CWC International recently notified me about four new artists from Japan who just joined their roster: Hiromi Sato, Kana Kobayashi, Kotono Nanase, and Yurie Kamii. As I scanned through their various sample work, I was fascinated by the different styles that each brought to illustration. I'm very excited to show you a bit of their work today and share a mini-interview I did with each artist.
I was instantly taken with the above illustration by Hiromi Sato. Hiromi combines delicate lines and collages of fabric, wool, and other odds and ends to create charming artwork. Her work covers a wide range of subject matter, from nostalgic fashion illustrations to children's books.
mj: Who are your influences?
hiromi: Aubrey Beardsley, my mother.
mj: What are you working on now?
hiromi: I am currently working on artwork for my solo show, which will open on July 15th. I will be exhibiting at a cafe where they sell delicious cupcakes so I am keeping with the motif of sweets in my work.
Yurie Kamii has a background in advertising design that informs her highly stylized commercial work. Her cute, sexy girls are instantly recognizable, and they can be found on beauty product packaging in Japan, as well as in numerous fashion magazines.
mj: Where do you find inspiration for your work?
yurie: I often find inspiration from magazines and movies. I like looking through the fashion editorials of magazines like Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Figaro, Spur, Ginza, etc., on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes when I am watching a movie that stars an actress I like, I'm inspired to draw women.
Also, I have a habit of burning frankincense and patchouli incense in an aroma pot when I work. I feel like the scent heightens my concentration and the incense-burning has now become a regular part of my work routine.
mj: What is your favorite project that you've done so far?
yurie: I don't think I can choose one. Up until now I have been working primarily on fashion and beauty-related projects, which is exactly what I want, and I have enjoyed working on jobs in both of these realms. Perhaps it is because I used to work in advertisement design, I like projects that have clear and well-defined directions.
Kana Kobayashi became an illustrator after working as a hair stylist, an occupation that has influenced her artistically. She specializes in fanciful collages of animals, objects, and patterns. In her artwork, she first creates motifs in watercolor, crayon, and acrylic paint, then she digitally collages them into one piece.
mj: How does your work as a hair stylist inspire your work now?
kana: Originally I wanted to become an illustrator who drew landscapes but I fell in love with fashion after I became a hairstylist. I feel that a hairstylist's job is similar to that of an illustrator's in the sense that in both professions, it is important to be sensitive to what the client wants while simultaneously providing a service that draws from personal knowledge, experience, and feelings. I used to file magazines cut-outs to study up on hairstyles - these cut-outs have remained useful as I still use them as references for my illustrations. I think everything I studied and learned as a hairstylist served as a foundation to my career as an illustrator.
mj: What would be your ideal project?
kana: I would like to create work that would please and satisfy everyone who was involved in the process--from those who reviewed my work to my family who supports me each step of the way.
Kotono Nanase worked as an interior designer before becoming an illustrator. Her fun, stylish illustrations of fashionable girls and interiors have appeared in many fashion magazines in Japan, and she recently created the mascot for a new department store in Tokyo.
mj: How does your prior career as an interior designer inspire or inform your work as an illustrator?
kotono: I had not really thought about this before but perhaps I do have a tendency to fixate upon illustrating furniture and accessories, which may be an influence of my prior career. I believe that it has also served in informing the perspective of my illustrations.
mj: Do you see a connection between interior design and fashion?
kotono: Whether you are taking a photograph or drawing an artwork, the background and scenery is very important. In the way that you would match a bag or a pair of shoes to an outfit, I think the interior in which it is placed should also complement and enhance an outfit. In that sense, interior design is an integral part of fashion.
You can see more works on Hiromi in the main artist roster at cwc-i.com. To see more work by Kana, Kotono, and Yurie, click on "Artists", then "Young Artists" at www.cwc-i.com.
Many thanks to cwc-i, who was kind enough to translate all of the interviews into English for me and helped facilitate this wonderful exchange. A big thanks as well to all the artists: Hiromi, Yurie, Kana, and Kotono--best of luck to all of you!