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Eri Aikawa

Eri Aikawa

Meet illustrator from Japan, Eri Aikawa.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

こんにちは!Hello! My name is Eri Aikawa.  I’m half Japanese, part Filipino and Chinese.  I was born on 1993 in Yokohama, Japan, I moved to Bacolod City, Philippines when I was about 3 years old and been going back and forth to Japan to visit my father, so basically, my childhood is a mixture of Japanese and Filipino cultures. I took Bachelor of Fine Arts and majored in Painting, I switched to Advertising Arts once but I knew from the get-go that it wasn’t for me.  I’m a freelance illustrator/painter currently residing in Japan. I work predominantly with oils, acrylic, and digital media.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

I live in Saitama, Kawagoe which is an hour away from Tokyo. It’s a pretty quaint place full of sweet potatoes and old people. They call it the old town of Japan.

 

I live in Saitama, Kawagoe which is an hour away from Tokyo. It’s a pretty quaint place full of sweet potatoes and old people. They call it the old town of Japan.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

Most of my creative endeavors happened in Bacolod City, the city where most of my life took place.  I’ve been living back and forth in Japan all my life, but recently, I moved back to Japan for good. I live in a quiet suburb, maybe a little too quiet. Kawagoe City: a blend of old and new. I like living here because I feel like it has a bit of everything, a small art supply shop which is among my main stomping grounds. The best thing about this place is how safe and peaceful it is. The worst thing is that it gets too peaceful which makes me feel lonely sometimes and lastly, no 24/7 ATM machines on top of everything else.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Challenging

Humbling 

Overwhelming

 

How did you start your career in art?

I actually didn’t know as a child that making art is a career option. All my life since I was able to hold a pencil I’ve been drawing, and I never looked back.   I started taking it seriously during my freshmen year in college when a good friend of ours (Barry Cervantes) introduced me to a group of local artists that helped me exhibit my works in malls, gradually to local galleries, then it went national and international.  I did an illustration recently with Nylon Japan for their Horoscope page which is a huge deal for me for someone still starting with their illustrator career.  Small and steady steps. The faster you rise, the faster you fall.

 

Small and steady steps. The faster you rise, the faster you fall.

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

Most of them were, some weren’t as much but they eventually came around.  My mum was one of them.  She was actually the reason why I started drawing. She was the one who gave me my first Crayola set. She would buy me that infamous art set which I’m certain every 90s kid are familiar with, the one that has a black plastic exterior it had markers that would dry up in one use maybe two at most, inside it has a watercolor set it came with a plastic paintbrush that was too hard to use. I’d always rip my paper every time I use the paintbrush. I’d carry that everywhere around our house.  It was a 90s art kid’s galore! I loved that thing so much. I blame her for all of this. Thank you mum.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

I would love to be a full-time artist but in my current situation it seems highly unlikely, maybe someday who knows?  I’ve been posting my painting process on Youtube just for my own pleasure and so far it’s going good.  People seem to enjoy my videos, hopefully, this would turn into something, and open up opportunities in the future. I would also want to publish a book and start a brand with my husband, Ryo. We’d call it “ComeDrop”.

 

I would love to be a full-time artist but in my current situation it seems highly unlikely, maybe someday who knows?

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

There are so maybe people and brands that I would love to collaborate with; I just can’t choose one.  I am a huge fan of Mark Ryden, James Jean, and Gary Baseman, so maybe one of them.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

Japan is still a very sexist country in my opinion.  Women here are mostly dense.  I’ve only seen 2 types of women: the dull and shallow or exciting and crazy. There’s no in-between but, recently they’re gradually opening up to modern ideals, despite their slow pace but that’s something.

 

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

Definitely my mother, She taught me how to draw (somewhat) and I took techniques from her.  I admired her drawing skills when I was little.  Her style looks like it came from a 50’s fashion catalog that’s how I would describe it. It’s funny because when I was young I had this weird obsession so much so that I challenged myself to improve my drawing until I can be as good as her. I’d always compare my drawing to my mum’s and I’d always say to myself in frustration “She’s still better than me! I need to surpass her and then I could be proud of what I created”.  That day eventually came, I was so happy, I might’ve drawn like crazy that day. 

Bacolod is a small City, that means the art community there was also small, Everyone knows one another, one particular artist I admire during my college years was Guenivere Decena.  She’s a spectacular artist and a wonderful musician. I learned so much from her, we’d always go to her studio and take a look at her paintings. It gave me the drive to keep on painting.  During my 18th birthday, she gifted me her sketchbook and it was the best birthday present I’ve ever received.  I still have it, and flip through it from time to time.  

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

From my personal experience, I don’t think so,  Sexism is old school, and people nowadays are finally catching up albeit slow.  Female artists are gradually getting recognized.  I don’t think gender really matters.  I kind of think, racism is more of an issue recently.  I’ve had friends that lost their clients because of not being the client’s preferred race which is ridiculous.

 

You should not give up on your dreams.  If you want to be an artist, then go for it.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

I’m not the best at giving advice.  I’m still struggling to get in the grind but I’ll tell you one thing that always stuck with me, a quote by Steven Pressfield: “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

You should not give up on your dreams.  If you want to be an artist, then go for it.  A friend told me that she respects me because I didn’t stop believing in myself and she wished she did the same.  And one more thing, GET.SHIT.DONE.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Eri Aikawa.

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