Born in Japan in 1989, Yukiko has led a fascinating life, culminating in pursuing her passion and becoming a celebrated artist and illustrator. After falling in love with the French way of life whilst studying at Paris art school Ecole de Condé, Yukiko decided to remain in Paris, where she has made a name for herself as a world-class illustrator and acrylic artist.
We caught up with Yukiko to find out what led her down the path of following her dreams, as well as how essential oils inspire her work and enhance her wellbeing.
Why did you become an artist?
When I was young, I really loved drawing - flowers, princesses, fashion sketches, animals, landscapes... I was always drawing. In fact, I drew so much that my mom had to stop buying sketch books and start collecting scrap paper to give me. She had to find old calendars, flyers, wrapping paper – anything! I think she still keeps some of my old drawings now.
Drawing quickly became my passion, and this followed me through life. After working for several years in a Japanese company, I decided to follow a new career in the art world. And naturally, I became an illustrator!
Tell us a bit about the art that you do
I paint in acrylics. I love to mix different brush strokes and create emotion through my artwork. I paint on 200-300g paper and then scan my work to retouch the colours digitally. I paint for myself, as well as for clients across the globe including magazines, marketing campaigns and products. I also publish children’s books.
What's your favourite painting that you’ve done?
It’s difficult to choose my favourite painting because there are so many! As my style and inspiration have evolved slowly over time, my favourites are constantly changing. At the moment, one of my favourite paintings is of the Californian landscape in the film Marriage Story. I found the landscape so epic and beautiful, I couldn’t help but recreate it.
Another favourite is a portrait I created of my friend when we spent some time together at a holiday home in the south of France. I added my own touch to it though; the house was quite different to how I’ve painted it, with very simple décor, and my friend was wearing a beautiful floral dress, so I couldn’t help but add some floral motifs around her!
How do you find living in France? Is there anything you miss about Japan?
The thing I miss most about living in Japan is the food! I often bring some Japanese seasoning and tea back to France with me when I have the opportunity to go back to Japan. I live in Paris, so luckily it is easy to find Asian food to cook, but some ingredients are more expensive or difficult to find here. Sometimes my mom sends me a package of Japanese food too.
I love French gastronomy and I really appreciate that I can live in this country, but at home, I want to make a good Miso soup, or vegetable with dashi. This is how I keep my body healthy, helping me to feel my best.
Everything that I use to create my art, I bought here in France. It was here in Paris that I studied Art, so materials that I can find in France are familiar to me. However, I do believe that the skill of Japanese calligraphy makes my art more elegant.
Tell us about some of the biggest highlights of your career
Last winter, I joined two creative agencies. This brought me many different interesting opportunities to make visuals for different types of clients. I'm so happy with the results and I think it became a great milestone in my career.
I'm also happy with the result of my latest children's book: Forêt des frères. Originally, I published the book in French in 2020, and then it was bought by publishing houses to be published in Japanese, Spanish, and other languages. It warms my heart that children across the globe are able to read my book in their language! It was definitely a proud moment, and one that I’ll never forget.
You have a gorgeous home. What styles do you like?
Thank you! I think of my home interior as a simple and refined design. This is mainly a mix of Scandinavian vintage combined with modern design. I also love to have lots of textures in my home, such as ceramics. I’d love to create a large piece of art for an empty wall, but with my illustration work, I’m struggling to find the time!
Who inspired you to begin using essential oils?
It was my mom that first told me about essential oils. I can’t remember how old I was when I was first introduced to essential oils, but I regularly saw my mom use them. She would use her essential oils in the bath, in her bedroom before sleeping, and when she wanted to relax and to clear her mind.
What I do remember is that I loved the aroma of her essential oils and couldn’t wait to begin using them myself.
How do you use essential oils in your daily life?
My favourite way to use essential oils is for relaxing. I love to mix essential oils in my bath or diffuse them in the bedroom or the living room in the evening. Essential oils are also great for fuelling my creativity, which is perfect for those times when my mind goes blank.
I also love to use essential oils for cleaning. Tea tree and eucalyptus essential oils are great for this, disinfecting the home whilst refreshing the air. I find that the best way to keep a room smelling great is to put a small amount of essential oil on a little piece of fabric and place it inside a chest of drawers. The scent slowly disperses around the room, leaving it smelling great.