They always say it isn’t what you do, it is who you know. It has been a blessing to interview and connect with creatives across the world, which led to a young artist who reached out to me the other week. Juuri is a Tokyo born Japanese/American artist who happens to work out of a studio in my neighboring state of Oklahoma. Her work portrays the delicate beauty of Japanese women (and sometimes a man or two) expressed through layers of mixed media and strategic paint drips. We talk a bit about her ongoing exhibits, Japanese films, and more! Scroll below to read the full interview…
Juuri, tell my readers a bit about you and your work.
Juuri: I create artwork featuring Japanese-themed mixed media females. I like to layer paper collage, gold leaf, and wild paint drizzles to create a beautiful texture and energy. I am ¾ Japanese and have dual citizenship in both the US and Japan, so I think my own cultural mix plays into the themes of my work.
So, let’s talk about your solo show and how that is going?
Juuri: My 2011 solo show, entitled “Mirage -Maboroshi-” opened May 13th at :@1614, which is an art space in the Plaza District of Oklahoma City. I think people got to see something beautiful and a little unusual for the OK art scene. The show will be up until June 7th. If you happen to be in the area, go check it out!
Is Oklahoma a good place to be an artist? Do you feel it is a good place to remain inspired?
Juuri: Oklahoma is both a good and bad place for art. It’s good because the concentration of artists is fewer than in a metropolis like L.A., so each person’s work stands out more. People are also positive and genuinely supportive of others. OK can also be bad because we are distant from the hottest worldwide art cities, and many artists settle for mediocrity both in their craft and their attitudes. I happened to start my art career here, but I’m definitely checking the whole world out to see where I want to go next! My ultimate goal is to end up back in my home“town” of Tokyo.
I love Smoulder Mist! I also see it is reasonably priced! Could you explain a bit about the buying/selling process from these exhibits?
Juuri: [laughs] Why thank you. When I have my work in a gallery, a buyer can contact the gallery owner and he will mark it ‘sold’ for them until the exhibit is over. Of course the gallery takes a nice percentage of each sale, but that doesn’t bother me because they are doing the important work of showing my work to collectors. When my art isn’t in a show, I sell them myself through Etsy (www.etsy.com/shop/takotako83), and I am re-doing my website now to make it easier for people to buy direct.
You said film inspires some of your work. Could you list some of your favorite Japanese movies?
Juuri: Japanese films have a rich, thoughtful quality that affects my mood, ideas, and emotion. I feel I am able to produce more poignant work after being influenced by those feelings. My favorites are:
- 1. Departures (Japanese title: Okuribito) I just love the beauty and very real relationships in this film; though it deals with an unusual subject, preparing the deceased for funerals.
- 2. Be With You (Japanese title: Ima, Ai Ni Yukimasu) The happiness-amidst-sadness and the lush outdoor scenes were lovely.
- 3. Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World (Japanese title: Sekai no Chuushin de Ai wo Sakebu) The theme of rain somehow calms and inspires me. The drama version, which was even sadder than the film, was great too. I find a certain beauty in sadness. I think that’s a Japanese thing.
Why is it you seldom draw men in your work?
Juuri: I often ask myself that. I don’t dislike men in any way… in fact I usually feel more comfortable dealing with them than with women. I just enjoy drawing those long eyelashes, full lips, and puffy hair… maybe I’m trying to express my feelings with each girl that I draw… maybe they are really me. I don’t know yet.
How do you come up with the non-objective watercolor background for your paintings? Is it random creativity or is there a method to your madness?
Juuri: I sometimes use watercolor for the background splashes and sometimes I use acrylic. In either case, I try to make a wild mix of forms that compliments the calm female subject in the painting. I do think about design, direction, and focal points when creating the drips and mixing the colors. So, I guess it’s 50% planning and 50% controlled by the wishes of the paint!
When your solo show wraps up are you going to chill out on sandy beaches or can we expect you back in the studio?
Juuri: I will definitely need some time to chill on the beach! For the few weeks before the show, I was working so hard that my endless to-do list even seeped into my dreams. But, after everything was done, all the hard work was worth it and I’m looking forward to more shows. So most likely I will be lying on the beach pondering what type of girl to paint next.
We recently interviewed Yoskay Yamamoto and he talked a bit about his contributions to the Relief efforts in Japan. I know you participated as well! Could you tell us a bit about how important it was to contribute and be apart to this fantastic charity event?
Juuri: Yoskay is one of my favorite artists! So many famous people put their talents together to help out the victims. I think that is wonderful. You know, I called my grandma in Tokyo minutes after the earthquake just to check on her. She had been hiding under the bed, but seemed fine. We have a lot of earthquakes there. I didn’t realize how bad it was for the people up North until the next morning at work when it was on every news channel and every web page. I just went to the bathroom and cried my eyes out.
[callout]”I called my grandma in Tokyo minutes after the earthquake just to check on her. She had been hiding under the bed…”[/callout]
But, I’m glad I was able to use my talent to help in some tiny way. I sent a piece to JapanLA for their #PrayforJapan show in March, an ema tablet for Christina Conway’s Artists Help Japan eBay auction, some local events here in OKC, and I will be sending a piece to Tokyo for a summer fundraiser event, Today, We Are All Japanese. I’ll just keep doing more and more, as much as I can… because I still feel uneasy & guilty. I need to help more.
Lastly, any advice for any artists out there?
Juuri: Become the best at your particular style. Practice daily, take classes or read up online. Don’t let other people’s negativity hold you back. Volunteer you art/time for charitable causes, and good things will happen for you, too. Be courteous and professional with everyone you deal with. I guess that’s about all.
Want to check out more of Juuri’s work? Check out her cookie crumb trail below: