Japanese illustrator and sunae artist Naoshi will make a special appearance at KOBO at Higo this Saturday, November 14. From 12:00-5:00pm she will sign books and demonstrate her precise, visually striking form of sand art. Her newly-published book Ice Cream Work and prints will be available for sale.
Sunae is a Japanese word meaning “sand painting”. Naoshi draws on sticker paper, then applies one color at a time by cutting and peeling sections of the illustration and sprinkling it with colored sand.
What do you love most about working in sunae?
I love the process of using vibrantly colored sand to transform a white board. I feel very gratified at the end of each project.
When learning the art of sunae, what did you find most difficult?
Making tiny pictures is really difficult because every line must be cut. There is no way to re-do or touch up a mistake, but the happy sense of satisfaction at seeing the finished piece is well worth the pressure! Shiny, colored sand is truly beautiful and I’d like everyone to see the original pieces, not just the digital images.
At what age did you know you were an artist?
I was about 25 years-old when I knew I was an artist, but Ice Cream Man (the main character in Ice Cream Work) is a character gleaned from a drawing I first created when I was just 7! I re-discovered this character in 2007 and began expanding his daily life and world. When I started making sunae, I never thought I’d be an artist; I just loved this art form!
We love the smaller characters in Ice Cream Work, too! Did you draw “Ice Cream Dog” or “Pretending Interest Cheetah” before or after you created “Ice Cream Man”?
I drew the smaller characters after I created Ice Cream Man. I imagined the daily life of this character – his friends (both good and bad), his girlfriend and other creatures around him. I had so much fun imagining these characters.
What surprised you most about living in the United States? [Naoshi is from Iwate Prefecture in Japan, but currently living in Los Angeles.]
The wide roads and freeways! While in Japan, I hadn’t driven in a decade, so I felt completely unable to drive in LA. Today, I sing while I drive!
Ice Cream Man works hard, but he also takes time to have fun and relax. How do you balance your life between work and play?
For me, if it’s work, it’s work. To balance my life, I go to music concerts, eat dinner with friends, read comic books and eat sweets. I’m gonna have fun!