I'm Nami, an artist based in the DC-Metro area. I was born in California to Okinawan parents, raised in Florida, and went to high school in Northern Virginia. I now work in Washington DC.
I graduated from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in 2012, where I received the useful (if redundant-sounding) Bachelor of Fine Art in Fine Art.
My work depicts the everyday absurdity of a chaotic life, morphed into surrealist semi-nightmares. I feature characters with unique experiences with personal identity, be it from from race, gender, or neurodiversity. I strive to capture the often stark-yet-vibrant realities and perspectives of such lives.
My art is influenced by the aesthetics of my Okinawan-Japanese background, especially in movements like ukiyo-e, which feature glorification of the female body, stilted perspectives, and flat colors. More contemporary art styles, such as manga, move me to draw subjects with exaggerated features - except with the characteristic cuteness pushed over the edge into more unsettling territory.
When I work in color, I try to infuse a sense of Okinawan flavor through bright, garish palettes like one finds in bingata textiles, which capture the traditional Okinawan spirit of open, joyful brashness – so brash, it's almost abrasive.
I’m also inspired by late 19th and early 20th-century illustrators like Edmund Dulac and Aubrey Beardsley. The “Golden Age of Illustration” these artists were tied to, along with its cross-world contemporary shin hanga, were both art movements where east and west influenced each other. As one of the Okinawan diaspora who was raised in the US, I feel personally connected to such cultural estuaries.
When making art, I start off with traditional materials: pen, ink, and watercolors. Occasionally, I will use digital programs when I want a piece to have a more flat and highly-saturated look. Either way, all my work is hand-drawn: I need to have touched it for it to feel like it came from me.