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Check Out Hikaru Siebuhr’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hikaru Siebuhr.

Hi Hikaru, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I was born in Japan but grew up in California, Chicago, and Hawai’i. My family moved around due to my dad’s job and I’m very grateful for all of the exposure to different communities and cultures. It helped me see the world as a bigger place, full of possibilities. As a child, similar to many other artists, I liked to make physical things with my hands.

It was like an itch that could only be fixed by creating something. I think my mom still has the wonky paper cut-outs of the penguin family from the show, Pingu, that I made. She enrolled me in many art courses when I was younger and encouraged me to develop my skills, something I will always be thankful for. I fondly remember going to the Menomonee Club and the Marwen Foundation in Chicago and the nurturing environment that fueled my creativity and passion.

Even though I loved making and drawing things when I was younger, I started to pursue the sciences in my freshman year of high school because I thought it was something realistic and reasonable. My goal at the time was to become a marine biologist as I love the ocean and all of the life that resides in it. When my family and I moved to Hawai’i I thought that it was the perfect opportunity. As I was choosing my classes for my sophomore year, I met the art teacher at my high school, Archer Kelly, and she graciously allowed me to take her advanced art class. I fell in love with art all over again and spent the next couple of years developing my skills. It was also Archer that told me about ArtCenter. I became fascinated with the prospect of attending a college specifically for the visual arts so I focused on my art. Now I am at the school itself! I am currently studying Illustration, Design, and more at ArtCenter and hope to graduate soon.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
While I have been extremely fortunate to have received support from a variety of people, the road hasn’t been easy. I don’t think the road to a creative career has been easy for anyone. There have been multiple points where I was very unhappy but I still persevered because the idea of doing what I love as my career was too precious to give up. From balancing the experiences in life and kindling my drive, I kept on going and I’m still going. The world is constantly shifting and we are all continuously growing so I am nervously excited about the future and what it holds.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Often described as whimsical, my work takes inspiration from dreams and emotions. There’s an unhinged, raw quality to those subjects that is fun to draw and is a vital part of my being. Making work that is genuine is also very important to me so a lot of it comes from a personal place. I like to keep a visual dream journal and record all of the themes and images I can remember for inspiration. However, I am open to exploring new possibilities and am well rounded because of this. I love trying out new ideas, exploring new approaches, and drawing new subjects. I’ve been told that people have to look at my work more than once because there’s always something new awaiting them. One friend in particular used the term “hidden horror” to describe my art.

While my work has a cheerful exterior with bright colors and soft characters, there’s also a sense of tragedy and horror the longer you look. I’m proud of the complexity my work holds. I work in both traditional and digital, sometimes combining the two as collage. I recently got an iPad and have been having lots of fun with Procreate! However, I do enjoy a good traditional painting session. I plan on incorporating more multi-media collage in my work in the future to bring what I like about traditional and digital work together. It excites me knowing I have the power to visually convey a variety of feelings through unspoken mediums. The fact that I can connect to people this way and maybe even hear how my art makes others feel is exhilarating. Making art can sometimes be a lonely process and sharing that connection means a lot to me.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
Archer Kelly, who encouraged my voice within my work. Without her, I wouldn’t have dreamed of a career in the arts. Another mentor who was a big advocator of my art was George Drury, one of my middle school teachers. He would let me doodle during class and even showcased my work in the school hallways once. George knew that my love for art would hold greater things for me and encouraged me to continue drawing, no matter what. Of course, there are my family and friends. My family’s nurturing of my artistic skills go back to the beginning. My mom would give my sisters and I art supplies and my creativity was constantly fueled by the experiences and media I was exposed to. When I expressed further interest in art, my parents wasted no time in signing me up for activities and classes for young artists. It was also my parents who taught me to appreciate the subtleties in life, something I believe is important to my creative process. My friends are one of my biggest sources of inspiration as their own work (art and non art-related) conveys voices that are different from my own. I am always amazed of the bond we share, I feel lucky to have met such a great group of people. I am truly fortunate to have a wonderful support group.

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