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Scenic Stamping with Kevin Nakagawa of Stampscapes Kevin gives detailed answers regarding scenic stamping, techniques and color application.

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Old 05-03-2009, 05:52 PM
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XrayAmy XrayAmy is offline
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Thumbs up Interview with Kevin Nakagawa

What was your artistic background before you discovered rubber stamping?

I discovered rubber stamping when I answered a want ad for a production assistant at A Stamp in the Hand Co. (ASITH) I was going to school at the time --CA State Univ. Long Beach-- and was studying art. Before that I had done a lot of art and design work while in high school which probably prepared me, as much as anything, for what I do now. We happened to have a great art and design program in high school and I took things like art, graphic arts, photography, and I was a section editor on our yearbook for a couple years. I learned a lot of traditional materials and techniques of art and production in those years including things like typesetting with traditional metal type cases and printing presses, silk screening, all the black and white art media, and photographic processes like development, darkroom techniques, and using horizontal format cameras.

What got you started in rubber stamping and do you remember your first stamp?

In my adult life, it was answering that ad. by ASITH. I did general production and office work there (1987-1991) most of the time but, over a few years, had built up a few lines of designs of my own there. One of them happened to be a series of modular nature designs. We had other demonstration and sample artists at ASITH but this was the line that they wanted me to handle on my own. This was first actual stamping that I did there. ASITH used to use a style of mount that used pieces of paper to be hand indexed (stamped) that was positioned under a plastic top. This used to take forever to do and, also, the dye based inks would fade quickly when our stamps were on store shelves. Color laser copies were just coming out and I wanted to take advantage of that so I spent a year making and stamping up master boards that we could copy and cut out these index tops for the stamps. It saved us a lot of time from hand coloring all these tops on an ongoing basis. But, if you want to go WAY back, I have a set of stamps from childhood that were probably from All Night Media or something like that. It's a space themed set that came with a little black stamp pad and was from the early to mid 70's I would guess. The rubber on these are mounted straight on yellow wooden handles with no cushion. I still have this set.

Tell us about how you started Stampscapes.

I graduated from Long Beach in 1991 and worked as a freelance illustrator for a year. I was still doing occasional work for ASITH and teaching scenic stamping using my designs. I really enjoyed it and was curious to see where I could take that modular idea so I decided to give it a shot and started working on designs for my eventual company. It took a year to draw the first line and in 1993 I started Stampscapes. I wanted to try to employ my own management and philosophical concepts as well as theories on designs so I had to do this independently.

Tell us about some of your special techniques you developed like your Tonal Applicator.

I used that Tonal Applicator exclusively for many years to color my scenes. I had a line of designs in the ASITH lineup called "Field of ...." such as Field of Sky, Field of Snow, Field of Lightning. What these were, were reverse images. All of the designs that represented things like lightning at the time seemed to be positive designs like a bolt. My concept of lightning in a scene was that the lightning should be lighter than the surrounding area/sky so that would involve having a field of dots with a "bolt" defined by those dots around it --if that makes sense. But, the design problem of that is that where the stamp design ended, one would have this field of dots ending abruptly. So, the idea of an additional stamp that was just made up of dots came into being. It was something that could fill up the rest of the sky with tone. The actual usage of the Tonal Applicator ended up being different from the concept in that we ended up using multiple layers of colors which worked better than just one.

What is your favorite "go to" stamp?

I have a few stamps that fit into this category but "Lakeside Cove Lg." and another called "Cloud Cumulus" are favorites and a couple designs that I see as good foundations to build upon.

Tell us one thing that people would be surprised to know about yourself.

One thing that comes to mind is that people tend to think of my usage of color when thinking about the techniques that they see used on the scenes but I'm more of a black and white person by nature. I loved doing black and white photography, I've primarily been a pen and ink artist, etc. I've since come to love looking at landscape paintings by the great masters but it took a while. When I teach color usage, with this in mind, I probably teach it in a way that I can relate to and that's very simply. Color usage doesn't come easy to me so I approach things from a black and white standpoint in that "Value" (relative light and dark) is emphasized and I use a lot of texture in the scenes. It tends to break things down into a way that I can relate to. From there, I might dabble in other aspects of color such as temperature, hue, and intensity but it's mainly about value as that's all black and white work deals with. So when people say something like they're not good at color, I know what they mean. I'm not either. I'm decent at Value though.

Anything new going on with Stampscapes you'd like to tell us about?

One of the most exciting things, for me, is the new "Scenic Sentiments" line of word stamps. We have quotes, sentiments, words, etc. on 7 sheets that really seem to put a nice finishing touch on the scenes. I use them to either add emphasis to a pre-stamped scene or I'll stamp a scene inspired by the word stamp itself. It's been a fun way to work.

You can view everything Stampscapes has to offer including lots of fabulous galleries filled with gorgeous artwork by going to the link below:
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Scenic * Artistic * Collage
Old 05-03-2009, 05:53 PM
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XrayAmy XrayAmy is offline
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A big "Thank You" to Kevin for taking the time to give such a wonderful interview!
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Scenic * Artistic * Collage
Old 05-03-2009, 09:46 PM
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Lady Kestrel Lady Kestrel is offline
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Location: NJ
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Thank you, Kevin and Amy! I enjoyed reading this and viewing those terrific designs. I've got some new ideas percolating already.
We lose ourselves in books and art and find ourselves there, too.
Old 05-04-2009, 02:32 AM
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Stampo Stampo is offline
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Hi Kevin,
Glad to see you here... I remember when you were starting your own company and I had a booth at Carson and you were banging your head against the wall saying "What am I doing? What am I doing?"... going out on your own can be scary. How are those pictures of my store and the YouTube Video coming? LOL
For a good time, visit
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Old 05-04-2009, 03:10 AM
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Jeanette Jeanette is offline
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Location: Murrells Inlet, SC
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Lakeside Cove is a stamp that I use over and over. But, I see by the samples I can use it
in many more ways than I have in the past. Even though I can't color all that well, I always love the results I get with this stamp.

My blog:
H20 Creations
Old 05-04-2009, 08:03 AM
Posts: n/a

Hey Kevin, I missed getting to the Akron show to see you this year. I'm looking forward to having a little more time for stamping soon. I did an inchie card with Stampscape recently in sepia. It made a great Father's Day card. I was amazed at how well the stamps worked for inchies.
Kathi Bobb
Old 05-04-2009, 06:17 PM
Posts: n/a
Default Hi Kevin

A big hello, what a wonderful article about your beginning, that is
fantastic!! Missed you at the Grapevine, Tx. show this year, cannot wait
til Jan next year.. My sister has taken off with her stamping after her lessons with you! I was so happy to see you were going to be on today!
the sentiment stamps are wonderful Kevin,
take good care, thank you for sharing!!
Jackie Cole in Texas
Old 05-04-2009, 07:16 PM
Posts: n/a
Default New images

Hi Kevin,

This is really a great way to "talk" to you.
Other than the new sayings that were just released, do you have any plans for new scenic stamps soon?

Sandy Whalen
Old 05-04-2009, 10:34 PM
Posts: n/a

Kevin, it was good to read another interview with you. You are so inspiring. I love your new sentiments. I haven't had a chance to order any yet, but I will. Love your work! Sandy K in Missouri
Old 05-04-2009, 10:46 PM
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fab fab is offline
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Location: Sunny Southern Calif.
Posts: 23,783

I was at your early Carson shows. I have moved now and wish you would come back to the Riverside Show. It is now the only one I can get to. I have a shoebox of your scenics and love to work with them.


bio, interview, kevin nakagawa, scenic stamping, stampscapes
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