vol. 10 ChocomooIllustrator
The tenth guest on OWNDAYS MEETS is Chocomoo, an illustrator known around the world for her pop-art and unique black-and-white illustrations. Having collaborated with apparel brands and captivated the imagination of a range of artists, Chocomoo tells us about the path she has taken so far as well as what the road ahead has in store for her.
Chocomoo is an illustrator based in Kyoto and is known for her unique pop-art that she creates entirely in black-and-white.
Working in a wide range of fields, she has been involved in collaborations with Japanese as well as overseas apparel brands including JOYRICH, H&M, and HELLZ BELLZ, and has held numerous art shows.
She has also provided artworks for the Japanese pop artists AI and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, and has recently launched a line of emoticons for the LINE chat app. With her varied work, she receives much attention from magazines and overseas media.
How did you become an illustrator?
I went to New York because I’ve always liked music and I wanted to experience real hip-hop and R&B, and while I was there I did lots of illustrations just for my own pleasure. I really didn’t think that I wanted to make a living out of illustration, and to be honest I still don’t really feel that I want to make it my sole focus!
But when I was doing illustrations in New York I just happened to get the offer to do an exhibition, and that’s what provided the spur for me to start taking it seriously. After that I got really involved in illustration and gradually started to get more and more offers, and that’s how I ended up where I am now.
Fortunately, my current job involves doing something I really love, and I just hope that I can carry on in my own style.
So you really like drawing pictures!
For me, illustration is a way of life - it’s just like breathing. I’m not really aware of the fact that I’m doing it as work, and when I want to refresh myself or relax I grab a pen and just start drawing. I do drawings just for myself when I’m travelling by plane or train; it really is just something I do in my everyday life. to make it my sole focus!
You can draw regardless of whether you’re at home or abroad, and I want to keep doing it until I’m an old woman!
How did you end up having your own unique style of illustration?
I taught myself to draw and I’ve loved doing it ever since I was a kid. I started to learn calligraphy when I was at elementary school, and that’s where I started to do pop-art illustrations using ink. As far as I remember that’s how my black-and-white style started.
Recently I’ve been doing lots of work in the “Harajuku kawaii” style, there are people who think that I am a “Harajuku girl” overseas, but that’s not originally where I am from - my roots are in hip-hop street culture and Japanese style.
Which element of your work reflects “Japanese style”?
I’m based in Kyoto and I’ve liked Japanese traditions and styles for a long time, so having been influenced by the temples of Kyoto and the pop-art of overseas I wanted to do illustrations that integrate and combine these styles.
You wouldn’t think that I actually love temples from the way I like. Whenever my friends from east Japan or overseas come to Kyoto, I always recommend a temple called “Sanjusangendo” in which you can find 1000 statues of the thousand-armed Goddess of Mercy. It’s really amazing.
You also did a live performance today, right?
Yes, and today I felt like incorporating the design of glasses into my drawing and creating something interesting. I was thinking of ideas for it while I was on the bullet train here!
Live painting is exciting because people watch me as I work, and in contrast to when I’m shut away in the studio, the finished product depends on the day so I myself also find it really exciting.
I try to do illustrations that stick in people’s memory, or that make them smile and comment on how “kawaii” they are, not just at live events but in all my work. But most of the time I just concentrate on drawing without thinking too much!
Do you have any challenges you want to take on or dreams for the future?
My dream, or the thing that I want to do at the moment, is to hold my own exhibition in a country that I’ve never been to. I’ve held exhibitions in New York, Korea, and Taiwan, but I’d love to have the chance to show people my work in places I’ve never even been on holiday like London or a country in Asia like Indonesia.
Also, collaborations with photographers interest me. In the past a photographer who has photographed a range of artists over the years contacted me and I ended up painting on top of some of the photos, which were then exhibited in Florida. Naturally it’s the photographer’s work, but when it’s finished it takes on the characteristics of the artist as well as my style, so it ends up with a different kind of appeal, and that’s why I’d like to do a range of projects with photographers.Interview : August 2014
I’ve never seen this type of design before and think these glasses look really cute from the side. The colour looks different from the front and the side, and I think a lot of consideration went into creating them. What’s more, they never get in the way of work no matter how long I wear them. By the way, the glasses that I wear at home are just normal, simple black framed glasses, but when I go out I like to wear really flamboyant ones! The sunglasses I had on today also looked great from the side, and I really liked the colour.