Meet illustrator from Tokyo, Saki Matsumoto.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I studied animal science then shifted to graphic design in Kuwasawa Design School
in Tokyo. After graduating, I worked as a graphic and book designer. During work, I got opportunities to put my work in projects that led me to my interest in illustration so I decided to study again abroad. However, I still liked graphic design and wanted to combine art direction and illustration. I was in London for a while then moved to Prague to study illustration and graphic MA in UMPRUM
. Life in the Czech Republic might’ve changed my taste, especially in color. The
theme of my illustrations is the supernatural environment sand animism which is connected to monsters, nature, spirits, darkness etc. The techniques I use are printmaking (now Risograph and Screen printing) and mixed media.
Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.
Tokyo is, as many people know, busy and always changing, which is nice and vice versa. People follow trends and easily get tired of them because of too much information and happenings. You can enjoy this speed but you should also think about what you want and what is important for you. The way we communicate and socialize has been changing and getting similar to the ways internationally.
What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?
The best is food and worst is population density.
I appreciate how the Japanese keep trying to increase the quality of food. We offer good meals at reasonable prices (for lunch) and develop foreign cuisine to sometimes a better level than the original.
Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.
How to survive?
How did you start your career in art?
Firstly I learned about the job “illustrator” in the school. My teacher introduced us to many alternative and foreign illustrators especially those who are working with children’s books. Publication is quite open with illustration so when I started working on this several times, I thought I can put my own personal style to it. I studied illustration in Prague and started to work with printmaking and shifted to more artistic illustrations.
Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?
Yes, my friends often introduce me to potential clients and my parents come to my exhibitions.
What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?
Working for cultural things and society.
I would like to work more with poster and purely graphic design with illustration.
I think about expanding the field of illustrator’s work. Illustrators usually join a part of a project and look for opportunities mainly in books and magazines. However, If we illustrators can organize something that affects social and cultural matters then that would be powerful, which is my dream.
Illustrators are different from artists and directors but the ways of working and the number of occurring projects have been changing so I hope it continues to grow.
If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?
I don’t know, maybe Kenji Miyazawa, Shin Matsunaga, and Hayao Miyazaki.
How would you describe the women around you?
Hard workers. Japanese women make trends and culture.
Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?
I actually do not really think if a work/art is by a female or male. When I was a student in design school I loved works from Nagi Noda and Yoshie Watanabe from Draft company,
Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?
I think it’s even more convenient for women to be an illustrator. If you have enough popularity, you can work from home and take care of the house and children and use your own time. This is not possible for office workers.
Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?
You have to believe in yourself and always be aggressive and positive. Do not just work but meet people and see whatever you like and something popular and beautiful.
Consider why you paint, draw what you want to express.
Photos courtesy of Saki Matsumoto.