Kaori, where did the name Sleepless Kao come from?
It's because I don't sleep much and I really like to make art late at night when most people have gone to bed; and my nickname is Kao. Don't worry though, I catch up on my sleep in the mornings!
What gives you inspiration for your drawings?
Usually, there will be a sudden warm feeling that begins in my body, near my heart. Things will pop up, and if I have pens and paper close by, I will start to doodle. Often I will see a beautiful pattern and color composition in nature, and that will be the inspiration. Old songs from my past with nice associations can also be inspiration, like Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over," because that is from my generation.
When did you start creating artwork, and how has it evolved over time?
I started drawing at 3 years old - pen and paper first. Jumping ahead to arts school, I moved toward the computer and drawing things realistically in the various foundation classes. After graduating however, I took what I learned from the life drawing and theory classes, and brought that back into a traditional kawaii Japanese style which I love.
How do you make the prints, like the ones we sell at Paper-Ya?
I make my prints two different ways - one is silkscreen, and the other is digitally by using design programs like Illustrator and Photoshop on my Mac computer.
What's one piece of advice for those wanting to start creating and selling their own artwork?
I think it is good to be aware of whom you are creating for. It is quite rare to meet someone who is doing exactly what they want and making a living with their art. Usually, there are external demands from a client or influences from the general public at large. For example, when I am asked to create some promotional material, like a poster or a logo, I think of myself as a designer for hire and will happily receive artistic direction. If the client does not like a drawing, it does not affect my ego, and there is no conflict. However, when I am preparing for a solo or group show, I present artwork that is solely from my point of view. I think the sooner an artist can come to terms with how much they are willing to please people, the better. Making sure that I make time for my own personal projects really replenishes the well, so when I am required to manifest someone else's vision, I have the capacity to let go of my artistic preferences.
Thanks so much to Kaori for these wonderful answers. Paper-Ya loves carrying the Sleepless Kao prints in our store!