I’m originally from Japan and arrived in Melbourne, Australia in 2002. I studied Bachelor of Fine Art, majoring in printmaking. After graduating from uni at the end of 2007, I was completely broke so I worked in an office for 4 days a week and made works at night or on Friday – Sunday. At the end of 2009, I quit my job to become a full-time printmaker. I’m still a bit freaked out but mostly enjoying every minute!
How did you get started in printmaking?
At first I was planning to study oil painting but somehow it didn’t connect with me. Then I met the world of printmaking. I really liked how it’s all technique-based discipline and craftsmanship is very much appreciated.
Describe where you work.
I work in a little studio space at home next to kitchen. It’s probably not a good idea in terms of OH&S... I have a press borrowed from my friend/adviser Bridget Farmer while she is in Belfast. I do not have access to process room for etching etc at the moment as our Print Workshop is closed for renovation so I’m mostly doing engravings on copper and woodblock.
What's your favourite printmaking process?
I love engravings. I like to play with the idea of old and new so engraving is a perfect medium for me.
What's your creative process for any given print? (eg. sketch first? Pre-planned or free-form?)
I always do sketch first – either pencil drawing or collage. For my rabbit series, I made collage from 18-19th century illustration books and cartoons or comic books.
I’m always doodling in my sketchbooks so I often use bits and pieces of images from those doodles to create prints too.
What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
I think what I enjoy the most is the process. I love the act of engraving small lines for animal fur or dots for texture by a graver or a needle.
What's your least favorite part of the process?
Filing the edge of cooper plates! I’ve cut my fingers many times doing that. Please let me know if you have a special tip for making edges look nice and clean!
What are your inspirations (other artists, people, places, events, etc.)?
Generally I am inspired by lots of different things in everyday life. Some of those are:
- Old illustration books on science or animal study
- Museum / gallery
- Shrines and forests in Japan (Sadly I can’t do this often)
- Japanese prints, comics and cartoons
- My cat
- Movies especially Hayao Miyazaki films
- Books especially by Margaret Atwood, Mayumi Nagano, Clive Ponting’s A Green History of the World is something I’d always keep in mind
- My childhood memories
- Silent space
I appreciate Japanese prints 100 times more than before.
I used to avoid Japanese prints or Japanese art works as I felt uncomfortable people telling me the relationship between my work and Japanese art so I consciously didn’t look at them. Now it is one of the main inspirations of my work. I think it’s because I’ve become an “outsider” being in Australia for a while. That’s why I can better appreciate my own culture and arts, so it reflects on my own work too.
How do you get past creative slumps?
Read books, watch movies, going to museum and gallery, play with my cat and have a good night’s sleep with inspiring dreams.
How do you promote your work?
This is something I’m still learning how. I try to enter as many awards as possible to get more exposure. Regardless of the result, at least judges would have seen my work.
Any other comments or advice for others who want to try making hand-pulled prints?
Sign up for community print workshop to get basic skills, and the rest will just come with experience. And stay curious about medium you haven’t tried, as printmaking offers endless possibilities.
My encounter with printmaking technique few years ago is one of the best things in my life. This beautiful discipline with deep history is certainly something worth diving for!