Ken Smiths

Ken Smiths

Ken Smith Interview

Ken Smith

Children's Illustrator

Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?

Paris and Algiers where I spent my childhood.  Gorgeous shops facing the Champs-Elysées, the Eiffel Tower and the brilliant night view of Paris.  Algiers faces the Mediterranean Sea with a clear blue sky.  I still remember the colorful scenery of those days.  The memories of that time are connected to the color expression of my current work.

Since I was a kid, I liked drawing, so I graduated from high school and entered art school.  I majored in design in the Department of Graphic Design.  When I was a student, I was also interested in the colorful works of American pop art.

After graduating from an art school, joined an advertisement production company.  After gaining experience as a graphic designer, he joined a major cosmetics manufacturer as an art director.  I was in charge of art direction for my own cosmetics advertisement and gained experience gaining aesthetics.

In recent years, the desire to draw pictures has increased, and I started creative activities and posted my work on Instagram. Due to the posting, the work will be exhibited at the group planning exhibition.  At the exhibition, I was able to see the works of people who have a different world view from myself, which was fresh and exciting, and I had a strong feeling of wanting to do more creative activities.

Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?

I studied design at an art school.  I also learned visual communication, calligraphy and painting.  My illustration is self-taught.  I've always liked Snoopy since I was little, so I drew Snoopy illustrations every day.

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Where do you currently live and where did you grow up?

I live in Tokyo.  As a child, I lived in Algiers, Paris.

Have you always loved to draw?

Yes! I've loved drawing since I was a child.

Who or what have been some of your major artistic influences?

Keith Herring, Mark Gonzalez, Dick Bruna.

Do you have a favourite picture book or recall one of the first picture books you saw?

When I was a kindergartener, my teacher gave me a picture book “PICCOLETTO (Renato Lascelles/Enio de Majo)”, which I loved. I love the story and the warmth of the pictures. I still keep it with me.

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What is your favourite medium to work with and why?

Colored pencil.  Because it is easy to express the facial expressions and details of the character.  And because it is finished in a warm texture.

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Do you keep a sketch book?

I'm waiting.  I have various sizes.  When I go out, I hold my iPad and sketch.

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Who is your favourite children’s book character and why?

Curious George, Barbapapa, Miffy.

George, the monkey, is curious and free, and what he gets up to is interesting.

Barbapapa is a mysterious creature that has the power to transform into any shape, the "barbatric."  When I was a kid, I wanted such a trick myself.

I love Miffy because it's cute.  The colors are vivid and the colors can be combined.

Do you have a favourite soundtrack you listen to when you’re working?

Jazz and POPS.  Listen to quiet piano jazz and up-tempo jazz.

Are you an author/illustrator?

I'm an author and illustrator.I am particularly good at drawing illustrations with a warm and welcoming feel.

What are some of your favourite subjects to draw?

"Biodiversity".  The bears living in the forest eat the nuts and live in the animals with the motif expressed in the work.  A small bird that eats fruit that is a tree.  And the flowers and plants that bloom vividly... This world drawn is natural, and there is a possibility that it will disappear.  They are animals, plants... wildlife that may disappear in the long run due to environmental destruction and inability to live in the forest.  At the core of the work is the desire to cherish "biodiversity."

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