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Postcards from Japan - Diving into Tokyo's art scene, with Ayaka Fukano

Tokyo-based artist, Ayaka Fukano

Ayaka’s art journey didn’t have the most conventional start – an impromptu request to design a restaurant sign! But curiosity told her to ‘just go with it’, and she’s been hooked to the creative process and capturing those joyfully serendipitous moments since. We have a chat to Ayaka about where she draws her creative spark, her process from idea to paper, and her top Tokyo recommendations. 

Hi Ayaka, thanks for joining us today. To start, please tell us a bit about yourself and the work you do!
I am a Tokyo based artist. It’s been 8 years since I started my career as an Artist in 2015. I convey small moments of happiness and love that we tend to overlook in our daily lives through my illustrations and writings.

'HOWOODY!' 2021 Exhibition at CPK Gallery, Tokyo

How did you get into art and what are some of your main influences?
It is a long story, but many strange connections exist in the events that led me to become an artist. To begin with, being an artist was never in my childhood dreams, nor did I ever consider myself good at painting.

'WHAT A DREAM' Exhibition 2022 at Tokyo Tower

But long after I had grown up, an unusually stylish restaurant opened in my neighborhood, and one day, the owner suddenly said to me, "Write a restaurant sign for us."
At first, I was perplexed and refused, but he then said, "Don't worry, you’ll definitely can do it.”
At the time, of course, I was not a painter, nor was I good at it. But for some reason, I decided to give it a try, and during this work, I realized that I really like this process. Yes, for the first time in my life!  That's how my art journey started. See? I told you it was gonna be so long story (*laughs*)

A bronze statue of a girl wearing a cloth mask during the COVID-19 pandemic and Tokyo 2020 Olympics

What does the creative process look like to you? How do you go about turning a brief/idea into a complete illustration?
I always start with something that comes into my mind and either write it down in words or draw the images with a pen on paper. From there, I draw it over and over again until I am satisfied with the shapes, then I either scan it in and colour it on the computer, or colour them with a pen or a cutting sheet. 
For larger illustrations, I use acrylic paint on canvas. Even though the world is becoming more and more convenient with technology, I often rely on physical memory of the touch and feel and like using the strength of my hands, so it is difficult for me to shift every process from traditional to digital.

A smiley face in ice-cream, created by Ayaka's son

What are your favourite things to draw?
Positive images of daily scenes that make you feel love and smile.
What is the proudest moment of your art journey so far?
Any moment when we can connect with people without boundaries, when we can help someone smile one day in their life, and when we can share our love like this.

The view of Tokyo Tower lit up at night from below

You are currently based in Tokyo, is that correct? Do you have any cafe or restaurant recommendations?
​​Yes, I am based in Tokyo. There are so many great restaurants in Tokyo. The restaurant that inspired me to start my art business is now called Belts Mita and serves delicious food. You can find them in the Minato ward of Tokyo 

Ayaka's Solo Exhibition, 'ALLES KLAR!' at TRUNK (HOTEL), Shibuya, in 2021

Where in Tokyo would you recommend to people who want to discover and see more indie and local artists?
There are many galleries in Tokyo, each with its own unique characteristics, so it may be a good idea to find your favourite gallery and visit it. Nowadays, some cafes and bookstores have exhibition spaces, so there are more possibilities to encounter art everywhere in the city. You can always find something exciting at TSUTAYA BOOKS in Daikanyama and Ginza SIX.
What’s next for you?
I will be exhibiting my illustrations and rugs at TRUNK (HOTEL) in Shibuya on June 9, 10, and 11! All rugs are one-of-a-kind and made with rug maker, so please come and visit us!

The window display of a plant shop in Shibuya, Tokyo

Thank you for talking with us!

Be sure to check out Ayaka's charming work over on her Instagram!

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