“actually, i have colourful personality”

colour pencils on paper, 11 x 14″, 2011.

drawn at the kitchen table while koyuki kept coming back to me with a piece of mini orange to peel it for her even though she didn’t eat it.  i guess she just wanted to see inside or see me peel it.  that’s okay with me.  her curiosity inspires me.

this drawings will be for sale at Winter Wonder Handmade Market (flock and gather event) next weekend.  if you’re around in saskatoon, come check it out.  there will be tons of talented artists and crafters, who will be selling amazing works.

japan tsunami relief fundraiser

the saskatoon japanese association would like to announce that we will be fundraising for japan tsunami relief at the saskatoon farmer’s market on saturday march 26th and saturday april 9th.

100% of all donations will go to the japanese red cross. everyone making a donation will be given a small Japanese gift as a sign of our appreciation.

our fundraising booth will be open from 8am to 2pm, march 26th and april 9th, at the farmer’s market, 414 Avenue B south, in saskatoon.  we’ll be giving away japanese gifts such as paper crane, calligraphy and book marks etc.  i’ll be there most of the day.

i designed this poster for this cause in hopes that people will rebuild their lives and dreams with help from society and rise again.  i’d like to thank proprint for kindly printing the posters and the flyers for no charge.

hope to see you tomorrow.

computer arts project magazine interview

i was interviewed by charlotte river from a british magazine called computer arts project.  she interviewed six international artists including myself.  she sent me many questions via email.  she edited it for her article.  i’m happy about my drawings that she chose to show.

i think you can still buy this issue at bookstores.

flock and gather local art and craft sale

i’m taking part in the local art and craft show titled, flock and gather.  it takes place this saturday in saskatoon.  there will be awesome local artists showing and selling their works.  the lineups are::

cathy terepocki, carole epp, waden sweet,  amy smith, uncle mike, shannon welch, shauna buck, erin jarrett weiss

come and see us at ::

Valentine’s Handmade Market

1932 St George avenue, Saskatoon

February 12th Saturday 10am ~ 5pm

fujiyama girls at mondo bizzarro gallery

i’m showing 7 drawings at mondo bizzarro gallery in rome, italy with junko mizuno and makiko sugawa.  it started in december and ends on janurary 23.  the title of the show is ‘fujiyama girls/new sexy art from japan’.  i’m not sure if my drawings are sexy, but that’s okay.

if you’re around in rome this month, please stop by at the gallery.

it is one of my dreams to go visit rome.  my drawings went ahead to make that dream come true.  all i have to do now is to bring my body there in the near future.

group show at thinkspace art gallery


i’m showing my drawings with lilly piri and fumi nakamura in the project room at thinkspace gallery in los angeles.  i’m very happy to be able to show with them.  we all use color pencils.  the opening is  tonight (7 – 11pm).  the show runs from september 11th to october 2nd.  if you’re around in LA, please drop by and check out the show!

thinkspace art gallery

4210 santa monica blvd,

los angeles, ca

thursday – sunday (1 – 6pm) or by appointment

petit book :: spencer, the ennui dog

i’ve made a pocket version of my amigurumi storybook, ‘the boring life of spencer, the ennui dog’.  it’s a children’s story for adults, with love, adventure, a 3-headed duck and a little backstabbing.  it’s available now in my online shop.  and i’ll be showing it at the fringe festival here in saskatoon, starting tonight.

back in 2006 i was invited to take part in an art book fair at aka gallery in saskatoon.  i’d just started this blog.  my first solo show of drawings was opening soon and i was still drawing for that show.  the art book fair was scheduled just a week after my show opening.  i didn’t have a book of drawings, or any other book to show.  but i wanted to take part, so of course i said ‘yes’.

i’d already been making a few amigurumi animals, but i didn’t have a story.  so i sat down a couple of nights after my show opening and wrote a story.  i spent a couple of days going around town taking photos with my amigurumi (it was super-cold, some of the “special effects” were hard to get right, i had to go to value village to find a pink jeep for the big ending).  paul and i stayed up late one night to do the layout and i got it printed the next day, at an office printing shop.  i bolted the pages together and took it right to the art book fair.

everyone seemed to really enjoy the spencer book.  that summer i brought it to the fringe festival and people were lining up in front of my table to read it, bringing their friends over.  i thought about getting it printed professionally but it seemed like too much trouble.  i always meant to make a smaller, affordable version of the book, but life kept getting busier and that never happened.  i did design a set of ‘spencer’ postcards that i’ve been showing at the fringe festival and selling in my online shop.  and the 3-headed maximum team power duck doll who played the bad guy in the book, made an appearance as part of a show i did at the mendel art gallery.

well, now i’ve finally made a mini-version of the spencer book that you can buy and take home with you.  it’s roughly 4 x 6 inches in size, so you can carry it in your pocket.  just take it out and read it when you need a little laugh. or you can come to my blog and read the whole story here. click the thumbnails to view the pages at full size or click the link below to launch a slideshow.

[nggallery id=spencerbook]

i’m taking part in the saskatoon fringe festival again this year, starting tonight until august 8th.  it’ll be the 4th time i’ve showed there in 5 years.  i’ll be selling this petit spencer book as well as my prints and postcards.  come on down to broadway avenue to meet me.  i’m planning to attend as many days as i can.  i’ll probably have elijah with me for some of the time, since he’s having a very emotional separation anxiety these days.

hope to see you there!

nightmares and dreamscapes (planet s review)

planet s review

my solo show ‘indoor playground’ at the stall gallery was reveiwed there was was reviewed by bart gazzola in planet s, saskatoon’ s city magazine (vol. 7, issue 20).   he also wrote a review of my work showing at the mendel art gallery’s ‘artists by artists’ show in 2007.

Nightmares And Dreamscapes

by Bart Gazzola

Runs to May 24
The Stall Gallery

It has been said that, in terms of human endeavours, 90 per cent fall in the category of failure, while 10 per cent succeeds. In terms of the art world, I’d be comfortable raising the former to 95.

Cynical, sure — but I was speaking to someone recently about the differing art worlds (or genres), and how they can all too often be sadly incongruous, contradictory and vicious (not to mention vacuous) in the assertion of their primacy. The failure of this approach can be seen in the corporate wallpaper of the RBC painting competition, for example, or the manner in which ideology and poor execution, regrettably, has characterized many an Artist-Run Centre (ARC) — to their detriment.

Perhaps, this may simply be a crisis of faith concerning the current world of art on my part — a world where far too many people speak about how their works sell as supposed proof of their value. To that, I can only respond that there’s a thriving market for porn and crack, as well.

Happily, an antidote to that type of frustration comes in the most recent work by local artist Yuka Yamaguchi, currently showing at the Stall Gallery. Her career is taking off — and deservedly so, thanks to exhibitions in the past such as Flatlanders at the Mendel (where she displayed some of the strongest work in the show), and now with this solo exhibition of newer works.

Yamaguchi’s works are often deliberate and sparse, and yet always colourful and engaging. There is a childlike — not at all to be confused with childish — nature to her work: it’s playful and exploratory, and full of bright colours. The actors in her scenes are all young, and some seem to be enjoying themselves, while others appear somewhat put upon, or suffering stoically….

read more on planet S

earlier in planet S, my solo show was listed as the #1 event in saskatoon.  the write-up says:: yuka yamaguchi’s art is gorgeously cute and cuddly — until you notice how disturbing some of these images are.  originally from japan.  saskatoon is seriously lucky to have her in this city!”

planet s :: top 6 event

thanks for having me, saskatoon.  i like living here.

verb newspaper interview :: Yuka’s indoor playground

verb review

a few days after i arrived in japan, i was contacted by a writer, jenn sharp from verb newspaper in saskatoon.  she wanted to interview me to write about my solo show, ‘indoor playground’  at the stall gallery.

i had only one day to answer — she emailed me question on may 5th –> i returned my anwers on may 6th.  the paper was published on may 8th!  she only had one day to summarize my answer and write about the show…  it’s amazing how quickly things happen in the newspaper world.

i like the way she incorporated my answers in her article, especially the inclusion of my quote, ‘i never let myself worry about what other people will think‘.  it’s my mantra.  this mantra is amazing.  repeat it several times and bam!  you no longer worry about what other people think.  it is more effective if you shout this mantra as you run down the shore at dusk.

you can read the paper on their website www.verbnews.com .  search for issue 38, local arts page 6.

Yuka Yamaguchi’s Indoor Playgound

Jenn Sharp

Saskatoon , SK — Yuka Yamaguchi’s artwork is cute, colourful and often startling. In Taste of Mama a cute child peels what appears to be an apple but is actually a female breast, nipple intact. Others feature children missing limbs or scissors cutting a frog, who sits on a crumpled piece of paper in a twist on the classic game.

Yamaguchi hails from Kobe, Japan but now resides in Saskatoon. A self-taught, full-time artist since 2006, her show Indoor Playground is on display at the new Stall Gallery in The Farmer’s Market Square until May 24th. A self professed “child at heart”, she hopes people “will have fun looking at the drawings [and] find the show interesting and worth a look without giving a second thought to what it means.

The most powerful part of the exhibit is a wall dedicated to nursing and oppai (breasts in Japanese). The drawings express many of the emotions she felt when nursing her first child. “My drawings mostly end up as unintentional self-portraits…  but that’s often an accident. I don’t intend my drawings to be an autobiography, ” Yamaguchi told Verb. Yamaguchi says pregnancy and motherhood changed her artwork as she started drawing in vivid colours and noticed images of her baby appearing in her work.

Yamaguchi explains that she does not believe in the idea of influence: “Some people  from Canada think my weird ideas must be from Japanese culture but most Japanese people think my art is weird too…my art comes out of me.” Endearingly honest, she says “I never let myself worry about what other people will think about my drawing. What I’m doing is not based on other people’s ideas… I’m drawing for myself.” Each creation in the 20 piece collection combines elements of fun and peculiarity. There is even a space set aside for drawing in case you feel inspired. She also shows her art online, giving people freedom in viewing and making it a “part of their everyday life.”

and here are the interview questions in full:

Verb newspaper interview May 6, 2009

1. How long have you been creating artwork? How has your style changed and evolved over the years?

I’ve been drawing to amuse myself for years but only full-time since 2006.  In 2004 I showed some work at a women’s art festival in Kingston, Ontario and got a really nice response.  There were photos I’d taken of plastic doctor and nurse dolls I found at the dollar store, homemade toys for adult-children, and some simple drawings I did in markers.

I was drawing off and on for the next couple years but not taking it seriously.  I moved to Saskatoon and started showing my artwork on Flickr and on my blog, plastiquemonkey.com.  I was offered a show of drawings at Royal Red gallery (in the Phonographique music shop).  I realized I didn’t have much to show so I did most of the drawings for that show in 2 weeks.  Then AKA Gallery invited me to participate in a book fair.  I accepted but then realized I didn’t have a book to show.  So I made up a children’s story about an amigurumi (knit) dog called Spencer The Ennui Dog and took photos of him and my other characters around my apartment and around the city.  People thought the book was funny so I ended up making postcards of it.

Since 2006 I’ve been drawing whenever I have enough time.  I draw with color pencils on paper.  My style has changed as I have learned new techniques for combining colors and shading.  But the ideas in my drawings haven’t changed too much over this time.  Images come to me from somewhere and I start drawing. Sometimes the drawing changes halfway through and I surprise myself.  I don’t sketch or erase or re-draw anything.  I get really excited and can’t stop myself from drawing whatever image has popped up in my mind.

2. Have you noticed your artistic style adapting to changes in your personal life? Has the birth of your son and having him in your life influenced your creativity?

Before I got pregnant I used pastel colors most of the time.  When I got pregnant, even before I found out, I started drawing in vivid colors, too.  My drawings mostly end up as unintentional self-portraits, one way or another.   Looking back I can see things have been happening to my body in pregnancy and with breastfeeding and I can find my baby appearing.  But that’s often an accident — I don’t intend my drawings to be an autobiography or anything.

Having my son has changed the way I work.  I draw at home and Elijah is home with me.  I used to draw whenever I felt like it and would keep drawing until the piece was finished.  I would stay up all night, draw for 14 hours almost non-stop, that kind of thing.  Now I can only draw when Elijah is sleeping, and that only lasts for a few hours, at best.  I have to motivate myself to draw when I have time, even if I’m tired or don’t feel like it.  That’s been a big change, and I’m only just getting used to it now.

3. Do you think your life imitates your art or your art expresses your own life?

I’m not sure.  Both my life and my art depend on me.  There’s a loop between them, but it’s twisted.  I don’t know which one comes first.

4. I enjoyed the description of your artwork as “useless toys and art for adult children”. Do you consider yourself an adult child?

I’m a child at heart.  That’s one of my favorite things about motherhood, I get to play with my son and share his mentality sometimes.

5. How often do you visit Japan and what influences from that culture play a part in your artwork?

I was born and raised in Japan and my parents still live there.  Some people from Canada think my weird ideas must be from Japanese culture but most Japanese people think my art is weird, too.   I don’t like the idea of influence: I never went to art school, I don’t know much about art history, I rarely go to art galleries, and I don’t have time to pay attention to popular culture in Canada or Japan. My work comes out of me, but I don’t know where it comes from.

6. What reactions would you like to see from people that view your current exhibit at the Stall Gallery?

I want them to have fun looking at my drawings. I show my art online so that people can see it at home or at work, as part of their everyday life. The Stall Gallery is in the same building as the farmer’s market at the River Landing.  I like the idea that people who are walking around buying everyday food will stumble across my art.  I like to think of myself as an art farmer, growing images and showing them to people.  I hope they find the show interesting and worth a look without giving a second thought to what it means.  I left a children’s table with some paper in the gallery so people visiting the show can draw something if they feel inspired.

7. Do you have a favorite piece at the exhibit?

You’re not supposed to pick a favorite of your children!  I like the variety.  I’m showing lots of brand new drawings and some from the past few years.  There are some big poster-style pieces in markers and a set of small alphabet drawings on colorful paper about “oppai” (breastfeeding) that I did for Elijah.  I like putting an exhibit like this together because I find new things in my drawings when I hang them next to each other in groups.

8. Your art seems to push boundaries and norms. Do you enjoy that controversial aspect?

I don’t think my work is controversial.  I never let myself worry about what other people will think about my drawing.  What I’m doing is not based on other people’s ideas or expectations or boundaries.  I’m drawing for myself.