Shu Okada has lived in Tokyo, studied at Central St. Martins in London and is now living it up as a Brooklyn artist. Her illustrations have an eerie sophistication beneath a childlike mask. She uses a unique white-line style which creates strange, fragmented tension and adds to the mystery of her work. In addition to being an illustrator, Shu is also a photographer. Her photographs and watercolors both portray the contained, luminous energy captured in still moments of life.
Shu talks to BUST:
If your art was music/food, what would it sound/taste like?
Chai tea. sweet and spicy. It doesn’t have a strong taste but make you feel relax and warmth.
What is your favorite place in NYC for finding inspiration?
I like walking around east village and around alphabet city. There are a lot of small stores that they have their own worlds inside.
what is the best/worst advice you ever got from your mom?
It was always my dad who gave me advice. He was very open minded and I was often surprised by his advice.
What is your favorite petting zoo animal?
Goats, ducks, rabbits, monkeys, ponies… what ever I can get.
What is your ideal breakfast?
I like both Japanese and western style breakfasts, but I feel more relaxed when I eat rice, miso soup, and fish in the morning (and sometimes nato).
What are your favorite materials to work with?
watercolor but sometimes black ink.
Which artists/musicians/writers influence your work?
The Japanese short story writer Shinich Hoshi.
what themes repeatedly haunt your work?
Myself. I play the role of the characters in my paintings.
Whose opinion influences you the most?
There are a lot, but I would say probably my boyfriend. He tells me that I suck, but he also helps me at the same time.
What would you be if you weren’t an artist?
It is hard to think because it was my dream to be an artist since I was young.
But if I have to choose, I would be selling Kimonos in Japan because that is what my grandparents do.
What roles do escapism and reality play in your work?
First I try to think realistic, and as I draw, many unrealistic things appear on the paper.
If you could only draw one thing thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Landscape. I like looking around and I like how each country has a different landscape. Bricks, windows, roofs are awesome. I draw them and I dream about living there.
If you were a bird, what kind would you be?
A crow. They are big, black and smart creatures.
Thank you Shu for sharing your world!
If you happen to live in NYC, you can see more of Shu’s work at the Parson’s Illustration Senior Show, Art TK for one night only on May 11th. Incidentally, the website for the show is designed by Shu . . . did we mention she’s a web designer too? Also featured in Art TK, Anastasia Mouyis.