Tell us about your work.
I create Japan-inspired artworks of pen and watercolor. I sell original artworks at gallery exhibitions and also offer my designs as prints, postcards, illustration books, and more.
Does your artwork have a story?
My illustrations express intersections.
Intersections of reality and fantasy, of familiar and unfamiliar, and intersections of identity.
As a foreigner living in Japan there can be a lot of focus placed on cultural identity, and the concept of “insider” versus “outsider.” Art is one place where there are no limits and we don’t have to be one thing or another. By creating a space between reality and imagination, between “inside” and “outside,” I feel I’ve found a space where I don’t have to define who I am. It is a place where viewers can find their own world as well and where everyone is welcome.
Do you have a business philosophy?
I believe that it is important to create from the heart. Both the artist and the viewer can feel a good vibe from artwork that is genuine. I will only put out a design that I’ve really put my love into and I have grown to trust that that energy will be conveyed naturally to my patrons as well.
As an individual creating art and running a business I also value keeping a personal touch with customers. I always add a handwritten note to my webstore orders, to let my customers know it really is me every time at the other end of their order and that I am filled with personal gratitude for their support.
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Art has always been something I’ve loved to do, so creating artwork has never been a question. Since moving to Tokyo I became aware of a wide variety of amazing opportunities and venues to connect with other artists, showcase art, and find new fans. As I had the chance to connect with more people I was motivated and encouraged to widen the variety of offerings using my designs, such as making smaller printed merchandise that was more accessible, especially for younger patrons. Now I have a range of merchandise for tabling events and webstore sales, and also continue to offer original artworks at galleries.
What sets your artwork apart from others?
My subject matter and art style fit into that “in between” space. My experience living in Japan has evolved both my identity and my art style and viewers seem to pick up on that. Both Japanese and non-Japanese patrons find my designs unique, yet oddly relatable. I love thinking that how I express my imagination and experience through artwork might help open up more flexibility for everyone who feels like they are in an “in between” space living in Tokyo.
I think original art is often forgotten as an option for gifts or personal memories. I hope that I can remind people of the option and help them find something special and unique.
Find out more about Erica Ward Illustration
Click the “Shop” link from the menu on my website to see my available products. For inquiries about illustration or commission artworks, feel free to drop me a message in the “Contact” section or on social media.
To hear about upcoming exhibitions, events, and to peruse my artwork, feel free to follow me on Instagram and Facebook.
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Just before the triple disaster on March 11th 2011 I made an ikebana arrangement featuring sakura (cherry blossom) branches.
The devastating earthquake at 14:46 on that day triggered a deadly tsunami taking more than 20,000 lives in one wave and the following explosion at the nuclear plant in Fukushima left Japan reeling. We were terrified by endless aftershocks and distracted by where to buy uncontaminated water and (of course) toilet paper.
Those little sakura branches lay forgotten in a bucket of water on our terrace for months. And when the earth had settled enough for us to finally get life in order, I realized that the branches were still sitting there. The blossoms had long since disappeared and in their place, bright green waxy leaves had sprouted. Underneath the water, the branch had grown thick white roots.
Fast forward nine years and one of those little branches is now a tree that blossoms every year. It sprouts the same waxy leaves in the summer and turns golden in the Autumn. After dropping its crisp leaves in the winter, within a matter of days tiny pink buds appear. The cycle is seamlessly endless.
It feels like the world is in a similar place again. This time, a slowly unfurling disaster of epic proportions. But I know we can endure if we all work together. How can I be so sure? The sakura told me so.
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