Thursday, 28 December 2017

West elm Kingston store

I wanted to write about West elm before the new year. This was one of the exciting thing that happened this year! Few of my products from my online shop is now stored and available to buy in west elm Kingston store.

West elm is an American furniture and interior store and they also have a programme called west elm LOCAL which is a programme to connect the local makers and the community together in their each store location. The artists are working locally and using locally sourced materials to make the products. I think this is a brilliant way to bring the people and artists together and make each store unique. It was my first wholesale experience and I have learnt a lot from this project.

My stocked items at the store are linocut prints of London icons, 2018 London calendar, map of London poster, set of London postcards and Thames river greeting cards.

Unfortunately I had already left UK for the store opening (which was on 8th December) but so many of my friends were sending me photos of the store with my items. Thank you so much!! And this could not have happened without the help of 2 friends who kindly helped me with the packaging and the delivery of the products to the store. Thank you so much!! xx

Although I was in the amidst of all the packing and sorting out for the move to Japan, it was worth the hustle of getting all my products ready, printed and partially packaged and doing all the product administration. I really want to see the store myself when I get back to London.

年が明けてしまう前に、今年の大きな仕事の話を上げておきたくて書いています。West elm Kingstonへの作品出店は、私にとって今年の大きなニュースのうちの一つとなりました。 オンラインショップで扱っていた商品のいくつかが、今月からキングストンにあるwest elmのお店で購入できます。

west elmはアメリカ全国で展開している、おしゃれな家具とインテリアのお店です。その中でも、west elm LOCALという地域密着型プロジェクトが行われていて、店舗ごとにその地域で活躍するアーティストの作品をお店で取り扱い、地域の皆さんを作品と繋ぐプロジェクトをやっています。アーティストはその店舗地域で活動し、作品に使う材料もその地域、または国で揃えたものを使ってのものづくりということが前提です。私は今回、イギリスでのwest elm2店舗目となる、キングストン店舗でそのプログラムに参加させていただくことになりました。お店で商品を扱ってもらうというのは、初めての経験で、今回色々と学ばせていただきました。




To b. by agnès b. Premium Schedule Kit Book

2017 has only 3days left. Did you get your 2018 diary already? This year I have worked on an illustrated Paris map to go in inside the 2018 diary by To b. by agnès b. published by Takarajimasha publishing.

This was a relatively quick job not as short as some of the jobs I had to do in the past. 1 week for rough and another week to finish the final. Although I had 2 weeks I had to deal with time difference of 8 hours between UK and Japan. That meant I had to hand in the work a day early.

I really enjoyed illustrating the map. This was a job I had to think about the balance with text that goes in later on. So when I saw the final product I was really happy how illustration and the text fit nicely. I finally got to see the final product when I arrived in Japan in November.

2017年も残すことあと3日となりました。もう2018年の手帳は買いましたか?私は今年、宝島社出版のTo b. by agnès b. Premium Schedule Kit Book 2018年手帳の最後に入る、パリのイラストの地図を描く機会をいただきました。


Friday, 8 December 2017

Starting a life in Japan

A LOT has happened since my last post. I'm writing this post in Japan, sitting on a little sofa with my husband next to me in this little town where I grew up about 2 hours train ride from Tokyo.

It's funny because I'm taking TEFL English teaching course online and it describes the feeling of arriving in a new country: you are in the tourist/honeymoon phase first, excited about all the new things around you then comes negotiation phase or irritation-to-anger phase where everything you were used to does not seem to happen in the country. After few months you start to realize the customs of the country and you will get along and settle in. ( or some case you absolutely hate it and go back.) I've pretty much done that up to the irritation-to-anger phase. Things are starting to get a little easier.

I left Japan when I was 15 years old to study abroad. Pretty much never LIVED in Japan since then. So coming back after many years and trying to live here is proven to be not easy at all.

I'm hoping for a positive outcome from this crazy move. I want to show my husband this beautiful Japan's nature throughout the year and get some inspiration from here for my future work. I'm also looking forward to spending some time with my family after many years of being away.
This was a bit different from my usual post but thought I would update what I'm up to.





Photos show some highlights so far.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Grow your own and see...

I have recently completed this illustration inspired by my own vegetable garden at home.

Growing up in a countryside in Japan, my family had grown rice and we had enough to feed us for a whole year. So we never had to buy rice from shops for a long time until we let go of the field. We still have a little patch to grow vegetables and my mum grows parsley and shiso herbs in flower pots. 

Until I started growing vegetables myself, I had never really paid attentions to how many creatures I could attract to the vegetable garden.  Yes, there are fox and squirrels in London but you don't really see them this close in the open.
Before moving,  I was growing basils in a flower pot just outside my front door. One day I was plucking some leaves from the pot and I felt some presence behind me. When I turned around I saw a fox sneaking up on me. I quickly walked inside the flat but I could see that the fox was attracted to the beautiful smell of basil through frosted glass. It stayed there for a while. 

You can never relax with strawberries and blueberries. That squirrel is always back when you are not looking, or even, when you are looking. Yes I think I know your face by now! You are so bold and look right at me while you munch on my strawberry. 

Bees love lavenders and borages. Even though I am very scared of them, they are generally good. I am happy if I am contributing to their honey collection a little.
I have also spotted 8 magpies in the garden. I think they are a family. I even saw them trick up a pigeon to take some fruits themselves.  

I think I spend far too much time observing these little creatures but they all have personality of their own and sometimes amusing. Now all I need is Sun this summer so that I can finally eat red tomatoes. 

Sketching out the idea





蜂は正直苦手なのですが、ラベンダーやボレッジの花の蜜を食べによく来ます。少しでもハチミツのもとになっているのなら、良いかな。野菜の受粉もしてくれるし、なによりこのクマみたいなふわふわのBumble beeがかわいいです。マグパイという鳥(カササギ)もよく来るのですが、この間8匹も同時に庭にいるのを見かけました。たぶんみんな家族だと思うのですが。鳩を騙して、自分たちだけで果物を独り占めしてるのも目撃。


Friday, 14 July 2017

Local hero cafe mural work

I have worked on rather large scale canvases in the last month.
I was asked to recreate the takeout cup design I did for Local hero cafe 3 years ago onto their walls.

This was my original design for the paper cups. The brief was fairly open. The owner wanted a cyclist holding coffee with fume coming out. So I came up with the sketch of the cyclist passing London scene and everyone turning around for the aroma of coffee. Local hero cafes are located in Kingston and Fulham (both within London) so I included the iconic cityscapes and the Richmond and Bushy park deer as this would tie in nicely with both cafe location. I then added latte art as trees in the scene.

I have taken some photos of how the mural was done. (Please excuse me for amateurish video! I was experimenting with time-lapse setting and the camera wasn't set still...😅   )

At first I was little scared to make the mark on such a big canvas but as soon as I started I really enjoy having such a massive space to draw freely! I have also discovered new materials for mural jobs.




Local hero serves hot breakfast and freshly made daily salad and serves nice coffee. Come and see the mural in Kingston and Fulham store and enjoy a nice cup of drink.

Local hero カフェのキングストン、フルハム店と二つとも描きましたので、お近くにお寄りの方は是非訪れてみてください。イングリッシュブレックファーストや日替わりのサラダなど、おいしいコーヒーも飲めるおすすめのカフェです。

Monday, 12 June 2017

Business card and logo design

About one and a half month ago, I had been asked to design a business card and a logo for a flower artist and my friend, Yoco.

des bisous Logo design

She creates chic wreath and flower & candle decorations/arrangements. She takes custom orders to create unique and beautiful arrangements just for you.
Below is the finished design for the business card. Her trademark is the bob-cut hair style and red lipsticks.


Below is the design we did not end up using but we both liked. The wreath that Yoco made for me for New Year's decoration. 


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Sounds of the City

I was very happy and literally jumping around when I found out my illustration for the joint AOI and TFL competition, "Sounds of the city" was shortlisted.
The exhibition is now opened at London Transport Museum.

When I heard the theme for the competition - "Sounds of the city" my thoughts went for the Ronnie Scotts jazz bar. ( I have been there couple of times and love it! The ambience and the gigs are great and the cocktails!) I also remembered being mesmerised by seeing red lanterns decorating the whole street in China town around Chinese new year. So they were really the starting point for my illustration "Interconnected city." Then there's sounds of busy Southbank scene in the summer, Prom of Royal Albert Hall.
I also started this piece few months after referendum - Brexit was announced. I wanted to show how London is a diverse city and different cultures are co-existing and interconnected.

Above is a sketch of the illustration. 

You can follow how I made the illustrations in steps in my instagram.

"Sounds of the City" exhibition from 19th May to 3rd September
Place : London Transport Museum

Finished illustration poster

5月19日から私のイラストレーション、「Interconnected City」がロンドンの交通博物館(London Transport Museum)で展示されています。今年の頭、AOIからコンペ『Sounds of the City』の入選が決まったと連絡が来たときは、嬉しくて飛び跳ねていました。2000人以上の応募の中から選ばれた100人の入選者は、交通博物館で5月から9月まで、作品を展示することになっています。最優秀賞者は、ロンドンの地下鉄やバス停などにポスターとしてロンドン市内中に作品が発表されるということで、そういった機会を与えてくれるロンドン交通局TFLの主催するコンペに入選できたことはとても嬉しいことです。

コンペのテーマは『Sounds of the City』。街の音。と聞いたときに、ロンドンで好きなジャズバーRonnie Scottを思い浮かべました。そして、中華街のお正月で見た真っ赤な提灯。「音」ではないけど、ロンドンには色んな場所があって、場所によってカルチャーや集まる人や雰囲気も違うけど、それが共存している街。それがロンドン。ロンドンは私にとって、そういった違う背景を持つ人たちが一緒に過ごせる、そしてそんなお互いを認め合えるし自分が自分でいられる街だと思い、そういった街を表現したいなと描き始めました。サウスバンクの夏の賑やかな感じや、ロイヤル・アルバート・ホールでのプロムも含んだり。


At the private view 

『Sounds of the City』展
【場所】London Transport Museum ロンドン交通博物館

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Illustrated Calendar

I am planning to make a calendar for next year.
I didn't leave enough time for myself last year to make a calendar. So I am starting early this year to complete 12 illustrations.

It already went through one idea change from my initial idea but I am settled on doing less known places in or around London this year. I happened to visit Greenwich recently and I just wanted to capture the place in my own style. Another inspiration is this book, "Tired of London, Tired of Life" - by Tom Jones and illustrated by Hannah Warren. ( Published from Virgin Books). It is a book listing less known places in London and you can visit a place a day. I always loved this book and went to places that were mentioned in the book and loved them. ( I even written a blog post about those exciting places I visited from the book here. )

"Tired of London, Tired of Life"

Here are the illustrations I have done so far. I am also trying to limit the use of colour in each image to practice my colour palette.
The locations are entirely my selfish choice of my favourite places around London. OK, so it's 3 down, 9 more to go!

Greenwich observatory and the university building

Bushy Park before spring


既に最初のテーマのアイデアはボツにしてしまったのですが、どうやら2018年のカレンダーは「ロンドンのあまり知られていない場所」をテーマに12枚描いていこうかと思います。最近グリニッチに行く機会があり、グリニッチ天文台や、あの壮大な大学の建物の雰囲気を絵にしてみたいと思ったのと、私が愛読している「Tired of London, Tired of Life」にも影響されてこのテーマにしてみました。この本に載っている場所を訪れたときのブログも過去に書いております。ご興味のある人はこちらも読んでみてください。ロンドン市内の有名どころだけじゃなく、私の独断と勝手で選ばせていただきます、「あまり知られていないけど素敵な場所」をイラストにしていきます。イラストは既に描いた3枚、あと残り9枚!頑張って完成させます。

Photo I took of Kingston riverside.

Work in progress for Kingston image.

Kingston-upon-Thames riverside

Friday, 17 March 2017

Wedding custom orders

December last year, a good friend of mine in Japan had her wedding. I was asked to do a welcome board with the illustration of the couple, which is quite common to have at weddings in Japan.  
I was also asked to give it a Christmas feel since the wedding was in December. She also asked for little forest creatures to be included.


I haven't been to too many weddings but it was one of the most emotional wedding. I was mentioned in her little speech as one of the girls who changed her life in school. ( I had no idea! until I heard the speech.) She was extremely shy at school and I apparently made her to open up. She is now one of the most bubbly and a friendly atmosphere-setter of my friends. I remember talking to her in the first few days of school because she was busy drawing in her sketchbook at her desk. She is really good at drawing.


And here is another wedding commission I had recently of a couple. They are a lovely couple of English man and Lithuanian lady. They wanted to reflect each other's background so I illustrated the girl in folk Lithuanian costume and English gentleman. This was a cover illustration for their wedding invites. 
Head over to my website for detailed look on both wedding commissions.


Monday, 6 March 2017

Tea packaging design

After coming back from India in January I had a meeting with my agency. I have visited India for 3 times now and it has been my desire for years to illustrate India. Tea packaging was one of the theme I wanted to illustrated for a long time. This coincided with my discussion with agency of "putting my illustration in context." So I decided to do packaging illustrations.
I've visited Mumbai many times and had chai from street stalls, at stations and at home. And I like the buzz of the Mumbai city. Rickshaw for example, I found the drivers' skill to take you through the hectic traffic amazing. They are often chilled out and barefoot and driving in casual style. So I included him in the design for Mumbai cutting chai.


For the second packaging I picked Darjeeling tea. In contrast with colourful and cheerful Mumbai chai, this packaging is serene and green. The tea plantation is located in the mountain and the tea plantation is lush green. During my research I have also come across many articles about the tea pickers were under paid and living condition that the tea farm should provide them weren't at a minimum standard. So please buy fair trade next time you go and shop for tea. So what do you think of these packaging?


Thursday, 26 January 2017

New Year, new resolution

Little bit late to say it but.....Happy new year! 2017 is a year of the Rooster in Japan.

My resolution last year was to stay on top of things. ( I think I have achieved it quite well. Or perhaps it slipped with this post being put up late?) 
This year I would like to continue creating more illustrations, make use of social media more for exposure and if I'm torn between whether to do it or not, just DO IT. This last resolution was one of my slogan when I was in school. I tried so many things following this little rule of mine and I almost never regretted for not trying things. So I thought it will be good to bring it back for me:)



Friday, 20 January 2017

Looking back at 2016

Now I have come back from holiday and started a fresh year of 2017, I would like to write about how 2016 has been for me.

2016 was definitely a year of "change." I had signed up to do a year of editorial work with a Japanese magazine and I had few series of jobs that came via my illustration agency. I was also finding that the balance of doing day job and doing illustration was getting off balance. So I decided to put myself in the full-time illustration life. (Regardless of whether it was going to pay me or not, I had some savings and just wanted to try.)

It was really hard for me to be a full-time illustrator. I realised that being an illustrator is a very lonely work. Until February 2016, I spent more than half of the week working in a busy cafe. Serving coffee and food, meeting people and working with a team of colleagues. Suddenly this interaction with people had stopped and I felt very uneasy. I felt like I was being depressed from stuck at home.




New illustration created for Illustrated 2016 from sketches at Kew Garden earlier in the year.

So I decided to keep myself busy. -busy with creating illustrations. I applied to participate in exhibitions and fairs.
I was invited to take part in Illustrated 2016. It was my first major group exhibition to take part in central London. Then an interview with a Japanese web magazine came along. The t-shirt I designed was in a group exhibition in Tokyo during the summer. I was also invited and decided to take part in a group exhibition in Japan in the winter. I also spent a good time creating illustration for TFL competition - which I later found out I was shortlisted.

そこで、目標を立てて、それに向かって作品を描いていくことにしました。何かしら目標があれば、それに向かって続けていけるかなと。ロンドンでのいくつかのイラストの展示に参加を申し込みました。そこで、『Illustrated 2016』に招待されました。これは私にとって初めてのロンドン市内での大きなイラストのグループ展参加でした。そして、その直後、どこで私のことを聞きつけてくださったのか、ウェブマガジン『灯台もと暮らし』さんからも取材をしていただきました。夏にはTシャツデザインをしているDesign@rt Museumでの東京でのグループ展があったり、また12月にはLaundry Graphics Galleryにて、グループ展にも招待され、参加いたしました。夏に、コンペに向けて描いた絵も入選し、2017年春からロンドンの交通博物館で展示予定です。

Laundry Graphics Gallery, Record jacket illustration  
Laundry Graphics Gallery, Record jacket illustration

Now I have written and looking back at what I have done in 2016, I was able to do a lot more illustration than previous years. Not enough to be full-time though but I re-discovered my love for being an illustrator. I have also found out that I want to be around people. Being around people is also an inspiration for my illustration. So for 2017, I am still keeping my illustration as my main priority but I am going back to my day job to maintain myself illustrating with a happy mind.