“My workspace is located in a corner of my bedroom. I like putting random doodles and ephemera on the wall. I normally try to keep it fairly tidy, but I don’t believe in overly tidy desk as long as I use it for creative activities.”
Masako Kubo is an illustrator living in Japan. After receiving a non-art related BA degree and working for an ad agency in Tokyo, Masako studied illustration at University College Falmouth in England.
FROM YOUR DESKS: How do you work?
MASAKO KUBO: For most commissioned works, I draw my idea sketches and roughs with pencil and pen. I will trace the lines and make textures manually, scanned and put together on the computer to make a final artwork. Occasionally, I create works by hand, mostly using stencil and rollers. This, however, is usually only for personal work due to amendments and time limits required by commissioned work.
FYD: What is your favorite sentimental object at your workspace and why?
MK: My workspace is small so I try not to be too sentimental (otherwise it will be too packed). My favorite is the poster in the center of the wall. I put it in front of my desk (see above) when I was a student in the UK. When I returned from Japan, I brought it back and put in front again to remember the time when I was studying. It reminds me of why I am doing what I’m doing now, and helps me when I feel a bit lost.
I am attracted to details of the objects…
FYD: What is your favorite or most required work tool?
MK: Pencil and paper. Everything starts from these tools. I really love pencil lines for some reason. It’s naive and strong. It can be undone and redone, so I feel relaxed and free to make any mistakes.
FYD: Have various travels made a difference in how you approach your work?
MK: Yes. Traveling in other countries and living there for a while changed my whole perspective. I was exposed to more varieties of artworks and more varieties of life. The most important thing I learned is that I can be anyone and do anything. It seems obvious, but it’s actually difficult to think like that if you stick to the same place all the time. I feel freer and easier about my art than before.
MK: I don’t travel that often these days, but I love traveling. I ‘m more interested in seeing normal life in places and find out how different it is from mine. One of the most important activities for me is to pop in a local supermarket, second-hand shops, parks and watch people. You can attach some personal memories to the place that way.
FYD: When you were growing up, what type of objects caught your eye? What attracted you?
MK: I’m attracted to details of the objects, such as the patterns of people’s cloths, all the different brown colors an old wooden temple has, etc.
FYD: Talk about your love for maps – how did this develop?
MK: I think it comes from my general approach towards my art. I’m not a person who can draw by just letting my creativity run wild. I plan what I’m going to create, put my ideas in order so that they make some sense (in my brain or sometimes in my sketchbook) before I actually start to move my hands. I think making maps is similar to this – you need to collect necessary information and put them in order beforehand.
I can be anyone and do anything.
FYD: What are some of your favorite cities to visit?
MK: In recent years, my favorites have become New York and Tokyo. I love the very modern, super convenient, and gigantic cities that totally blow me away (as long as I can escape from it whenever I need).
MK: I tend to be attracted by new places rather than visiting the same place again, though Falmouth, England (photo left) is an exception. It’s a small seaside town where I lived and studied for three years. It’s quite different from what you would imagine from England. It’s countryside but extremely rich in culture and beauty. I must visit again.
FYD: Where do we find you when you aren’t working?
MK: I’ll probably be walking around the neighborhood and chasing after cats, or strolling in one of the bookshops for some inspiration.