music journalist since 1992 | educator since 2004 | podcaster since 2020 | Iranian American since birth
Miki Amano interviewed for Venus Zine:
Miki Amano: Unseen Strength
This Japanese-born, Big Apple-schooled illustrator draws on the unseen strength of women
By Lily Moayeri
Published: October 26th, 2007 | 10:27am
Miki Amano draws females you wish you were. These ladies are retro in a ultra-stylish vintage way, yet modern in a savvy street-wise way. They have the best hair, the best clothes, the best poses, and best of all, the greatest facial expressions. Amano’s group of girls has found itself accompanying articles in cutting-edge magazines next to stories about the empowerment of women, or decorating the print of unique textiles for one-of-a-kind fashion designs, or as characters for the most elegant comic books you have ever seen.
“I like to draw cute, forlorn, and independent women,” says Amano. “Usually this combination of qualities in a female goes unseen, that’s why I find creating these images particularly satisfying. I believe these qualities in my girls are part of [every female].”
The 28-year-old Japanese-born, and current resident of Tokyo, spent her teen and college years on the East Coast. Originally living in Connecticut and Massachusetts, Amano ended up in New York City at the Parsons School of Design where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in illustration. For two years post-graduation, Amano worked as a freelance illustrator and textile designer in Manhattan.
Her illustrations have found their way into internationally renowned fashion magazines while her editorial attempts have been commissioned by the likes of Random House. Her designs, which range from book and album covers to logos, flyers, posters, stationary, packaging, and beyond, are colorful, detailed, and whimsical in their impressionable nature. They capture the imagination while focusing on the message of the product. Her creations have been part of group exhibitions across the United States at numerous galleries as well as at Salone del Mobile in Milan, and her textiles have global distribution being featured in high-end shops such as Harvey Nicholas in the United Kingdom, Mitshukoshi in Japan, Biffi in Italy, and Fred Segal stateside.
“I usually get commissions with themes,” says Amano of her textiles. “Some vague requests like ‘springy’ or ‘happy’ or ‘draw something that represents Venus In Love.’ But once in a while I get clients who say, ‘Just draw whatever you like,’ and that’s when I do my best job, which is probably selfish as a textile designer but I have been pretty blessed with good clients who are willing to trust me.
She continues, “I don’t think textiles should be too personalized, but I look around and find too many non-representative works out there. I always try to have my textiles have some meaning or stories behind them — whether it is shown or secret. I think it is more fun and special that way.”
Fashion and philosophy, traveling and poetry, design with a world consciousness at its heart and sad music are the sources of inspiration for Amano. According to her Sesame Street personality test, the self-confessed comic geek is Oscar The Grouch, although nothing about her work is representative of this classification, the flea market/shopping/family attic forager has an incurable junk collection that is very Oscar The Grouch-like.
“I haven’t watched enough Sesame Street to be overly excited about this result, but Oscar is my favorite character,” Amano offers. “I do like collecting junk. The more worthless it is, the more attached I become. I used to not be able to throw things away. My room was delicately complicated looking at that time. Now I have learned how to clean up — but I still have tendencies to fill up my space with the stuff I love.”