Tasty Art With Nahoko Kumagai, The Cover Art Illustrator Of AWW ISSUE 5!
Have you ever eaten something so delicious that you feel as though you’re transported to another world? Whether you have a sweet or sour tooth, Tokyo-based illustrator Nahoko Kumagai’s works offer us a moment to reflect: on the beauty of the edible world, and the simple pleasures in life regarding everything tasty.
Food can truly be an experience, and Nahoko captures this sentiment perfectly. By adding a touch of mysticism to the everyday and familiar, her illustrations effortlessly show how food can take you to so many different places. Nahoko’s creations cater to the “what ifs” that arise from playing with our food. They also provoke a sense of childhood nostalgia, through the way she brings to life the excitement we feel when eating our favourite dish. We’re so lucky to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Nahoko, to learn more about her artistic process and what inspires her the most. Of course, we’re most grateful to have her whimsical work grace our cover and interview stories!
AWW: Hi Nahoko, we have thoroughly enjoyed working with you on AWW Issue 5 – Beautiful Souls and Food! How has the experience been for you? What was your process when creating the main feature illustrations?
Nahoko Kumagai: Hi there. I was really surprised when I got such an offer because I still thought of myself as a fledgling illustrator, but I became totally immersed in the project as I found it very interesting, and was also very excited to see the finished illustration work. I would like to thank you again for such a wonderful opportunity.
Regarding the creative process, I first made the rough sketches based on the ideas from the editorial team. The original ideas are really interesting so I was conscious about keeping them and integrating them nicely into my illustrations. Once the rough sketches were finished, I then used Photoshop to add many layers of colors to express the details. I carefully chose the colors that matched the image of the feature artists and could help bring out the highlights of the illustrations. I also paid extra attention when drawing food to make it look realistic and delicious.
AWW: What was the biggest challenge you have encountered in this project?
Nahoko: The biggest challenge would be the time limitation for this amount of work, as I can usually take as much time as needed on my illustrations. It was also a big challenge to follow in the footsteps of all the talented illustrators who worked for the magazine in the past and to draw the five wonderful featured artists this time. But I strived to do my best and meet the deadlines.
AWW: We can only wonder what other creations you have in store. Are there any future project ideas that you would like to share with us?
Nahoko: I have always been interested in constellations. I am thinking of making illustrations with that as the motif for my exhibition next year.
AWW: Do you have a sweet tooth like us? What kind of snack did you eat while drawing the illustrations for your AWW magazine collaboration?
Nakoko: I love sweets. Pudding, crepes, maritozzo, mont blanc, strawberry shortcake, sweet buns and dumplings, etc..., all these sweets gave me lots of energy to keep drawing during the creative process.
AWW: We’ve noticed that many of your pieces involve the outdoors and natural elements. What influence does nature and the different seasons have on your art? Is there a particular time of year that inspires you the most? Why?
Nahoko: As you know, there are four distinct seasons in a year — spring, summer, autumn, and winter. But in addition, there are actually seventy-two seasons (shichujuni-zō) in Japan, each of which can be demonstrated by the detailed changes of nature, for instance in plants, flowers, worms, insects and birds. I am moved by the fact that we all experience it in the same way as the people in the past did, and I try to express our common feelings about the seasons. The most inspiring season for me is winter. I like the cold and quiet air of the season and often try to paint it out. I also like the fresh green in early summer.
AWW: Where did you grow up? Are there aspects of your childhood that influence your art?
Nahoko: I grew up in a suburb close to Tokyo, surrounded by rice fields and small mountains. My parents like to draw, and under their influence I have been drawing since I was a child. Also, during my childhood I was always close to nature, playing outside, going on adventures in the forest and running between the rice fields. These might all have influenced my drawing today.
AWW: This issue of AWW magazine focuses on beautiful souls and food. Is there a beautiful soul in your life who’s cooking makes you feel most at home?
Nahoko: I was so impressed when I tried the pasta made by my husband for the first time. I did not like pasta much before but I have been a big fan ever since. His pasta is the only pasta that I would always want to eat more, even when I am having some really good pasta at a great restaurant. His cooking is experimental and sometimes fails, but even so it still excites me and I like the whole process of it.
AWW: Our interviewees chose animals that best represent themselves — what about you? What is your soul animal and why?
Nahoko: Birds. I am attracted to them a lot. I am particularly interested in those that are commonly seen, such as sparrows, swallows, and pigeons.
Eager for more behind the scenes from Nahoko? Here you goooo!
To find out more about Nahoko Kumagai, please visit the artist’s IG account | @torinome
All images provided by Nahoko Kumagai.