. We look forward to seeing your wonderful works.

HARIBAN AWARD 2022 便利堂代表 鈴木巧インタビュー

HARIBAN AWARD 2022プログラムの一環として、アワードを主催する株式会社便利堂代表 鈴木巧にインタビューをおこないました。便利堂がコロタイプを通じて現代アートや写真作品に取り組み始めた頃の話しや、HARIBAN AWARDへの想いについて話をききました。


Benrido, Inc. CEO Takumi Suzuki inside the Collotype Studio at Benrido Kyoto Head Office © Benrido, Inc. 







Benrido, Inc. CEO Takumi Suzuki at the Benrido Kyoto Head Office standing next to one of the original printing presses used at Benrido Collotype Atelier.  © Benrido, Inc. 

今回で9回目を迎えるHARIBAN AWARDですが、2014年にこのコンペディションを立ち上げた理由と、当時の想いを教えてください。



HARIBAN AWARDはプロ・アマチュアを問わず、写真作品を制作する全ての人に開かれています。この意味について、お聞かせいただけますか?


Benrido, Inc. CEO Takumi Suzuki inside the Collotype Studio at Benrido Kyoto Head Office © Benrido, Inc. 

HARIBAN AWARDの最優秀賞受賞者には、賞としていくつかの権利が与えられますが、一番の魅力は何でしょうか?


今年のHARIBAN AWARDに応募しようと考えている方々へ、何かアドバイスはありますか?



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