Instagram: @marisamidori

1. What’s your story? Where are you from?

I grew up in the suburbs of Vancouver where I remember spending most of my childhood drawing. My dad was a long-haul truck driver and part of his deliveries involved rolls of paper. His clients would give him the leftover ends of these huge rolls of paper to bring home to me for drawing! Later, I went to an arts-focused high school that really helped push me to the next level. I remember being a bit shocked transitioning from being the art kid at my elementary school to being in a place where everyone was the art kid! One of my best friends now was in my high school art class and I remember admiring what an amazing artist she was before we became friends. Currently, I live in Milwaukee, WI where I work as a product designer and freelance illustrator.


2. Tell us about your aesthetic.

I always like my work to have a strong textural element to it. I use a lot of painted and printed textures that I’ve created and scanned to help my work look more hand made. I love playing with fun colour palettes and especially purple. If I’m not liking how an illustration is looking, I take a step back and usually conclude, “Needs more purple”.

3. What is your favourite medium and why?

Digital is my favourite way to work but I incorporate a lot of hand-created lines and textures to keep it looking a bit traditional. I love the flexibility and speed that I can work digitally. I recently got an iPad and have been enjoying learning Procreate!

4. What is your artistic process like?

For client work, I start with a lot of research. I love that freelance projects often ask me to illustrate new places or cultures so I spend a lot of time wandering around on google maps, looking up travel videos, and even checking out location hashtags on Instagram. From there, I’ll sketch out 4โ€“5 ideas and then work overtop of the chosen sketch in Photoshop. For personal work, I usually work a lot more loosely and experimentally. There’s a lot of time spent on the back-end of projects adjusting composition and colours. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes I wish I’d done a bit more planning at the beginning!

5. Who and/or what inspires your work?

I take a lot of inspiration from everyday things like buildings or plants. My eye is really drawn to interesting textures like rusty metal building siding or leaf patterns; details like a wrought-iron balcony railing or lace trim might find their way into my work as linework later! Other creative works like film, dance, and fashion are also things that greatly inspire me. I also am lucky to have so many wonderful creative friends that inspire me every day.

6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?

Art has played such a strong role in my life since I was a child. My grandfather worked as a sign painter in Vancouver before taking up watercolour painting later in life; my parents’ home is filled with his paintings. My mother is also a textile artist and I remember being fascinated by all of the materials that she had in her studio. I think that art helps me to be more observant of the world. I love just being a passenger in a car or on a train and watching the world pass by.


7. Where did you study?

I studied illustration and graphic design at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.

8. Where do you see yourself in five years?

I hope that in five years I am supporting myself completely through freelance illustration work and continuing to meet wonderful creative people that inspire me. I’ve also been trying to think of ways to use my art to support more causes that are meaningful to me whether that be monetarily or to raise awareness so I hope that I’ve found a good way to contribute to some of these in five years time.

9. What about in ten?

If I am still finding new ways to grow my creative practice in ten years then I will consider myself a happy person.

10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?

My favourite things to draw are everyday objects. If my illustrations make someone stop and reconsider something they would usually pass by and think of as mundane then that brings me joy.


11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?

For everyday food, I love a kale salad with lemon tahini dressing. It sounds so boring but I love it so much and eat this nearly every day. “Is it possible to eat too much kale?” is something that I have googled. For something more indulgent, my favourite is ramen!

12. Favourite book?

I can’t pick a favourite so I’ll say top three in no particular order would be All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, and Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel. I love stories that bounce between different characters and timelines.

13. Favourite genre of music?

My roommate in college once joked that I like “dying goose music”. Things with crunchy instrumentals like Colin Stetson or Moon Hooch. For every day, I like more upbeat music like old jazz/big band or kpop and when I’m trying to focus I like to listen to film scores.

14. What are your hobbies?

Language study has been my main hobby for the past year. I’m learning Korean and Japanese and I love how studying other languages makes you notice all of the nonsensical things about the English language. I also love reading, crossword puzzles, baking, and hiking. I’m currently writing this while waiting for the dough to rise for my first loaf of bread that I’ve baked since I made some failure loaves in college. Wish me luck!

15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

I like to think that I’d be a marine biologist but I think the more realistic answer is something in publishing.