Asian Artists: lines & dots

clockwise: Kunie Kanbara, Minoru, pai, Naoki Yamamoto

clockwise: Kunie Kanbara, Minoru, pai, Naoki Yamamoto

Here I am again! I’m sharing with you colorful happiness on paper~ Lots of pretty, long hair with dozes of elegance and craziness after the cut! 

Instruction: Click on the image to be directed to a tumblr photoset and click on the caption to access the artist’s page.

Kunie Kanbara

Kunie Kanbara, a Kyoto based illustrator, draws colorful and peaceful piece of works with female subjects. Circles and flowers are very prominent in her art, which has a pop feeling. She prefers to express herself with minimalism most of the time, thus there are no busy backgrounds- just black and white or a single pastel color. Kanbara’s girls are very expressive either through their flowing highlighted hair or through their body position, with a special attention to the neck. Looking at her work one can feel happy and revitalized. You really get the urge to sing or whistle a tune. They reflect with honesty their creator’s carefreeness and love for the present.

She has worked on many CD covers especially for orange pekoe. Kanbara has designed a personal newspaper over at her site, but unfortunately it’s only in Japanese up till now. In an interview she said she intents to make illustrations based on these episodes of her life. Her latest works include some maiko/geisha girls.

Naoki Yamamoto

Naoki Yamamoto’s works look a lot like Kanbara’s but they are much more filled with details and use a variety of colors, pastels, vibrant and muted ones all in the same piece. His themes vary and his fashion sense includes both traditional japanese and modern western clothes as well as lingerie. He has experimented on series like tarot cards. Art nouveau has certainly influenced him. The women he draws are edgier than Kanbara’s and aren’t afraid to show off some skin, so procede with caution when you view his portfolio. He himself claims that his female subjects are ideal women, whom a man wants and a woman admires. Occasionally a few men may appear in his illustratons.

Yamamoto is a very prolific illustrator who has participated in many exhibitions and has won awards. His illustrations may adorn CD covers, leaflets and websites while they are used in advertisements. He can also accept commissions for wedding invitations and videos.


Minoru’s artworks are a fancy quilt: stripes and dots, flowers shaped from ‘lace’ and fish scales, leaves, petals and wings, typography, animals and girls, all patchworked together. If Kanbara’s pieces make you sing, Minoru’s make you wanna dance. They are looney in an elegant way, a surreal trip to Wonderland. They burst with color and life. I discover something new every time I look at them. It’s really hard to take your eyes off of them. I dare say Minoru is a modern and whimsical japanese Klimt.

She has taken part in a few competitions and won prizes. She has her own online shop, where you can buy  pouches, mug cups, pensil cases and post cards featuring her designs. Other products like watches and calendars also have had her work. Illustrations of hers have been hosted in the front cover of literary magazines, educational booklets and CDs.


Pai (real name: Odaka Kozue) is the naughtiest and moe-est illustrator out of these four. She appears to have an infatuation for long, flowing hair, delicate hands and feet. Pai also seems to love fashion and ‘dresses’ her girls in different clothes, and usually that means school uniforms and lingerie. Each piece of hers looks like a photoshoot with a lot of girls in different poses flooding the page. Another quirk of hers is putting the name/theme of her work on it. Her illustrations bear a freshness and distinct playfulness which make them very attractive.

Pai is the newbie of the bunch. She has only 2 exhibitions in her CV that took place just this year. She knows how to deal with animation, too, as her graduation thesis proves. She has created illustrations as headers for a website and works hard towards her recognition as the above effort for a STARBUCKS advertisement shows. She managed to be featured in a japanese magazine on new illustrators.


7 thoughts on “Asian Artists: lines & dots

  1. Although, when it comes to the richness and textures of lines they do seem to remind me of the ukiyo-e style. Namely, it reminds me of some of Utamaro Kitagawa's work. But then again, you are right, it is more Art nouveau than anything else. Strikingly similar to Alfons Mucha. The last one by Pai reminds me of the artwork and style of Tatami Galaxy. I am pretty sure that might not been the influence, but still bears a close resemblance of the style.


  2. Yeah, yeah you're right! Cultural influences go full circle! I couldn't say though that his influences were ukiyo-e artblocks since art nouveau is way more intricate, features different motives and was created in different way.


  3. You already mentioned the art nouveau connection with Yamamoto. It's interesting that Yamamoto has that as an influence, because woodblock prints influenced art nouveau. The art movement's direct predecessor was Japonisme, which artists like Van Gogh participated in.


  4. It certainly is! And what's most amazing is how these colors tie with each other harmonically without causing you sore eyes 🙂


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