I was born and raised in a suburb of Yokohama. After I started to live by myself, I lived in several places in Tokyo, and now I share an apartment in Nishisugamo where I have desk space at what I call “my atelier.” I am an illustrator and an artist. I will explain the “artist” part later.
When I said I am an illustrator, did you think I’m just free-spirited? Actually, I worked for companies most of my career, so we have a lot in common. I worked as a graphic designer for an apparel company and as a bag designer for a trading company. I changed jobs within fashion industries, and I was a full-time employee for a total of 10 plus years.
They were busy days with an endless cycle of four seasons and trends to keep up with and product quality to pay attention to. I was pretty beaten up just keeping up with the schedule. In part, it was fun to get beaten up because I was with colleagues who shared the same passion for fashion; reading fashion magazines was part of the job as was traveling overseas to visit factories and markets. It was very fulfilling teamwork but, eventually, I found myself hiding in business and excitement.
At some point, belonging to a company wasn’t a career choice, I was just clinging to the employment. I was scared of failing, but it was more like I didn’t want others to see me as a failure. I was overwhelmed by the perception that others had of me. I didn’t allow myself to trust my own compass for the longest time, but eventually, I got tired of being scared, so I had to hire a coach to quit my job.
So, it wasn’t like I had a grand vision to be an illustrator nor meticulously prepared to become one. It was more like when I peeled off the layers to see what I could do, the illustration was what was left. When I look back, as a kid I loved scribbling on papers, walls, anywhere. As a student, my choice of school clubs was always an art club. I chose a high school that specialized in art and music. Then I studied abroad and learned more studio arts. I always loved drawing, but I put a curse on myself that it could not be my career. My scared mindset was difficult to let go of, so I struggled with my transition, but I’m glad that I made the jump, even though it wasn’t pretty.
It was a major shift but I didn’t become immortal after that, and life continues to give me challenges. I was also scared to join Toastmasters. I put it off all of 2018, and it took me a year to do this ice-breaker speech. Here I am making another step forward and giving a speech today. This time, I’m enjoying the challenge because of the warm support from you. I love horror movies, so my friends think I’m fearless, but actually, I feel like I get scared at each step.
The main reason I joined Toastmasters is I wanted to talk about the importance of art in my own words. I believe things run well when logic and art are a pair of wheels. And I stand on the art side. I find myself in multiple discussions when design and aesthetic aspects are jeopardized by time, price, and convenience. Back then, and still now, my mind isn’t clear enough, nor convincing enough, to stand on my own point. Many times I couldn’t speak up on past occasions, and I deeply regret it, so I want to give myself time for my thoughts to develop and speak up on the next occasion.
The other reason is I want to talk about my illustrations in the process of creating works. I feel I need to put my thoughts into words to clarify and organize before actually moving my hands. I do commission work, but I have ideas for personal projects. This motivation wants to call myself an artist. My urges are strong but my mind is not so clear to what to draw. Even to me, this sounds very abstract at this point, but I hope sharing my findings and insights on the process of creating will benefit your inspiration. I believe drawing, designing, and putting a concept into form are only part technique and not reserved for creative professionals. For the most part, pay attention to the true message and craft for a smooth delivery to the audience who is us, humans. The powerful images shed light on the beauty of human nature, and its aesthetic aspects are aligned with it.
I joined Toastmasters with a passion to talk about creative subjects in my own words and to contribute to a constructive discussion about the value of art. Also, I like to meet people who enjoy challenges and who strive for the life they desire.
I hope my speech will open up a conversation with each of you, and I’m looking forward to having a conversation. I welcome any questions regarding my speech (or not) and mostly welcome feedback.
※THis is a rewrite of my icebreaker speech. You can see my practice speech here.