Artist Series: Eri Wakiyama

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Eri Wakiyama is a visual artist whose prime influences are her private emotions. Born in Japan but raised in Northern California, Wakiyama first arrived in New York — where she is currently working as a visual merchandiser — a decade ago to attend art school. Drawing inspiration from an extensive visual tradition, her sketches have made appearances in fashion retailers around the world as well as on the runway, most recently on Miu Miu’s Spring/Summer ’16 Collection. For the latest addition to our Artist Series, RSVP Gallery interviewed Eri about her creative process and personal interests. You can read the exchange below.


Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
I’m a Japanese illustrator based NY. Raised in NorCal, came to school in NY at Parsons and it’s been 10 years in NY. Currently, work as a Visual Merchandiser/Merchandiser at a shop.

What made you decide you were going to be an artist?
I don’t think I “decided” to become an artist because it was always a part of me. I can’t really live without it.  So, I guess ever since I knew how to hold a crayon. If you mean professionally- this is all very recent.

How do you describe your illustration style/approach?
Simple and complicated. Minimal but lots of unstable line-work. It’s daydream vs real life grime and disappointments.  But also it’s very unforced approach.

What was your inspiration behind the artwork in the Miu Miu Spring 2016 Ready-to-Wear Collection?
There weren’t exactly “inspiration” for the project, except for the fact they wanted to see more flowers amongst other things. The team provided me very little direction so I kind of went with the flow. Honestly, I tried not to think too hard about it and it brought back the best results.

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your creative process?
The biggest influence is my thoughts and my uncontrollable emotions, and being sensitive af. I’m a horrible writer, and I so so want to be able to write my feelings down but for me, drawing works better. Some days I will produce 50+ drawings in one night, and some days I won’t be able to make anything in one single day.

On the other hand, I am influenced by things that interest me on the daily, such as fashion, film, food, music, communities, travel etc.  I can’t avoid those things.

Is your process messy or controlled?

What’s your favorite music to listen to when drawing?
I’m either listening to rap/trap/hip hop or classical/movie scores

What else do you do on the side besides your artwork?
I try to work on side projects with my friends who use other mediums of work.

With my day job and art and squeezing my social life, it leaves very little time for anything else :(

If you could have anyone’s wardrobe, whose would it be?

Favorite brand?
Comme des Garçon


Follow Eri Wakiyama on Tumblr or Instagram