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Life and Work with Shoko Yanagisawa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shoko Yanagisawa.

Shoko, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up in the countryside of Japan. Since when I was little, I loved to express my thoughts and imagination through music, drawing, and painting. I was always driven to express my feelings, my imagination, and my sense of self.

When I was 14 years old, I did a homestay in Australia and was inspired by the beautiful architecture and local pop culture. After graduate high school, I started to travel all over the world to see the world and to broaden my horizons. And my passion for art increased. I had not yet seriously studied art but was drawing and painting for the sheer joy of it.

I taught myself graphic design and became proficient in software like Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, etc. At the same time, I kept drawing just for my own pleasure.

I traveled to India where I studied yoga and found myself inspired by its spiritual concepts of the third eye, and the flower of life, as well as the local color, patterns, and art I discovered there.

The biggest change in my life was moving to Spain. I wanted to study art seriously to have more flexible expressions. So, I moved to live in Barcelona, Spain to learn drawing, painting, and graffiti.

Then, I came back to LA 2015 to pursue my dream as an artist.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
it doesn’t start smoothly at the beginning, but you slowly start smoothing your path and figuring out the way. especially when you try to make your dream come true in a country that isn’t yours.

Right now, I’m working as an Art director in creative company which is one of my dreams.

I always wanted to work in creative company where I can grow my career and skills. But it wasn’t easy.
I remember myself when I moved to LA the first time in 2013 was so hard. I couldn’t get any job. I was working as a freelance graphic designer but I had bad experiences. I got tired to live in LA then I left.

But three years later, I thought I should try LA again if I wanna make money and grow as an artist.

So, this time is my second time. When I came back to LA from Spain, it was so hard. I didn’t have any money.
I’ve been traveling to get many experiences, broaden my perspective. I was trying to work hard to have a better future, but I started from Zero in LA.

Even I wanted to buy a car, I couldn’t afford to buy a car. I was riding a bicycle to go to work every day in the winter and got sick often. one time I couldn’t buy food and couldn’t eat for two days, just being on the bed and crying all day because I was so embarrassed I couldn’t make enough money to buy food even I am 30, I’ve never had this in my life. That’s why I couldn’t even tell my family. I felt this time finally I should solve by myself.

Anyways I have so many stories like this. Even though I didn’t give up. I believed eventually it will be ok And I don’t wanna give up. My life isn’t stable at all. But since I started work in this company, I have such a stable life finally anyways what I wanted to say is I’m 34 now and will be 35 soon I didn’t give up on my dream yet. When you try to get what you want, it will take time sometimes, but don’t lose your hope and don’t give up if you really want it. Eventually, you will make it even if the process takes time. Just believe in yourself, don’t listen to the negative voices. I’m still alive and finally living with one of my dreams. I have a few more other dreams I’m working on now. life is full of hope, possibility, and miracle!!

Please tell us more about your artwork, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
Most of my works are a portrait of women which is expressing the strength and beauty of women who is drawn by pencil with a sensitive line that express the sensitiveness of women. Same time, most of the women face expression is difficult to read but somehow you feel some feeling from her deeply.

Another reason is that I express with drawing about feminine parts of myself that I cannot express by myself.
When I was a little girl, I was like a boy, there is a resistance to being “woman”. However, when I’m getting older, I start to feel I want to be more feminine, want to be a sexy woman, I want to enjoy being a woman. I still cannot express myself with my looks. But I can express myself who I want to express. I’m expressing my sexy with drawing who is healthy, elegant and natural.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve benefited from using?
Pinterest helps me a lot, gives me many inspirations. And I like Curate LA app which tells me upcoming art shows in LA.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
top photo: Mark Allen

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