I'm so excited to post this wonderful interview with Chico Hayasaki and I can't thank CWC-i/ CWC Tokyo enough for making this interview possible as well as translating on both ends--many many thanks! And before I forget, the opening of the Hanahou Gallery in New York is coming up at the end of the month. CWC artists are creating special work just for this show and Chico will be making handmade soap!
Chico's work is so lovely, I don't want to categorize it with too many words, so I will try and let her images do it for me. In additon to showing at many exhibitions in and around Tokyo, Chico has illustrated major ad campaigns for Le Sportsac, Nordstrom, the La Perla showroom in Milan, the TBC-Obagi campaign, as well as window displays, brochures, posters, and book covers.
Born in Tokyo, Chico went on to study art at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon before working at advertising agencies in the U.S. and Japan. I couldn't help but notice on Chico's website, that she was one of ten illustrators chosen by Jeffrey Fulvimari for the competition: "This is Your Chance--Jeffrey Will Find You" hosted by CWC in Tokyo in 1999. So now, I not only love his work, but his taste in other illustrators!
mj: How would you describe your own style?
chico: For me, I like everything to be simple--from fashion to furniture to cosmetics. I like a style that combines a little bit of a masculine feeling with feminine taste. Fashionwise, for example, I like to wear a feminine camisole with jeans. As another example, in my room, I have a simple sofa, a steel cabinet, and pink cushions. My style is also to use organic skin care products, such as PATYKA. I also want the work that I create to be sophisticated and self-assured. But beauty alone is boring, so within the polished and simple forms, I want to insert a spirit of playfulness.
When I work on line drawings, I put all my concentration into my right hand, but when I work in watercolor, I try to relax and concentrate on the flow of ink. This balance of tension and relaxedness is a very good feeling, and I think it is reflected well in my art.
mj: Besides illustration, do you do other work, such as painting, etc.?
chico: Before I arrived at the lines and watercolors that I currently do my work in, I tried out various kinds of paper and media. I still continue to search out new media that fit well with me, and that is a fun thing to do. I always find interesting things when I visit art stores.
mj: I noticed on your website that the opening showed your work with jewelery. I wasn't sure it those were your designs as well?
I am happy that you noticed my jewelry work. I studied jewelry design in Santa Monica one summer when I was in college. While I've been pursuing the path of illustration, doing jewelry design has long been a dream of mine too. The jewelry on my website was for my solo show last year.
I used chandelier and chair motifs from my illustrations for my design, and my friend made the pieces. Making jewelry is a new project for me as an artist. The collaboration with my friend is slowly progressing. Doing the 3D jewelry, which is so different from illustrating, is an experience that's given me much stimulation and discovery!
mj: What is your favorite project that you've designed so far?
chico: I have many favorite projects, but one would be the "ohh la la!" series I did for the U.K. publisher MQ. It was a job to create illustrations for four books--Perfect Body, Perfect Face, Perfect Hair, and Perfect Makeup. I had to do over one hundred illustrations in a tight schedule, which was a big challenge, but I still managed to do them in my own style.
mj: You have such an identifiable style; when did it solidify or has this always been the way that you draw/paint?
chico: I felt out a lot of different styles before I settled on my line work and watercolors, which I perfected around the year 2000. I think it's natural for a person to explore a lot of different styles and go through many changes artistically while growing as an artist, and I think it's a good thing to enjoy that process. I really love my current style, and I would like to develop it more in the future.
mj: Do you have new projects that you're working on?
chico: Right now, the project that I'm enjoying the most is continuing my textile design. Since I was a student, I've been interested in color combinations, and I was also interested in Japanese patterns. Textile design, in which there are endless possibilities for color combinations, is a field that I see as very profound. I would also like to try out combining my illustrations with textile design in the future.
mj: What would your ideal project be?
chico: I'm interested in producing fabric itself. Also, product development is something I want to pursue. Especially, I think that fashion and interior goods, things that we enjoy in the space of our daily lives, are particularly suited to my sensibility.
Here are a few THING YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT CHICO HAYASAKI:
A) THE FOUR MOST STYLISH PEOPLE THAT INFLUENCED ME:
1. My nieces. Their drawings are fantastic--I can't top them! Also, Although they're just children, their clothes are always perfectly coordinated, and they have such good taste for kids, which is so fascinating and cute.
2. My grandmother. She is very stylish. When she was a child, she read foreign magazines and ate foreign candy. She was a modern woman who loved new things.
3. I especially like the sculptor Amedeo Modigliani.
4. Marilyn Monroe. Especially her expression when she became an adult, with her sexy mouth and expressive, enchanting eyes. I don't know how many times I have sketched her.
5. Maybe this is different for a fashionable or stylish person, but the bodhisattva. When I draw women, I often reference her supple arms and the lines of her hands.
(There are so many stylish people who influence me, so I had to list 5.)
B) FOUR WAYS THAT STYLE MAKES THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
1. It helps make your heart richer. It's most important that you wear something you like in your own way, regardless of the price. If you wrap yourself with things you like, you feel better that day, and it gives you confidence. I find that fashion has that kind of merit.
2. It makes you feel special. For example, when I was a child, there was a skirt that my mother had knitted for me that I loved and wore all the time, and I also loved a pair of pants that my grandmother had sewed a little embroidery onto. There was something about clothes that only I had that gave me a special feeling.
3. It is passed down through the generations. My mother and grandmother have many treasures in their closets--western clothes, bags, and so on. The wicker bag that I used when I was a child was inherited by my niece this summer. I think that is very wonderful.
4. Don't you think that lifestyle itself, looking for your own style that suits yourself at any given time, is really fun? Going out shopping, spending precious time with family and loved ones--I think there are many different kinds of "styles in our lifestyles." If you can feel happy about your own style, I think many different things will go in a good direction.
C) FOUR OF MY FAVORITE DESIGNERS
1. Akira Minagawa of mina perhonen. I like his clothes, but I really love his original textiles.
2. Sigerson Morrison
3. Rafe NY
D) FOUR JOBS I HAVE HAD IN MY LIFE:
1. I worked at McDonald's--that was my part-time job when I was in high school.
2. Designer at an advertising agency
3. Assistant in the design department at an art college
E) FOUR MOVIES I WOULD WATCH OVER AND OVER (AND DO):
1. Twin Falls Idaho
2. Buffalo '66
3. Downtown 81
4. After Hours
F) FOUR PLACES WHERE I HAVE LIVED:
2. White Salmon, WA
G) FOUR TV SHOWS I LOVE TO WATCH:
Aside from news, I don't watch much TV.
H) FOUR PLACES I HAVE BEEN ON VACATION IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS:
1. Raleigh, NC. I spent Halloween there once with my sister's family.
2. Sapporo. My parents live there, so I always go there for winter vacation.
3. It's unfortunate, but I haven't gone so many places for vacation recently. But I did go to Hong Kong on business just a while ago. There, I participated in an event with the Hong Kong singer and actor Leo Ku, which was a new experience for me. (Leo Ku was a very nice person).
I) FOUR WEBSITES I VISIT DAILY (Or at least Weekly):
2. The world clock site, to check the time zones of my various jobs.
3. Superbuzzy.com, an online store of my friend's. It has a lot of Japanese fabrics.
4. Various furniture shops and fashion sites.
J) FOUR OF MY FAVORITE FOODS:
1. Tea, especially Japanese green tea
2. Any Japanese food!
3. Chinese food, especially noodles!
4. American Thanksgiving dinner!
K) FOUR PLACES I WOULD RATHER BE RIGHT NOW:
1. Portland, Oregon
2. I want to see the Henri Bendel Christmas display in New York.
3. Cannon Beach, Oregon, with my friend.
4. Victoria, British Columbia, in Canada