Illustrator Yoko Hasegawa uses a unique technique to create her resplendent, colourful collages. Traditional kimono fabric, beads, sequins, tickets, old paper items and nail varnish all find their way into her work, making each individual piece a magpie’s dream come true. Her practice is fuelled by an interest in capturing “dreamy and private emotions”. She was also the first illustrator to have her work featured on Saint Laurent cosmetics packaging in Japan. In today’s Q&A, we quiz her about her special method of creating collages.

How do you assemble your chosen materials to make your collages?

The materials vary from project to project. Usually I start out with a rough sketch using pencils and colour pencils. Then I fit materials into the different parts of the sketch, and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that the composition is well balanced. After I complete this process, a photographer takes pictures of my work. 

Do you sew the beads and bits and bobs onto your collages?

Actually I don’t sew! When I first started out, my work was mainly all acrylic gouaches. For some reason, though, and this technique never really sat very well with me, and I felt like I couldn’t produce the images in my head. In addition, there are already a lot of great Japanese illustrators who use gouache, and I felt like I needed to stand out if I wished to attain commercial success. One day I experimented with lace and incorporated it into my work. That was when I felt that this method is really “me”! I really value subtlety and refinement in my practice. For example, whenever I wish to illustrate a person, I hollow out the parts for the eyes, and fill up these hollows with crushed beads. I try hard to make people surprised and inspired when they notice the glittering effect that this technique creates.

Tell us about your latest work for Wacoal, the Japanese lingerie company.

Wacoal commissioned me to create an illustrated calendar following the visual theme “feminine, flexible, healthy”. My illustrations were very much inspired by the poems written by Chie Kato, who is a popular novelist in Japan.

Images courtesy of Yoko Hasegawa.