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Artist Spotlight - Iori Kikuchi

Updated: May 25, 2020

By Angelyn Labadan

1. First, give us a short introduction!

Hi, I’m Iori Kikuchi. I was born in 1998 in Tokyo, and raised in Chigasaki, Kanagawa. I am a Japanese and native Japanese speaker but I can also speak English and a little bit French. I went to Paris twice when I was a highschool student to study French and art to be like the French famous painter, Claude Monet who is my longing.

My first time in France I studied at the school Lycée st Agnès, and the second time I studied at a painter’s house while doing some traveling on the side. In 2017, I enrolled in SUNY (State University of New York) Purchase College to major in painting/drawing.

Finally in 2018, I transferred to Temple University Japan (TUJ) to major Art. I am currently a senior who will graduate in Fall 2020.

2. Describe briefly the work that you do.

As a student at TUJ, I am currently pursuing an art career and focusing on my work. I create various works by using different methods from analog style (such as painting, drawing, printing) to digital media (iPad illustration/Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects).

Some of my work as a professional artist include being in charge of official goods design for the Japanese singer songwriter Anna Takeuchi, as well as working as an assistant of professor and designer Ian Lynam who is one of my mentors. Recently, in 2019, I received the wonderful first prize of the ‘TURNER AWARD 2018,’ the student art competition produced by TURNER COLOUR WORKS LTD.

3. How did you get introduced to your craft?

As a kid, I did not have money to buy somebody’s present. For family and friends’ birthday presents, I painted or illustrated something for them.

Painting and creating something really takes time, energy and love, which I think makes a great gift and something that was really fun for me to do.

That’s how I came to love creating something for people.

Then, when I was around 8 years old, I fell in love with the work called “Impression, Sunrise” created by the famous French painter, Claude Monet. I began to love painting and creating something influenced by him from this age because I admired his works and his career. However, I decided to start learning painting when I was 10 years old after I won a prize in an art competition.

4. What themes do you pursue?

When I think about why I paint, I often say that it’s because I want to be like the artist I most admire, Claude Monet. But to speak more specifically about this, I am fascinated by the fact that Monet created his works specifically in/for the era he lived. This is my goal and eternal theme: to create work that cannot be created by others who lived in another era.

5. How do you work/what is your process like?

Recently, I've been drawing illustrations digitally with the Procreate app on iPad pro, but sometimes I paint with watercolor. Sometimes, I feel like I’ll forget the feeling of using brushes or analog methods if I create digital works all the time. So to counter this, I draw in a sketchbook every day using a pen and do some calligraphy.

Another practice I have is to put a large size paper on the floor and practice painting using my whole body everyday. I do this before going to bed, and I think it requires a lot of stretching! Haha. But, I think that there is a difference in sensitivity between drawing on a large piece of paper and a small piece of paper. Since drawing on different size canvases uses different nerves, moving my body around while drawing makes sure that I don’t forget this sensitivity.

Of course, there are times when I create a design all day at my desk. I make work by using a combination of the Adobe programs Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, and After Effects. Overall, I love making things, so my production methods are endless and I want to try new methods every day.

6. Do you have any long-standing influences?

I have many strong willed friends who are the same age as me and active in various occupations. They cheer me up and encourage me to do my best, fueling both my jealousy and aspirations.

Thanks to them, I always have a desire to make new and interesting things. I think I am also influenced by the various environments and scenery: the scenes I saw in Paris and New York, the local atmosphere I grew up in, the tours of museums, and the things I see every day.

7. How do you want your work to affect your audience?

"How did she draw this?"

"Why can she make such a color?"

"What is her inspiration?"

"What does she want to convey?"

"I can't make this."

I would like my work to raise these kinds of questions in my audience and even passerbys.

In this day and age, I think many people live a little too fast. So I want to make works that give others time to see the picture: to simply look and see. I would also really like it if my work could have a small but deep influence in the viewer's everyday life.

8. Can you describe your idea of artistic success?

First, no matter what kind of art it is, there is “self” at the beginning of art. I think the foundation of art and it’s success is to express the passion stirring up within you, the gratitude of living, and also satisfying yourself with what you make.

Moreover, the next thing is to enrich your family, friends and lovers. By working hard and thinking openly, then you could make others happy with your arts, and this person is the artist and my idea of artistic success.

9. What are your plans for the future?

I try not to think about my future too seriously. There are many things I feel that have made me happy and I always thought that I would be content even if I died now or tomorrow. However, after entering college, I decided to reflect more on this question. I think generally what I would like to do, or continue to do, is similar to what I answered in question four: to create work that cannot be created by others who lived in another era.

And one more thing: I would like to meet more people through my art. I think art is the best way of urging mutual understanding between and beyond cultural differences. I believe that the power of art is stronger than words. So, I'd like to continue making works that take advantage of this characteristic art and meet many people through my art.

In all honesty, there is a special person who I want to meet right now who is in heaven. But currently, I’m living quite happily so it is difficult for me to just go and meet him. So as long as I'm alive in this world, and especially because of the current situation, I’d like to appreciate it, create a lot of memories and artworks before meeting him in the future. With that kind of motivation, I want to keep creating and being honest about what I can make, what I should make, and what I want to make.

Additionally, before my graduation in December 2020, I plan to have my solo art exhibition. Hopefully by that time, the whole COVID-19 situation is over and that I will be able to meet all of you reading this article and that you are able to see my

works in person!

10. Lastly, let’s talk about one of your most recent and favorite projects.

Iori Kikuchi

Love for People Who Loves Art


Mixed Media

Each: 162 x 130.3 cm (63.77x51.3in)

As an artist, I paint love and through my paintings I express hope for the world that I am living in. The people depicted in this painting are my dear friends who are artists or aspiring artists who are trying to create in this world.

For me, painting them represents that there are many young people who, through their passion for arts, love to make daily life more fun, warm, colorful, and entertaining for others.

However, there are some people who think that art is not necessary in order for this world to survive. Of course, it may be true in the most basic sense of survival, that somehow, we can live in our world without the arts, such as painting, music, dance, literature, etc. I would like to change this way of thinking, which dangerously reveals a negative image about artists’ future.

I want to show my own deep feelings, which are precisely expressed through the emotion of love. From the naming of my painting to my colorful and immense display of this emotion, naked and exposed upon a wall for all to see.

Painting is everything that I love. My paintings are not only for me, who is only one of a vast number of artists. But they are also for both famous and yet to be known artists who keep creating works. Likewise, they are for the people who love art, or are trying to be artists too. I always create art with the idea that none of us, myself and all aspiring artists, should ever stop creating.

I believe strongly that art or entertainment has such a huge and powerful ability to heal one's heart, to change people, to show them hope, to brighten their world, to make their existing life better.

These are acts of higher importance and can only be made by human beings and cannot be replicated by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Painting for me is not just a self-centered and egotistical concern (although ego and drive are essential). It’s a way for me to create works that can make someone's life richer or even heal their personal turmoil.

While I believe that there are benefits for the existence and advances of AI, like replacing the old things we use today, AI has no point or place in the emotional realm. This is where I believe art is strong and is something that AI cannot replace.

So, to link to and adapt to this kind of future, I decided to create this painting by first using acrylics, then proceeded to make many lines with ink markers to make many layers on these two big paintings.

I want people who aren’t so interested in art to stop in their tracks when in the presence of my large works. Then, I’d hope those who do stop and look, even for a second, can simply look at my work even without any deep consideration or analysis on what it’s supposed to mean or represent.

I think many people who aren’t interested in art stop looking at the art when they feel they don't know what it’s supposed to mean. So I think there’s an importance in having an environment where people can experience the physical feeling they get from the color and formation of [my] works. But also an environment where they may be deeply touched by the sensation that art is cool or good.

Be sure to connect with Iori on her instagram or webpage!


Thank you Iori for taking the time to talk with us!

Artist Spotlight is a series hoping to promote local creatives from TUJ and beyond. We aim to cover a diverse range of artists from a variety of fields, so please follow us to find out about aspiring artists and more!

Contact us if you want your work to be featured or know an artist who’s a good fit to our mission and you think deserves more attention!

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