Yoshimi Ohtani

- Sakura Bloom at the Tip of Pen -

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After graduating trade school, I did web design for about a year. I also got married and had a kid.

At school, I studied web designing through the perspective of marketing.

I started to illustrate seriously around 2005, after my kid had gotten a bit bigger.

I say “seriously,” but really it consisted of little things like updating my blog, drawing illustrations on greeting cards… simple things, you know? Just floating by…

And because I had a kid, I was a bit worried about sticking to analog illustrations. So, I started to use a computer.

One day, a company called Shinkigen gave me a chance to participate in their “Doujin Magazine CG Technique Improvement Plan.”

To be honest, I just thought of it as a potentially memorable experience. But through this project, I actually was able to learn a lot about how to use Illustrator.

When I posted about this on my blog, I got a huge response…

I used to just accept jobs that were offered to me. That was my working style.

I never considered illustrating as a day job, if anything I thought I would do it on a part time basis.

But in 2008, I determined to raise my flag and be a full-fledged “Illustrator.”

Many people tell me that my work is very unique. For me though, that’s the only way I can design!

Illustrators who are able to work with various types of designs have much more stable job prospects than those who only work with one type of “unique” style like myself.

So I thought I needed to become something close to an “author,” in addition to being an illustrator. This way, people wouldn’t get bored with me too quickly.

But if I was going to become an author, I wanted to do it as efficiently as possible.

Back then, exhibitions held by groups of illustrators were slowly becoming more and more common.

Don’t I need to create my own brand image?? Don’t I need to be more proactive?? Is it going to be an art?? No, no… maybe something between art and illustration.

I moved on, all the way questioning myself over and over again. CG is accepted now-a-days but times were different back then. Back then, everyone thought it was impossible to hold an exhibition in Ginza.

Thanks to my good luck and good times, I was able to hold my own exhibition in Brooklyn, NY in July, 2008.

Don’t I need to be more proactive?? I made it happen. I held my 1st exhibition!!

Now I’m focused mainly on the following: creating works highlighting female figures exclusively, with the purpose of expanding this type of illustration (done through my project, Blue Roses);

ninja*arts, a project for members to increase their exposure overseas;

and of course, Sakura Exhibition.

Sakura Exhibition’s purpose is to let the world know more about creators working in Japan.

This project is working very successfully and getting a lot of great feedback. It is held not only in Japan, but also in the US, UK, Portugal, Holland, Vietnam, and Thailand.

I’ve been active in Sakura Exhibition from 2009 through 2014, and it’ll be my 6th time this year. I feel like it’s received so much recognition, especially from the foreign crowd, and that makes me very happy.

*You can see Sakura Exhibition’s Facebook page here.

Instead of thinking about it too much, I feel like it’s more with the times to put myself out there for everyone to see.

Well, it depends on the creators / illustrators specialty…

Thanks to the internet, it is becoming difficult to see a distinction between professionals and amateurs now-a-days.

Illustrators with weak personalities but a sense of veracity who can design across multiple genres will be easily replaced by young up-and-comers who charge less and have more tenacity.

What you need to do is to find a design that has strong individuality. That, or make your work something that no one else can reproduce.

Nowadays, I think one reason that you can get job offers is because no other people can design like you.

For me, I think about making my fans happy before anything else. Without them, I cannot work as an illustrator.

When you’re asked to take care of some downloaded contents, companies will often offer you a fee.

Of course, this is business: if you get a lot of downloads and inquiries, you will get a job again. On the other hand, your opportunity ends.

The number of people who “like” your work on social networks: this figure also helps you explain yourself. And of course, it also makes you feel confident.

To my fans: you’ve always been supportive. Thank you very much.

From our Editor

Interviewed on April, 2014.

Once you see, you’ll never forget OHTANI YOSHIMI’s work. A reporter said…

“I had a very productive time talking with her. “

The reporter got enormously nervous at the beginning of the interview, but as he listened to her soft and gentle voice, it was only a matter of time until he became very comfortable (but that’s between you and me!!!).

The sokubaikai (art exhibition and sales events) Yoshimi Ohtani often participates are Comic Market and COMITIA.

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