Rumi is an illustrator and comic artist from Japan, currently based in New York City. She was awarded a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators in New York in 2015.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I am an illustrator and comic artist. I was born in Kyoto, Japan, studied illustration in Savannah, GA. Now I live in New York City. I print and bind many of my little comic books myself, so I am a bit of a bookmaker too. I like hiking and traveling, and this summer I came face to face with a boar on a trail.
How has living in NYC affected your work? I get a lot of inspirations from people around me, even just by eavesdropping on a bus. It’s fun to listen to conversations between people with totally different backgrounds. I also try to go to performances, exhibitions, and other events as much as I can. There is always something new and experimental happening around the city. I think being surrounded by all this energy has encouraged me to draw in a more spontaneous way and develop stories that share something about myself and where I come from. At the same time, I feel that resting or doing something that is seemingly unproductive is not respected in NYC. I have been thinking a lot about the value of simple living and the importance of sleep and rest since I moved here. I often do get new ideas for my work while I’m taking a nap.What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Biology and the animal world. When I learn something new about an animal, I want to make a comic or a drawing about it. I read recently that bats turn around when they pee so that they won’t get dirty and then hang upside down again when they’re done, but they don’t seem to mind about the other bats getting peed all over them. This kind of information is fun and also lets you relate to the animals better.What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I am working on a second episode of my recent comic Nori and the Bats in the House. It’s a story about a little girl who starts her adventure of becoming a juvenile biologist through a mysterious experience with bats.
Favorite pizza topping? Pepperoni, onions and garlic.
If you could go back to a different time period, which would you choose? 1960s. To see how my grandmothers were living when they were my age.
How long have you lived in NYC and what brought you there? I have lived in NYC since 2014. I graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design with an MFA in illustration that year and I wanted to live in a city where many illustration and art-related events take place.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after experiencing your work? I am interested in creating stories that blend surreal experience with everyday life. I especially like to explore the themes of landscape and memory, how human and non-human memories make a place special and how they interact with our current lives. I hope my work would be something like a dream to a viewer. You definitely experienced it and it transformed you in a way, but it disappears without trace when you wake up to your reality. You can always figure out how it transformed you if you remember it afterwards.
What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? Somewhere warm and close to the ocean.
What are you really excited about right now? The weather! Fall is the best season in New York.