An Artful Life: Kahori Maki

Born in Japan 1961, Kahori Maki is an acclaimed artist/designer, having produced many works in various disciplines including illustration, installation, painting, graphic design, and object design.  Working as an active freelancer since 1994, Maki has collaborated with leading brands and companies such as Designworks, Shiseido, Levi’s and McDonalds.

In addition, Maki has been working on Solo exhibitions and her works have featured in numerous fashion and design magazines.  Her un-mistaking recognisable style is seen extensively in posters, commercial advertising, window displays, interior walls of buildings, fashion shoot back drops, textile prints and even on cars. This month, Maki’s work covered the walls of an entire warehouse for an audio-visual event in Brooklyn.

Maki’s stylised imagery, regardless of where she features it, is striking and tends to provoke mystery with its edgy, dark, fluid and organic forms. Her designs depict nature in its beautiful power and seductiveness, portraying the exotic and the eerie.  Maki’s designs are always nature inspired, but her signature monochromatic illustrations are far from traditional depictions of nature.

(Maki is) one of the first fashion illustrators to identify the dramatic impact of the natural forms through dark monochromes rather than the more traditional soft pastels

Furthermore, Maki juxtaposes her work by placing it in the extreme urban environment or context – factoring in her philosophical concept of how urban life is deficient of nature.  A concept marvellously complimented by the surreal and dark moody nature of her work, portraying her deep connection to the less desired aspects of nature.

I am not afraid of looking into the shadows and shedding light on the beautiful creatures that live in the twilight worlds

Maki talks about connecting the aspects of nature to a part of the human soul, and I interpret her work as an expression of the depth and mystery contained therein. I find myself also connecting this quote above to the human soul, and what may lay within the darkest corners. I too, am not afraid of looking into the shadows of my own soul and shedding light on what may be there. What beauty and treasures are still yet to be discovered?

Finally, I am inspired by Maki’s love of nature and the darkness of it that some may find oppressive or grotesque. Many of her works convey to me the idea of portals into other worlds. She expresses the melancholic with such elegance; one cannot help but be allured into the realms of swirling, meandering lines and forms.

The work of Maki has influenced my current project significantly. I have drawn upon her concept of combining animal and insect life with fauna and flora, and placed the bold outlines of them in a perfectly random occurring pattern.  This research has led me to have confidence in taking an organic and bold approach to pattern, and I have explored and developed numerous possibilities for an outcome in this brief, of which I hope to experiment with further in the future. For the mean time, lets see how my project for ‘Pattern Universe’ has developed.

Watch this space.


IdN. Wayfinding+Signage: Kahori Maki. IdN , v17 (n5), 56-57.

Maki, K. (2010). Works. Retrieved May 28, 2013, from Kahori Maki:

Quinn, B. (2009). Textile Designers: At the Cutting Edge. London, UK: Lawrence King Publishing.


An Artful Life – Aya Kakeda

My first impressions of New York’s Aya Kakeda’s work was the intrigue I felt looking at hybrid creations of paper cutting, embroidery, illustration and lace work. I came across her featured in a ‘Young Guns’ article in The Magazine of Contemporary Illustration, and then she popped up again in one of my recent reads ‘By Hand: the use of craft in contemporary art’.  What inspires me about Aya is her narrative and her use of various media including silkscreen, illustration and embroidery, that best portray her storytelling. Whether plainly obvious or more subtle her stories consist of fairytale worlds that are sometimes super cute and sweet, and also in contrast with very violent and creepy themes – like that of the Indie Craft movement.  Aya Kakeda has a love of making books especially with silly stories and characters serving as the purpose to convey metaphorical and experiential topics. Both her use of mixed media and her tendency towards handcrafted and ‘Indie’ art, inspire me to explore how my own experience with textiles and handcrafts can lead me down a similar path in being a creative practitioner.


Hung, S & Magliaro, J. (eds.). (2007). By Hand: the Use of Craft in Contemporary Art .

The Magazine of Contemporary Illustration. (n.d). Young Guns: Spotlight No.1. Aya Kakeda. Vol:7. No:2. Issue#20

The Indie Craft Movement

Artists and crafters on a global scale are producing works of art combining traditional craft techniques with modern, off beat and unconventional styles, contexts and subject matters. The culture that has risen from this need for crafters to walk to the beat of their own drum is ‘Indie Craft’. Primarily developed by online community in 2006 in America, members now meet from all over the world to discuss and raise awareness on the creation of contemporary art with traditional craft disciplines.

As a crafter myself I have found it difficult to define the lines between art and craft, and I am motivated by various makers in the Indie Craft Movement to take the step into becoming a ‘craft artist’.  Having never really enjoyed the old fashioned results of the crafts taught to me when I was young, the subversive subject matter appeals to my non-conforming nature. I feel akin to the alternative culture that accepts and encourages individuals to make work that expresses their unique viewpoint on the world.

Many indie crafters/artists utilise textiles, vintage and recycled materials and objects to make their work – lessening the impact on the environment and also as a reaction to the mass production and mass consumer culture of modern society.  For many years I have been making and successfully selling up-cycled handmade crafts and apparel.  I find a sense of fulfillment when working with found materials and objects, knowing that I am bringing something back from the past, and giving it a purpose in art, which will hopefully be appreciated in a new way.  If not appreciated for arts sake, then at least evoke thoughts in others.

Researching the Indie Craft Movement has reignited my love for fibre art and crafts of my past.  I found myself in the battling thoughts of whether craft could be considered as art (a dilemma that is still healthily debated today) and whether I wanted to be associated as this type of creative practitioner. I am so enthused and inspired by the many talented contemporary artists, designers and crafters in this movement, that I find myself wanting to explore it further with my own hands. This gallery features Rowena Dring, Kirsten Hassenfeld, Rob Wynne, Joetta Maue, Shauna Richardson and Kako Ueda all Crafters, Artists and/or designers who I am personally inspired by or resonate with in some way whether its their media used or they approach to art.


Heyenga, L. (2011). Paper Cutting Book: Contemporary Artists. San Francisco, CA, United States of America: Cronicle Books.

Hung, S & Magliaro, J. (eds.). (2007). By Hand: the Use of Craft in Contemporary Art .

Levine, F & Heimerl, C. (2008). Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

Maue, J. (2011) Joetta Maue: mixedmediaindex. Image Retrieved from http:/

Waterhouse, J. (2010). Indie Craft. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.

Wynne, R. (2004). Rob Wynne: Recent Works. Image Retrieved from