True Expression: Interview With Yuko Kyutoku

My life’s passion is creating visual art. Specifically, I love printmaking, painting, and drawing. 

Printmaking allows me to combine many techniques with many mediums, such as watercolor, acrylic, charcoal, ink, and colored pencil. In addition to printmaking, I also enjoy painting. I have used acrylic, watercolor and soft pastel. I have been able to explore painting people and landscapes in these mediums. In addition to these traditional subject matters, I also enjoy creating abstract pieces. My third interest is drawing with pencil and charcoal. I thoroughly enjoy that I can erase and create depth with charcoal and pencil. Regardless of the medium, my work is incredibly detailed and passionate. Each piece has a clear message. My artwork reflects my universe: hardships, sufferings, hopes and dreams. 

As a child, I read many classic books and cartoon magazines. I also watched many movies and listened to many kinds of great music. I was always fascinated by these masterpieces. I found these classic masterpieces opened my mind. I could think and dream about many things. The way I produce my art is by taking other art forms, such as books, music, and movies, and convert them to my prints, paintings, and drawings. I carry a sketchbook with me, so I can put ideas on paper anytime. Then, when the time is right, I can sit down with a piece of charcoal or a paintbrush and express myself. My artwork is a reflection of my universe as I’ve experienced it through others’ art. It flows from my experiences in the world into my life and then onto the paper. 

My path that led me to artistic expression has been transformational. It used to be difficult for me to show my opinions, beliefs, and my thoughts. What I came to realize, though, was that I could express myself very effectively through my art. I came to New York to pursue my passion for art. Originally, I did not have confidence in myself, but I found that I had a gift for art and am able to offer hope to others through my work. 

Ten years from now, I see myself creating art that opens people’s minds to something positive in life. I would like to create the kind of art that will stay in people’s heart and heal people’s suffering. I believe there is no barrier in the world of art. Great artwork transcends language and cultural barriers. Through my art, I want to improve the lives of others. I want to create the kind of artwork that gives hope. To me, the purpose of my art is to make people feel something deeper, just like I felt from the masterpieces that transformed my life.


Briefly describe your creative journey. When did you gain an interest in visual art?

Since I was young, I  have always been fascinated by art of all kinds like Japanese cartoons, anime, movies, music, and books. I suffered from depression, anorexia,   and bullying when I was in elementary school. These difficult experiences brought me closer to the spiritual world. I always daydreamed of traveling to another world which I created and I also sometimes painted the world onto papers, which still influences me today. Those experiences, although negative, were formative, and led me to realize that “life is only one time. and follow my heart to live without regret” At the age of twenty years old, I volunteered in Mother Teresa’s Church in India, Cambodia, and Bangladesh, and visited  London to attend a language school for 8 months. During my stay in London, I visited museums and saw great masterpieces. I traveled to some European countries and visited local galleries and museums, all of which transported me back to my childhood when I dreamed of becoming an artist. 

After my travels, I officially decided to pursue art and left for the United States in 2013 to do so.


What is your work about? What are some themes and subjects you love to explore?  

The central theme of my work focuses on the treasures, moments of an impression  in everyday life. Every country or city that I visit inspires me, especially  New York City. and music, movies, poetry, and Japanese literature all contain a wealth of influences. I am especially influenced by Elvis Presley, Carpenters, and Japanese pop music.”

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Describe your creative process. Where do the references for your works come from? 

I was born in Gifu in 1991 and raised in Aichi, Japan. I lived in nature and traditional, historical places. When I was younger,  I read many classic books and cartoon magazines. I also listened to many kinds of great music and watched many movies. These classic masterpieces are major impacts on me (again, be more specific; give actual titles for books and films, otherwise it seems like you’re lying. 


How do you balance studio time with other life responsibilities?

It is very important for me to secure the time in the studio. Creating art is the most important thing in life for me, and everything else is secondary. I focus on concentrating things to do as smoothly as possible every day and trying to secure the time of the studio during the daytime, especially during the night when I become productive.


You work in several different mediums. How do they relate to each other or do you keep each one separate? 

I make works using various materials, but they are all connected by the same theme of treasures within the everyday.


Share a favorite quote or piece of advice. 
If you're born without wings, don't do anything to stop them growing.- Coco Chanel
My art must be devoted to improving the fate of the poor people. - Beethoven


What are you currently working on? 

I am currently working on silkscreen based paintings and creating a series of works on the ancient Greek and Roman sections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.