Araki Koman is a French freelance Illustrator, born and raised in Paris and currently based in London.
Inspired by Paris multiculturalism she spent her childhood and teen years drawing and cultivating an international mindset through her strong interest for different cultures and dreams about discovering new places. After a Masters degree and a brief career in Marketing, Araki graduated from London Shillington College in 2012 with a Graphic Design degree. Today, she has lived, worked and studied in France, UK, China, Canada, Iceland, Denmark, and Japan. We adore her work and approached her for an interview. 😀
For Creative Girls: Your work is so soulful and spirited, what spurs you on when you start working on a design?
What a compliment! Thanks a lot. My creative process is quite spontaneous and organic. The soulfulness might come from the fact that the majority of my illustrations are not sketched and rarely planned. I draw directly with ink or permanent pencils, which leaves no room for hesitation. I usually start with a global idea about what I have to make in my head, check some of my inspiration boards on Pinterest and then start drawing while listening to music that gets me into a state of complete focus. When all those elements inspire me deeply, I am almost in trance! (laughs)
What was your childhood and growing up like, living in Paris and having a Multicultural mindset?
I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to grow up in such a cosmopolitan city with access to a vast array of cultures, people, and languages. During my childhood and teen years, I had periods where I was very passionate about specific regions of the world and would spend all my free time digging information about it, listening to music from there, going to events and meeting people who were as much passionate as me on and offline. The most intense and lifelong phase I had was for Asian cultures and most specifically Japan. I even had blogs about it (laughs). Being in Paris was a blessing as I could easily meet like-minded bloggers in person, buy all sorts of imported goods (especially Cds and magazines) and hang out in places and events dedicated to my passion.
Although I always knew I wanted to leave the country at some point, France and especially Paris, fed my curiosity and nurtured my deep desire to explore the world.
You have a blend of discipline/fields, that come to play in your work. How did you choose your career path and points of study?
I always had a strong interest in drawing, fashion, travel, and ethnology. As an insecure teenager, I didn’t know how to combine all my passions and thought I was not talented enough to pursue a creative career professionally. Therefore, I ended up enrolling in an international Business School for the prestige and opportunities to travel the world. In 2010, after graduating with a Masters degree in Marketing and landing a job in a top IT company, I felt like I was losing myself. A few months later, I decided to embrace my creative side, moved to London, and took a one-year evening class in Graphic Design. Since my graduation in 2012, I have explored different aspects of my creativity: from graphic design in a small London studio, I started selling vintage & pre-loved clothes in London creative markets, then ended up as a textile design intern for an up and coming Icelandic fashion house in Reykjavik, got admitted in a fashion design program in Denmark and finally ended up coming back to Paris to focus on my anthropological project OUM x YUKI for which I interviewed people with multicultural identities in their space for about a year while drawing occasionally on the side.
Last spring, I finally took the decision to give my full attention to illustration. Funnily, by coming back to my first love, all my influences and experiences accumulated over the years, naturally emerged into my work.
For any artist thinking about merchandising, what tips, processes and experiences can you share that’ll help make the transition fruitful?
I am still learning but I think the key points would be to identify your target market and choose a platform and prices accordingly. To avoid stocks, start small with capsule collections and limited editions to test the products’ popularity and adjust your product offer. Hope it’ll help!
In your opinion, what is creativity? What’s your process for creating new things?
Good question… To me, creativity is our ability to use our inner world’s resources to create on the outside. Everyone has it but not everyone is willing to listen and trust themselves. My process of creation is very serendipitous. The more I am relaxed and go with the flow the more ideas I have. It’s not always smooth and easy as I am my worst critic but it definitely works.
Do you have a daily routine? Do you believe in routines? How do you ensure productivity?
I am very freestyle, and quickly get bored with routines. However, as a freelancer I am conscious that some sort of consistency is key to being productive, so I am seriously considering getting a permanent working space in the near future.
Your female characters are so beautifully wayward and lively! Do they come from a definition of who you are or an offspring of your ideologies?
A bit of both I guess. I like to think that the characters I draw are like muses that could inspire other women to be imperfectly beautiful and authentic, not afraid to speak their own truth, follow their vision, passions, intuition and express themselves fully into everything they do.
Your favourite websites, books, magazines and regular influences?
Websites: I don’t have time to browse websites anymore but I often find myself lost on Pinterest, watching Youtube videos or contemplating buying everything on Lisa Says Gah…
Books: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Steal like an artist by Austin Kleon
Magazines: Kinfolk, Brownbook, Milk Magazine…
At the moment, I also love listening to podcasts while working and in public transports: Creative Pep Talk and Being Boss.
Two women you admire/love?
Solange Knowles and Bjork for the muses that they are and the art they create. They are effortlessly authentic, inspiring and oh so talented!