portrait 004 : Yoko : blue and grey, layer of the lake




< to live, to breathe >


I started my career as an illustrator, and continued for about 15 years, working on the client works.

Now I mainly work as an collage artist,  5 years so far.


I studied oil painting at the university, so I did not learn illustrations or designs.  I realized I was not good at doing works only to meet the clients’ orders.  It is not about technique or experiences.  It’s just, not for me.


Now I create my own works, do shows, publish books under my name, and enjoy doing client works too.  It is much easier for me to breathe now.



< Field recording >


I like taking pictures of walls, wherever I go, and it gives me a lot of inspirations for my collage works.


In Japan, people peel off the paints thoroughly before repainting,  but in most of the other countries, they usually paint the walls with new color over the old one, like making layers.    I can get a glimpse of its history, and it is often like a piece of art.



< labyrinth >


I like wondering around, walking through small streets, particularly the back-alleys.

Even it has got a grand front door, I am curious to see how the back side looks.  That is what I am interested in the human nature, too.


Everyone has two different sides, like black and red, and both sides should be recognized as part of that person.   You may want to show the red side, or the black side, or both.  It is totally up to you.  I don’t want to be judgmental.



< Creating a collage >


Collage work is putting bits and pieces on a piece of paper.  It’s a balance between the materials I put on it and the blank spaces to leave, and also that between my work and the space where it is placed.


I have the image in mind what I want to achieve from the beginning, but this is a sort of improvisatorial and visual work.  It is not like upwelling from the inside of me.

It’s just completed by itself.



< Emotion balls >


Emotion is like balls I have in mind.  They always stay inside of me, and sometimes I take one of them out and throw it at the other person, but it is not my real self.

So my works are not my own selves, even though they are reflections of myself.


My works, my thoughts, my emotions and what I speak are my identity, but I do not know where myself exists.



< My role, and my self >


In the school, my teacher asked me “Tell me, what do you really want to draw ?”

It was really hard to answer.


I do enjoy making my works, but when thinking about it further, I cannot find what I really want to draw, or create.   It is probably because, what I make is very close to what I really want to.


I simply create works to fit in the space to place them.

I think that is my role, and this is my job.




< color of me>


Maybe grey for now ?   But I want to be blue-grey.  That is the color of the lake in the memories of my childhood.  It’s dark and clear in the wintertime.  I rely on this color often in my works.


I change everyday, and I do not know what remains unchanged.   But this color, blue-grey, always stays in me.



< Question from another artist : portrait 003 Eriko >


How do you maintain motivation for your creation ?  


Just do what I enjoy, and do not limit or restrict myself.


Motivation is like yin and yang, sometimes high, sometimes low.  But when it’s low and hard to output anything, it is mainly because I have nothing inside to output, or just being hungry, or feeling unwell, or maybe I am just limiting myself taking the other people’s advices too much.  Highs and lows repeats, and it is not bad at all when the lows come.  Just take it simple.




< Question to the future contributors >


Do you find your actual self in your creation ?




About Yoko :


In her works, I see the layers of colors, and the lights.  They sometimes look like the old letters kept in the drawer for a long time.  They are simply beautiful and quiet, and purely clear, like the winter lake always in her mind.


Interview with Yoko Inoue, artist


Photographer : Masa Hamanoi


May 2021 at studio gris, Tokyo