An Interview with Japanese Artist Emiko Kouji

Tell me a little about yourself – when did you become an artist, and how has art had an impact on your life?

I became an artist when I was 14. I was the mangaka and editor for my school’s magazine club. The manga I contributed was about the life of students there. After graduation, I decided to continue the story and follow up the lives of students after high school.  That is how my Ai Ribbon series started.

What made you want to do a self-portrait? I think your quality of work is astounding, and the self-portrait has a romanticism feel to it.

I am a big fan of history. I love to read about the histories of Europe and regularly find portraits of historical figures. Throughout the centuries, artists projected their own images in artworks. So I too wanted to have at least one self-portrait. I did a thorough research on how a certain pose, finger arrangements and tilting of the chin has its own meanings. With enough information, I created an image of myself reflecting my true personality.

What is a major achievement you have made in your time as being an artist? What do you wish to accomplish as life goes on?

I think the major achievements I have made is to be noticed globally by serious art collectors, producers and directors. Last year, I caught the attention of an art director from Switzerland. She appreciated my works so much that she offered me a job there.

Who do you look up to in terms of inspiration? Do you also listen to certain type of music when you draw? I have interviewed many artists, and many claim they listen to music to help inspire them. I believe music shows personality of the artist, what are your thoughts about that?

In terms of inspiration, I greatly admire my art teacher Momoko Miyahara. She taught me how to give life and dimension into illustrating scenery. I don’t really listen to music or songs when I’m drawing. My emotions are easily manipulated by music, often it sways me from the initial mood I set for the illustration. Instead I would listen to podcasts or talk shows. My teacher and I often chat in the art room. She would constantly comment on my artwork as I created them. Therefore, I recreate the atmosphere of the art class by listening to lively conversations among people. It is also less lonely and boring this way.

What are your favorite tools to use in drawing (tablet type, etc.), and what methods would you like to experiment?

My favorite hardware is my old Wacom Bamboo Graphic tablet. I have been using it for 5 years. As I often travel, it is easy to stash in my bag. I plan to get a Cintiq later when I won’t be moving around so much. My most focused practice now is the impressionism method. At times I find it surprising when illustrations can give off different vibes from unique color selections. Currently I’m experimenting colors with low saturation to extend the theme of tranquility.

I have been following your art for a long time. As well, I have commissioned you once before. I feel you have qualities of artistic emotional value displayed in your work much different from any other artist I have worked with. Your art has impact and encourages creativity in others. What words would you have for aspiring artists who look up to your work?

Explore your unique potentials. There was once when I was strictly controlled by an idea. I was told on what to do, which colors to use. Imitating other mass-produced styles just to increase profit. This routine resulted in my artwork becoming monotonous and dull.  Illustrating background and scenery had always been my great interest. When I finally displayed this ability to the public, people began to value the singular feature of it. I am told that only I can deliver the unique ideas of their art project so perfectly.

Meet Emiko online, or check out more of her amazing work on DeviantArt

Interviewed by Adam Lewis LaValley

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