Illustrator Feature: Yas Imamura

For the month of October, we are interviewing the talented Yas Imamura of Quill & Fox, who is creating our Book Club poster for the month. Chances are you have seen her work before (and yes! She was one of our featured artist’s last year too!). It’s colorful, fresh, quirky, and we’re huge fans! In the interview, we talk all about the pros and cons of social media, how to overcome creative roadblocks and benefits of rest! Hope you enjoy and be sure to take a look at Yas’ amazing work and beautiful products!

Let’s dive into the Interview!

Illustrator Feature: Yas Imamura

  1. Did you always know you wanted to be an illustrator? How did you get your start?

Growing up, I didn’t think it was a really specific job people did but I always drew as a kid. I remember visiting my grandparents’ hometown when I was 9 and immediately looking for where they keep their stack of writing paper. My grandpa used to write short stories on his typewriter and I particularly loved the off-white thin paper he uses. A stack of that plus a pencil and my day is set!

2. How does your upbringing influence your creations? Where do you turn for inspiration?

I didn’t realize this at first, but I suppose I infuse a bit of my sense of humor when I can. I’m also a bit of an escapist, growing up, so a lot of things I create tend to be very idealized with generally whimsical themes. I’m inspired by many things. I gravitate towards illustrations that are also well designed, even styles completely different from my own. I just find something to learn from them in terms of balance, colors, level of attention to details. I’m constantly inspired by artists who give so much of themselves in their craft.

3. Aside from illustration what other mediums, hobbies, or activities do you enjoy?

I love TV shows and home-cooking as a destresser after a whole day of working. TV and dinner make for a great combo activity too! I also like to write sometimes. I have quite a few other hobbies like creating small scale things with balsa wood or messing around with polymer clay but I haven’t done those in more than a year now. Writing is a creative pursuit that I can do from time to time even curled up in bed.

4. Your paper company Quill & Fox is an absolute delight! How did you start your company?

Thank you! I started doing custom designs for clients before and it just sort of morphed from there.

5. How much value do you place on attending art or design school?

Education is always important but costs of tuition and student loans has made me rethink how much we value formal education versus the training and education we can acquire ourselves by engaging with our own art community, the resources freely available, practical work and our own craft at home. There are things I find valuable from art school–like learning to critique, accept critique etc, but these are things you can also easily learn in a studio or work setting.

6. Social media gives people a much larger platform to display their work. What are the pros and cons of being so visible?

The benefits of exposure will always outweigh the bad, for artists who know how to use it effectively and responsibly. I’ve gotten to know other artists and good friends that way. You can get a lot of opportunities if you capitalize on instagram, for example, as an online portfolio of your work. Twitter is a different beast, but it’s a good place to exhibit less curated material, work in progress images, half-baked thoughts! The downside of instagram isn’t necessarily the same for twitter. I can only think more starkly about how twitter can be toxic to some people and encourage toxic behavior. Instagram has that too, but it also offers a different kind of pitfall in the form of constant comparison to the supposed perfect lives other people are living. It’s not different for artists; we constantly combat feelings of inadequacy seeing other artists’ feed, their opportunities or just their general productivity. We get tied to how much engagement a certain artwork receives and we nitpick the why’s.

7. You’ve worked with some very large companies such as Anthropologie and Sanrio, what advice do you have for those who hope to work with similar clients? How were you discovered?

Just through social media for most of them! My advice is to always put work out there that you truly enjoy doing versus creating work to attract a particular set of clients. You’d be surprised how tricky it is to telegraph what a company likes (especially ones who are also looking for something innovative and different than their previous projects)  that you risk your art being not only redundant but also disingenuous. Eventually, you will attract the kind of clients you really enjoy working with because they took interest in a work that represents your creative voice.

8. Have you had any major setbacks on the road to where you are now and how did you overcome them?

Sometimes product designs don’t really take off as successfully as I thought it would. Always test it out in small scale first!

9. When you’re in a creative funk, what helps you overcome the roadblocks?

Sleeping, resting and just doing something completely relaxing but also making sure I capitalize on that rest and get back right to it. I’m always inspired, so inspiration rarely is my problem. It’s that crippling feeling of being unable to execute or feeling like I’m not good enough to, that sets me back for as long as weeks to months. The encouraging thing is that I’ve proven time and time again that it’s a cycle, and I’ve been trying to better at making those cycles shorter and shorter.

Thank you Yas! You can find her over on Instagram or at her shop, Quill and Fox


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