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An Interview with Miki Yonahara

When I was visiting Tokyo the summer after high school, I decided to visit a small zine store at the urging of a friend. Mount Zine isn't much bigger than an elevator shaft, but oh, the treasures it contained. It seemed like every inch of the wall was covered in small booklets made by local artists-- a zine lover's dream. But out of all the gorgeous, handmade books available, I found myself inexplicably drawn to a small zine, chalked full of ink and watercolor illustrations of women looking distant and apathetic, but also mysterious and alluring, as if they were challenging me to make them care about something. This was my first introduction to the work of Miki Yonahara.

In the years since, Miki has become a dear friend of mine, but I am still no closer to unlocking the mysteries of her art, which I think is part of why it appeals to me. Her art definitely comes from a feminine perspective-- the women in her art seem almost annoyed that the viewer is observing them. Understanding them is hopeless because we're only seeing a small glimpse into their lives, and they seem aware of this, they seem to know that they can only be appreciated for their beauty, and they also seem to know that they deserve a much deeper appreciation than this. Amid this cynicism, however, there exists a sense of whimsy and fantasy. The girls Miki draws have brightly colored hair, outrageously bold makeup, and eye-catching, trendy clothes. Sometimes their features look almost alien, but there's something about the attitudes that they exude that seems distinctly human. She's branched out into more digital art and even short animations, but all of her creations have her signature glittery despondency. It's strangely feminine, intoxicatingly modern, and I just can't get enough.

Who are your inspirations and what lessons did they teach you?

I am influenced by myself in various timelines, future, past, present. I am taught to say "enjoy now".

What are you most proud of?

I am proud to have had a workshop with delicate students who have difficulty attending school. Meeting students is a treasure of my life.

Can you explain your artistic process?

I create pictures by shaping the vision that I have come up with inspiration into shapes, sounds, colors, and lines!

How does your identity as a woman affect your work?

Gives emotional fluctuations, and as a result, makes it possible to create gradation art of various emotions. I can create art because of my emotions

I noticed that I recently posted a lot of short animations on Instagram. Have you ever made a short film?

No. I like watching movies, anime, and video works, so I think the current short animation is the embodiment of that curiosity!

Some recent works have some kind of glitch effect. Why are you drawn to glitch aesthetics?

I use it because it feels like a glitch effect that expresses the rough feelings of my heart.

Are there any similarities between your personal style (from a fashion point of view) and your art?

Shamanism, spirituality, spirituality, spirituality, witchcraft, magic, witches, medieval Europe, monastery fashion styles, religious motifs are similar. The rest is the flow of emotions.

What was the most transformative experience in your life?

My consciousness changed 180 degrees when my friend in Okinawa taught me about the origin of the world, the process by which humans were born, where the soul is and how it is reincarnated.

When did you want to pursue art as a career?


How do you think your work will change in the future?

I feel that it will be deeply connected to the human spiritual world.


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