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Utomaru

Utomaru

Meet Japanese illustrator, Yuko Motoki aka Utomaru.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was in love with art since I was very little.
It was a natural thing for me to wish to be a professional artist.
I have always been fascinated by the illustrations from the 70s and the 80s and it influenced my style a lot.
I started making art for the local musicians when I was a high school student.
I studied graphic design and illustration at Tama Art University.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.
Tokyo is a very old city. There are old book stores and record shops and I loved them.
It is fun to wander around with no purpose.
I like my country although I sometimes don’t really fit in because Japan as a nation became more and more conservative these days and individuality is not appreciated enough.

 

Tokyo is a very old city. There are old book stores and record shops and I loved them. It is fun to wander around with no purpose.
What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?
Best: No guns.
Worst: Super heavy tax.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.
Sorry, I can’t really choose.

 

How did you start your career in art?
I started my career when I was a high school student. I often went to see live shows at small nightclubs in Tokyo. One day my favorite local musician saw my website and asked me to design their CD cover and flyer. It was the first time that I was paid for my art.

 

I started my career when I was a high school student. I often went to see live shows at small nightclubs in Tokyo. One day my favorite local musician saw my website and asked me to design their CD cover and flyer. It was the first time that I was paid for my art.

 

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?
Yes, they are. My mother and father teach in high school and they do not know about the art business that much but they were very supportive and they encouraged me to go to art college. They are pretty proud of me now. My husband is also very supportive. The conversations I have with him give me a lot of ideas and inspirations for my work.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?
I would love to hold my solo exhibition in a big city in other countries.

 

I would love to hold my solo exhibition in a big city in other countries.

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

 

How would you describe the women around you?
They are very smart and always fighting against unfairness.

 

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?
I love Junko Mizuno’s works. When I was a kid I read her comics and I fell in love with her dreamy art world.
I am also a big fan of Eiko Ishioka. I saw her movie poster for Apocalypse Now when I was a teenager. Her works are very powerful also delicate and I love them. I admire her costume designs too, my favorite is her works from the film Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?
Sadly Japan is still a quite sexist country and the wage difference between male and female is big and the art industry is no exception. This discrimination is considered almost natural here and I am very angry about it. Female artists here must unite more.

 

When I reached the age of 20, a mentor friend who is older than me told me “The importance of female friends will now become more and more important”. As I aged, I realized it was so very true and I want to tell young women the same thing.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?
When I reached the age of 20, a mentor friend who is older than me told me “The importance of female friends will now become more and more important”. As I aged, I realized it was so very true and I want to tell young women the same thing.
Making art is fun, but it could be also tough to go forward. Sometimes you need to stop your hands and go visit your friends, to relax.
That kind of intimate time and good rest will help you get new ideas.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Utomaru

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