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Masao Okazaki

Meet the Illustrator

Last modified: 2020-06-22 by pete loeser
Keywords: graphic artist | illustrator | masao okazaki |
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Image by
Masao Okazaki

Lee Herold and Masao Okazaki
at Herold Flags in Rochester.

Image by
Masao´s Personal Flag Design

Masao Okazaki - Tokyo - Japan

      FOTW Giffer Flag

     I was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1960 and moved to Rochester when my father joined the staff of the Mayo Clinic. I graduated from medical school in Saint Louis, became uncomfortable with treating patients, and now work as a teacher and editor of English writing and communication at a medical school in Tokyo. I've lived with my wife in Tokyo for 25 years, but my ability to speak and understand Japanese is still terrible.
     Flags were a minor interest of mine when I was a kid (in comparison with art, dinosaurs, Star Trek, movies, science fiction, aircraft, and history). But my interest increased when I went to Lee Herold's flag store in my hometown of Rochester, Minnesota, in late 2016 and was told that a contest for the town's flag would soon be held. In addition to designing my own entries in the contest (for which I won $50 for third place in the first round), I researched flags through FOTW, became involved with the Portland Flag Association (PFA), and joined NAVA.
     Because I'm an obsessive-compulsive introvert, I care very much about producing precise imagery of various things. In addition to constantly drawing with pencil and paper, I became a Mac-user by inheriting a $4000 Macintosh SE/30 in 1990 and soon started drawing with Macromedia Freehand, the greatest vector drawing program ever! I used Freehand to draw starship designs and insignia for my own website and was hired by Simon and Schuster to design a starship and a space station for Star Trek novels. Because Freehand was bought and crushed by Adobe and stopped running on Macs, I tried to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator. I found Illustrator too complicated and am now drawing with Affinity Designer. It's not as good as Freehand, but I can do most of what I want.
     My personal flag is one I designed for a failed flag contest for my hometown of Rochester, Minnesota. It shows a Canada goose, an extremely common and disgusting creature Rochester is famous for, and a Rod of Asclepius, the symbol of medicine, which represents Mayo Clinic and my own career in medicine education.

Masao Okazaki, 22 April 2020

Favorite Illustrations:

     In my vexillological research, I've been trying to find every new flag and flag contest in the US and Canada and every flag in Minnesota. In the past 2 years I've drawn more than 250 flags for FOTW and PFA. While I can quickly paste downloaded seals and logos onto bedsheets, I think I'm best at drawing detailed rectangular images from small, misshapen, and unclear photographs of flags. Although none of these flag designs are particularly good, drawing them was both difficult and fun.


Comments on the Flags:

     Regarding the "Favorite flags": I don't think any of the flags are good, but drawing them was difficult but enjoyable because my sources were photographs that were often small, incomplete, or out of proper perspective. For example, to draw the flag of Wayzata, I emailed the city for a clear image but received no reply; I then traced the train station building from photographs of the flying flag and a photograph of the building that showed an appearance similar to that on the flag.
     Another hard part of drawing flags bad flags is finding the typeface. I look through several hundred typefaces and try to find the correct one. Recent flags from small towns often use fonts from Microsoft, which are easy to find, but old flags can use fonts you might find only in an old catalog. Therefore, I do my best at drawing each letter.

Past Projects and Honors:

  • I have few flag related honors! The most I've received is $50 for third place in the judges' section of the first found of the Rochester flag contest.
  • Masao as both an artist and designer has contributed to Star Trek Magazine. His space station and starship designs have graced the covers of several Star Trek: Vanguard novels, and has worked on other Star Trek related projects. He is credited as a technical consultant on the production of the 2008 remastered version of the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Ultimate Computer" and is also responsible for the online Starfleet Museum website. Although not flag related projects, these do speak to his talents as an illustrator.

Contact Information

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