An interview with Wakana Yamazaki, TLB33 cover/feature artist


To celebrate the amazing cover artwork for The Lifted Brow #33, our tenth birthday edition, our Art Editors Bailey Sharp and Ben Juers chatted through a translator with Tokyo-based illustrator Wakana Yamazaki.

You can purchase The Lifted Brow #33 here.

The Lifted Brow: Something I really like about your work is you have this very fluid way of drawing but there seems to be a lot of control in the way you compose images. What’s your process like?

Wakana Yamazaki: I start off by deciding on a theme, which I use as a base to just come up with as many ideas and compositions as I can. Once that’s done, I draw up a pencil draft of the best idea, trace it with a ballpoint pen, scan it and finally use Photoshop to colour it.

TLB: Did it take you a while to arrive at your style or is it naturally how you draw?

WY: My style’s been like this since I started illustrating. I’ve always loved working on line drawings, so I guess that naturally led me to take up the style I have today.

TLB: You’ve worked across illustration, comics, T-shirt design, ceramics and several other mediums. Is there anything you haven’t tried yet but would like to?

WY: I haven’t done much work on large-scale pieces, so I’d love to do a big painting or installation. Oh, and I’d like to try my hand at animation.

TLB: I saw your post about selling some of your comics at the Tokyo Art Book Fair last year. Here in Australia we have a small but vibrant zine scene with an even smaller art-comics scene squeezed inside of it. What’s the scene like in Japan and where would you place yourself in that context?

WY: Even Japan has an established zine scene, and there are plenty of stores and events dealing with zines. A lot of events have them sorted into categories – manga comics, art, photography, literature and so on. My comics are different from the manga style that’s common in Japan, so I sell them as ‘art that tells a story’.

TLB: What would be your ideal working life as an artist?

WY: Well, I’m an illustrator, so ideally I’d do illustration work – ads, character designs, that sort of thing – while also making comics and original artworks.

TLB: If your art was a genre of music what would it be?

WY: I’ve noticed that a lot of people who are fans of my art either make hip-hop music or just love listening to it, so I figure it’d probably be hip-hop.

Wakana Yamazaki is a freelance illustrator based Tokyo, Japan. Wakana’s work has been used for adverts, and publication, website, comics, fashion.

Thank you to Annie Yang, James McBride and Lola Sundin for their help in translating this interview with Wakana.