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Meet Yumiko Fujiwara

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yumiko Fujiwara.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Sure! I am a screenwriter and visual artist working with photography, sound and video mediums. My father is a journalist, and so I grew up all over the globe in cities like Guadalajara, Mexico, Johannesburg, South Africa, Rome, Italy, and my place of birth, Tokyo, Japan. I am what you would call a “third-culture kid,” and though this comes with a lot of baggage, I feel incredibly privileged for the experiences and perspectives it’s brought me.
Because of the consistently “foreign” and undefined nature of my cultural identity, I was very, very shy when I was a kid and had trouble fitting in. Instead of playing with other kids, I spent all my time reading books. As a result, I was avid about telling stories and wanted to be a novelist.
Sometime in my early teens, I decided that I would be a filmmaker. This is around the time I started to take photographs, and along the way, I picked up a camcorder and started making short, weird little films.
I moved to the US to attend a liberal arts college in upstate New York, where my studies were a well integrated mix of filmmaking, visual arts, psychology and world literature. Then, drawn by the film industry and sunny weather, I moved to Los Angeles, CA in 2015. A year later, I was accepted into the AFI Conservatory’s two-year Screenwriting program and graduated in 2018. Since then, while waiting for my permanent residency visa, I’ve been working freelance as a writer and on my own creative projects.

Please tell us about your art.
As a screenwriter, I write character-driven psychological dramas that explore topics of identity and relationships. I’m very interested in how one’s identity is affected by the surrounding world (and vice versa). So in my stories, I find myself leaning towards characters who are somewhat unmoored – socially, psychologically or spiritually. They are usually quite lonely as a result, and are bravely and blindly searching for a way to connect with the world and redefine their identity. I like to tell these kinds of journeys, and to see how each character grows and changes through them.
A lot of us are conditioned to fear or disconnect from our genuine feelings, and as a result, our world can be an isolating and harsh place. By giving special care to make my characters psychologically realistic, flawed, and authentic, I’m hoping to create space for people to feel safe to be themselves. I hope people can take away that they are not alone, that they are part of a larger picture that would not be complete without them.

Lately, I’ve been really into magical realism in my writing. I’ve been looking at old folktales and myths, and exploring how those strange worlds imagined long ago can be repurposed in our contemporary reality.

Through my photography and video/sound art, I’ve basically been playing and exploring with the mediums for several years now. There’s less control and structure here than with narrative screenwriting – and the funnest part is that there’s always, always something new to learn. I’m always being surprised by them. But the themes I’m exploring and the end goal are the same, in that I’m exploring topics of identity and how it relates to the world around it.

We often hear from artists that being an artist can be lonely. Any advice for those looking to connect with other artists?
I think that it’s most important to truly value and understand yourself if you want others to. Then, it becomes so much more natural to share yourself and your work other artists, and grow friendships and connections from there. I’ve been away in Tokyo for a while to work on my projects and self-reflect. This gave me time to really miss my friends and understand their value to me. Now I can’t wait to see them when I get back!

One of my favourite things about Los Angeles is that there are so many resources and groups with communities cultivating safe and supportive spaces for artists to connect and grow. These are usually easy to find online and are super accessible. They’re a great way to put yourself out there and support other artists.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I am relatively active on Instagram. If I have work showing or a screening for a film, I will usually post about it on my stories. And though it’s down at the moment, I sometimes update my website (www.yumikofujiwara.com). I’m currently working on a video/sound installation that I’ll hopefully be able to show in early 2020.

I would love if people reached out to me on Instagram! I’m always looking to meet new friends (and shoot portraits if they’re open to that.)

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Kylie Shaffer

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