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Shoko Ishida

Shoko Ishida

Meet artist and illustrator from Detroit, Shoko Ishida.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

As an illustration graduate from the College of Creative Studies in Detroit, I currently work as an artist and illustrator in Michigan and have shown works with Portland Nucleus, WOW x WOW, and Spoke Art Gallery. My works have also been featured by Juxtapoz, Supersonic Art, and Illustration Age, as well as published in Communication Arts Magazine.

I was born in my mother’s hometown in Japan and grew up in a small city by the ocean. I first came to the States when I was still very young, and have been moving back and forth between the two countries during my childhood. I currently live and work near Detroit, MI, creating mixed media works mainly using acrylics, color pencil, ink, gouache, and pastel.

 

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

I live in a city that is calm and friendly, just north of Detroit. I feel at peace around here, but also a little apart from society. It takes me less than an hour to drive down to Detroit, which is where I went to school for. I also like spending my time there to see my colleagues and friends, and also to feel inspired. Detroit Institute of Arts Museum is definitely one of my favorite places to visit when I have the chance.

 

I live in a city that is calm and friendly, just north of Detroit. I feel at peace around here, but also a little apart from society.

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

The best thing is probably the quiet, calm, and peaceful surroundings, and also the fact that the artists here are supportive of each other. The worst would be that I’d have to drive if I want to go anywhere. As much as I love to stay home in the calm neighborhood, I do sometimes I miss the more energetic parts of the city and to connect with other creatives.

 

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

Challenging, supportive, connected.

 

How did you start your career in art?

The summer after sophomore year in college, I had the opportunity to show at an art fair along with few other selected college students from Michigan. That was the first time I created personal works to showcase and sell at an event, and the first time I directly talked with people outside of school and family about my works. At first, I was very nervous and afraid of what people may think of my art, but I was surprised to find they were well received. Hearing them tell me how much they liked the works, I felt very flattered and grateful and made me want to explore more – which made me interested in showing works at galleries. I wanted to go into freelance illustration but had a future goal of doing gallery works.

The year after graduating, I had the opportunity when Tim from WOW x WOW Gallery invited me to be part of their first online gallery show. I can’t thank him enough for inviting an artist like myself who’ve never shown at a gallery before, giving me the experience and exposure. After that, I had the great honor of receiving more invitations from WOW x WOW, Portland Nucleus Gallery, and Supersonic Art for a show at Spoke Art Gallery. I am very grateful that I can keep creating personal works to show at galleries, and I strive to keep doing so on the side.

 

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

Both of my parents were not fond of the idea when I first told them I wanted to go to an art college (They were expecting me to say engineering, medical, or law, which I’m sure most people with Asian parents can relate), but they never really denied me of what I wanted to do. Since they don’t know anything about the creative industry, they seemed to worry, but they’ve always supported me of what I wanted to do so I’m beyond thankful for that.

 

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

I would like to keep exploring personal works for gallery shows, experimenting with materials and themes, but also put more focus on creating illustrations for publications, or work in the publishing industry itself. Would love to work on my own book as well one of these days, whether it be an art book, or with a short story!

 

I would like to keep exploring personal works for gallery shows, experimenting with materials and themes, but also put more focus on creating illustrations for publications, or work in the publishing industry itself.

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

I would love to say, Alexander McQueen. But, if they have to be present, the first person who came to mind was Aimer, a singer from Japan. Her first album “Sleepless Nights” was created in hopes of those songs to be something people would like to listen to when they can’t sleep at night. They were gently beside me when I had a hard time falling asleep, and her music theme often times being night and stars, it really speaks to me and gives me inspiration every time I listen to her songs. A collaborative art show would be dreamlike.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

I notice that they are positive, uplifting, empowering, independent women who strive to work in the field they want to work in. They are hardworking and seem to have a story of their own. Because we’re both women, we feel the connection and feel open to each other to share our stories. There’s definitely a feel of comfort being able to do so.

 

Because we’re both women, we feel the connection and feel open to each other to share our stories. There’s definitely a feel of comfort being able to do so.

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

The earliest memory I have of being exposed to art is my aunt and her hobby. Whenever we visited my old grandparents’ house, I would walk up the creaking wood stairs early in the morning, and quietly open the door to my aunt’s room. There were tubes of acrylic paints and canvases scattered on the floor, finished and unfinished paintings hanging o the walls, and the smell of paint and paper filled the room. It was one of my favorite places to be.

My mother didn’t pursue art as a career, but she was always an artist at heart. I remember as a child, I was always astonished by how beautiful she colors the coloring books using color pencils. She enjoyed tole painting, stained glass, making beautiful beaded accessories, and anything creative. I love her hands. They are so warm, delicate, and create beautiful things. As a creative and as a strong, compassionate woman and mother, I can’t describe in words how much I look up to her.

 

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

I haven’t had many personal problems myself, but I know there’s still this undeniable sense of unfairness, the feeling that females in a more male-dominant industry are not taken seriously. At times there may be people who will have a different motive when they ask for something, take in your opinion, or give you a compliment on your works. It seems to me that being a female in this creative industry can actually be something positive. I feel strong connections with other female artists, being more likely to be able to relate to the artwork, and the sense of support we have for each other.

 

Be bold and confident, be fearless. Don’t let other people put you in the box, and do what you want to do – keep striving, and don’t let someone or the society prevent you or discourage you of doing what you want.

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

Be bold and confident, be fearless. Don’t let other people put you in the box, and do what you want to do – keep striving, and don’t let someone or the society prevent you or discourage you of doing what you want. Be passionate, determined, be unapologetically yourself. That’s who you are as an artist, and your works are part of yourselves that you’re putting out in the world. I hope you can find your voice within, your passion, and to also try new things and keep challenging yourself to grow as an artist.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Shoko Ishida.

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