1. What age would you say you first began creating art?
I think I must have been in 4th grade or so, 7 or 8 years old. At least that was when I realized I liked doing it. My parents were split. So I spent afternoons at my dad's cafe in Tokyo. He kept a sketch book there for me (after I'd gone through several stacks of his scratch papers) to keep myself occupied while he worked in the kitchen.
2. Did you create for the fun of it, because you simply couldn't not create art or some other reason?
It was purely for fun. I never got bored. I had a lot of time I had to sit still and quiet at the cafe until it was time when my mom would be home, which meant then I could go home. I certainly preferred drawing over having to do homework, which I didn't do much of. I would copy drawings from comic books, draw salt shakers, spoons or whatever I could find that interested me.
3. What age would you say you first began defining yourself as an artist?
That's an interesting question. I don't really know or have given it much thought. I am not sure if there ever was a moment, conscious decision or realization of defining myself as an "artist". I think the label more or less got attached to me by people who observed me always doodling and hunched forward over my paper.
After a while I think I just accepted the title because it was a large part of my character. It wasn't until much later I actually called myself an artist. I thought I was pretty good at drawing for my age at the time. People around me were very encouraging. So it was a gradual transition. Maybe it was in high school when I was forced to start thinking about future and career that I started considering art as an occupation. I don't think I was much good at doing anything else.
Oh! I was very good at learning English.
4. What are your opinions about being paid for art? Do you consider yourself a professional artist?
My opinions about being paid for making art? Well, it's a good thing. Often not generously enough not just for me but for artists in general. It takes a considerable amount of creativity and skills to create art that people are willing to pay for. I think some skills you are born with and some you earn by working at it and diligently studying. It's not something anyone can do. That's what makes art making a skilled profession. Just like plumbers or programmers, artists should be paid for services provided. I think a lot of the time art services go unpaid. Often it takes many unpaid hours of work in order to even land a gig.
I do consider myself a professional artist. Art is my profession. I am thankfully able to earn a living. I think it is a luxury to be able to do that.
5. Have you had formal training? If so, how do you feel it has helped you as an artist? How do you feel it has hindered you? If not, what are your thoughts about formal training?
Yes, I have formal training. I enjoyed every bit of it. I think I'm sort of a perpetual student. In fact, I'm taking a Zbrush class right now. It is a 3D program that allows you to virtually sculpt. I still take classes whenever I have the opportunity to broaden my skills and fields.
I like the feeling of absorbing information. I suppose having a teacher keeps me humble and absorbent. Art school exposed me to many aspects of being an artist. Creating when you aren't feeling particularly creative, meeting deadlines, and giving and receiving criticism, all those things I think made me flexible as an artist. All those things gave me a commercial niche as an artist.
I don't feel that I was hindered by taking time for education. It wasn't easy going to school and working as a waitress at night. I suppose it isn't for everyone. I can see how some artists would benefit from submerging in developing their particular style and direction early on. Everyone is different.
I think one of my strong points as an artist is having the ability to change my style depending on demand. I'm guessing that was from having spent a lot of time in art school where I didn't always get to do what I wanted. My personal art tends to lean toward what people might see as dark, I'm not sure why. I'm not a tormented soul or anything. My commercial work is more light and cute. I still retain a bit of dark hidden behind the cute though.
Formal training was good for me for what I do now. I was a type who received benefit from it. I understand anatomy. I can draw anything with or without reference. I guess it all depends on what kind of artist you want to end up becoming.
6. If you could create art with a different medium than the one you are most well-known for, what would it be?
As of now, I draw my designs on paper still. I then scan the drawing into Photoshop and add color. My commercial work is designing resin sculptures. I'm most well-known for my Furrybones. He is this baby skeleton who likes to dress up in characters and has become a popular collectible. For my personal work, I prefer to use much more traditional medium like oil paint and charcoal.
7. What inspires you? Do you have some sort of "something" you do that when you do it ideas for new projects just seem to flow? Do you ever record your ideas for future use? If so, what is your favorite way?
Everything. Most anything is inspiring to me: music, nature, facts, fictions, other artists, musicians, etc. I think the world is a very interesting place. I have ideas pop into my mind constantly, but some ideas actually stick and some either get pushed to the back burner or forgotten completely. I have far more ideas that become nothing than ideas that actually get realized.
I am always listening to something while working, mostly music and audio books. You get a lot of "huh?" if you try to talk to me when I'm working. Then you have to repeat what you said, sometimes twice, because I'm in la la land. It takes a second for me to snap out of it. I'm sure it is very annoying.
I don't really record the many baby ideas that pop up. If one sticks and crosses my mind enough times, I jump onto it and draw it. Maybe I do need to start recording all the little baby ideas. Who knows how many brilliant ideas hit me only to bounce off and roll away into the abyss. I think the brilliant ideas have a tendency to come back and hit me harder they don't stick the first time.
8. What's your favorite curse word?
Ha ha...Hmmm...I'm not sure. In person, depending on the company, I can be pretty unladylike in speech. I can't say I have a favorite. I think every situation has its own appropriate curse word. Online, I try to keep my written speech clean-ish. I use "gosh darn" and "dang" in place of alternatives. I think that's because I believe that internet is not just public but can be hyper-public. By hyper-public I mean where you have to be extra responsible about what you broadcast because realistically speaking, NOTHING is private online.
9. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
10. What's next for you? What else is possible?
What is next for me? I have several projects that are underway. I have a series of monsters called the Underbedz. I hope these monsters will earn similar success as Furrybones. Speaking of Furrybones, I've been approached with something potentially big. That will be exciting if it happens. I have other clever schemes, but that is confidential for now. You will probably enjoy interviewing me again when some of those clever schemes become successful.
Anything else you would love to share here about you, your life, your art, anything?
I recently watched one of those "This will change your life!" short self-help videos that basically illustrated that you must pursue your profession in what you love for true happiness and success to happen even if whatever that is doesn't generate immediate profitability. That if you continue to do what you love and become the best of the best at it, then fortune and happiness will follow. I think it is a great concept. It may be easier said than done, but still a great concept.
If someone would be interested in seeing, buying art you already have created and/or commissioning you for an art project; what would be your preferred way, currently, to have them contact you?
Email is best. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org Right now the sculpture design is my full-time job. Occasionally, I do take on freelance projects.
FYI: If you are an artist and would enjoy being featured in a Ten Questions article like this one, please contact Lori via email at email@example.com. Thanks.