Yoko Furusho is a Japanese artist/illustrator based in New York. She was born in Tokyo and moved to New York to study illustration at the School of Visual Arts. After her graduation, she started to work as a professional illustrator/artist. She likes to draw details, textures and patterns with ink and acrylics. Her world is full of imaginary monsters, weird animals, and funny landscape. Now she is working as an illustrator for various magazines and newspapers. We sit down and talk about a variety of topics! Read below for the full interview…
Using fashion as a source of inspiration, it is evident that trends in fashion change as much as the seasons themselves. At the present moment, what kind of inspiration are you drawing from that world?
Yoko: I usually use fashion magazine(s) to get some inspiration. But it is not really about the trends. I’m more interested in fabric patterns, textures, and how the designers present the story on their run-way show and sets. Those are so magical.
How do you come up with your source of topics? It seem like most are a duality of humanity and nature, both sweet and psychedelic. What is your creative process behind these themes?
Yoko: My theme of drawing is about the reality in the fantasy world. I’ve liked drawing since I was a child and always draw when I feel happy/sad in my life. I draw from my imagination, but it’s all based on my daily life. For example, if I feel sad, bad monsters come to my fantasy world. Nature is my recent theme as well. After I worked with magazines about the nature in UK, I started to think about what I can do with my illustration for the earth.
Could you go into a bit more detail about your work? It seems your artwork’s composition is overflowing with visual metaphors. Like you mentioned, it involves fantasy…but perhaps a bit of humor?
Yoko: I’m so happy that you mentioned this. Yes, my illustrations are visual metaphors. My illustration is very talkative in secret. Each character and objects have a meaning or a story behind [them]. All of these objects are making the titled theme but that was my own personal thing, so I don’t want to force anybody to think about it. I’m happy if people feel something on their own.
Last year you live-painted freehanded right on a pane of glass! Is there no difference between illustrating on paper and illustrating on other various mediums? Or does it present a specific challenge?
Yoko: That was my first time drawing on glass so that was a challenge for me! Because my drawings have a lot of details and thin lines, it was difficult to work with other mediums and I never knew how it would look until I finish painting! But, I really enjoyed doing that because I can talk with many people, who in Barcelona, are very nice. I got a heavy muscle pain after that though!
Many of your clients and work are displayed overseas in places like Hong Kong, Barcelona, Singapore, etc. Being in New York, does your interest lie in showcasing in other places or is this all coincidental?
Yoko: This is coincidental. This is so funny because I went to school in New York though, yet I get more jobs from Europe and Asia. But I believe I could get these opportunities because I’m living here.
Well, I’ve talked to many Japanese artists through our website and they all say the same thing: “Going to art-school is not well received in Japan”. In this day and age, why do many Asians come to the West to study art? Do you feel Japan still needs progression to embrace the contemporary art world?
Yoko: I have many friends who went the the art school in Japan and I believe Japanese art students are very talented. They just don’t have the enough opportunities to show their stuff and they don’t know how to get the opportunities by themselves. Japan is a small country, so there will be only a few famous artists to do all the jobs. In addition, the society is not ready to see the new talents like the western people do. I think that’s why. So if the young Japanese artists has the energy to see outside, that’s good. The Japanese society is changing too, I believe.
Which anime has had the biggest artistic influence on you?
Yoko: I love anime a lot! But if you ask the biggest… I guess it’s Miyasaki and Fujiko Fujio. I think these are the animes I’ve seen the most.
As a kid you drew even when you weren’t in a state of happiness. Are you still the same as an adult? How does your work differ depending on your mood?
Yoko: Yes, it’s still same for me as an adult. I usually carry my sketch book, scribble everything there, and I will start working on the image afterwards. It always comes as a character. For example, “Why I Play with Bricks” was just the scribble of plant monsters and humans are fighting, and the girl is just playing with bricks in front of there. After I heard about the earthquake and radioactivity in Japan. I think many things and come up with that idea. It was about my sad feeling about powerless myself. So that was very ironic piece.
Can you give us an update on your children book(s)?
Yoko: One children’s book is coming up in Spain this year and two others (one of them is written by me) will come up in early next year!
In addition to that, what else can we expect to look forward too from you through 2012/early 2013?
Yoko: I will have my solo exhibition in Barcelona from September 5th. I’m working on many products (iPad case in U.S., iPhone case in HK, Bags in Japan, etc).
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