Tokyo Candies – Urban Attitude Size Plus

Rubens Cantuni aka Tokyo Candies, a 27-year-old art director born in Genoa, Italy, found his passion already in his early days. Instead of roughing it up with the boys or kicking a football around in the fields, you would most probably find Rubens huddled up at home drawing, reading books and comics or listening to music while concocting his next masterpieces.

Tokyo Candies – Urban Attitude Size Plus


Rubens Cantuni may be best known as a vector illustrator but you’ll be surprised to find that this wasn’t what he actually studied for. This amazing illustrator studied the polar opposite of visual arts, computer programming. Despite finishing the degree, Cantuni pursued the fire that lit his heart… art. “After I obtained a degree in programming and industrial design, I started working in an advertising agency as an art director. The Tokyo Candies illustrations are a personal activity.”

Over the years, Cantuni’s personal project has become a significant piece of work that is the product of his particular interests and wild imagination. If you ask Rubens what he likes to do, he comes up with a solid list: “Surfing on the internet. Watching stupid videos online. Use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Taking pictures. Buy t-shirts. Go to the cinema. Buy technology. Eat pizza. Read comics. Listening to music. Collecting strange watches. I also love to watch American TV-series and I’m interested in science too. And of course blogging on KoiKoiKoi.”



Looking at the illustration style that Rubens Cantuni has come up with, it’s easy to guess where he gets his inspiration. “At first, I am influenced by eighties and nineties TV, which grew an Otaku generation loving manga, anime and Japanese video games. Later on, I started to appreciate different things and other cultures. I am charmed by Indian, Chinese and South-East Asian culture – but my great passion is Japan.”


Cantuni finds the Asian, in particular Japanese, culture fascinating because it’s as far away from his own Italian background as it can get. Rubens has been to Japan and even slept in a Buddhist monastery. After his trip to Japan in 2007, he loves the country and culture even more.

The fact that the Asian culture and roots date so far back in such a divergent way intrigues and inspires his vector drawings. Cantuni is also a bit obsessed with tattoos, which is something you can find a lot of in his artwork. Other sources of inspiration are nature, urban life and pop art. Plus of course the work of other illustrators and designers Rubens admires. “The artists I like a lot are Simone Legno (creator of the popular Tokidoki line), Mike Giant (graffiti legend and tattoo mogul) and San Francisco illustrator Jeremy Fish - just to mention three I really love.” Other artists who inspire Rubens are 123 Klan, Tado, Sheena Aw, Koralie, Flying Fortress and Jared Nickerson.


Usually, Cantuni uses Adobe Illustrator for the basic lines and Photoshop for the coloring, and eventually for the texturing. In some of his works, he just uses Illustrator to give his illustrations an even cleaner look.



As any illustrator would, Cantuni created fictional characters that he could spin his work around and this resulted in the naked sumo-wrestling “Rubenesque” women that he is using as his signature icons. Full figured, colorful hair dye and an urban attitude size plus.


Cantuni is very particular about proportion, shape and color. The mixture of color options tend to lean toward bringing a particular shade out. For instance, in the above illustration, it’s purple and pink. Brilliant job, we have to say!



Check out the above illustration and you’ll see the intricate designs of the tattoo on the woman’s body. Being a fan of tattoos, Cantuni has a series of tattoos himself and transfers his fascination onto his vector illustrations.


Asked about his working process, Cantuni tells there isn’t a specific one. “It’s never identical. Sometimes I make a sketch on paper first, but if I have a clear idea or if I am in a hurry, I start the work directly on the computer.”


When he’s not surfing on the internet, taking photographs or watching videos online, Rubens Cantuni loves collaborating with other talented illustrators because it keeps the ideas fresh.

“I create a main character, post it on my website and other artists can work on it. Collaborations are interesting for several reasons. It makes it possible to relate with different styles and methods, and a collab is also very interesting for visibility. The more the artist you collaborate with is famous, the bigger the exposure in the media and on the net.” Cantuni receives a lot of collaboration proposals, but doesn’t have the time to do them all. “I also want to carry on with my individual projects in my poor spare time, so the collabs are waiting.”



Cantuni makes a living, officially, as an art director. This is something that he has been doing ever since he graduated with a design degree. That is his official job. His unofficial jobs include running KoiKoiKoi, www.koikoikoi.com  - a web magazine about visual arts, graphic design and photography he started in 2008 with his friend and colleague Danilo, and of course working on his oh-so-loved-project, Tokyo Candies www.tokyocandies.com.















Related tags: Adobe Illustrator, Anime, Artist, Asian Culture, China, Comics, Girls, Graphic Design, Illustration, India, Japan, Manga, Mike, Otaku, Photoshop, Rubens Cantuni, Simone Legno, Tattoo, Tokidoki, Tokyo Candies, Vector Illustration, Video Games, Visual Arts

Bookmark and Share


1 Nik Platis says...

Posted at 8:06 a.m. on November 15, 2009

2 Miles Oackley says...
Wow, I love these especially the colab with Nickerson

Posted at 5:53 a.m. on November 21, 2009

Comments are closed.

Comments have been close for this post.