I have loved drawing since I was young. I always felt uncomfortable with school drawing topics that were already set and calligraphy classes that restricted free thinking. I would have loved homeworks that let me draw whatever I liked, whenever I liked. After that, I have half jokingly written down all the characters (e.g. kanji) and drawings that came across my mind.
Winter of 2007, my eyes caught sight of an advertisement on a design calligraphy class and an indescribable surge of excitement overcame me as I signed up without hesitation. I was drawn to the lack of specific methods and shapes, as characters were designed through the interpretation of different products, and I felt old memories beginning resurface.
“Free shapes,” “free expressions,” it felt like art. Focusing on ideas, intervals, and space, I was absorbed in and obsessed with design calligraphy. When I found the time, I eagerly created and shared my artworks through social media. I started receiving requests for name boards and through friends some people asked for welcome boards.
These moments were special conversations with my honest self and became an important part of my life.
In 2013, I experienced an incident that changed my life stage.
Similar to the changing seasons and generations, each person experiences themes or stages at different moments in their life. If life was a voyage, it was like being stranded on the first land you reached.
Race, words, laws, everything seems to live in a different place now.
I was diagnosed with an eye problem.
It is an illness that makes it hard to see in the dark (night-blindness), narrows the field of vision, and potentially causes a complete loss in eyesight. When I received the test results, my knees trembled with fear, and I completely lost control of all feelings and expressions. Even to this day, when I close my eyes, I am reminded of the shock and perplexity I felt on that day.
The “present” in the future will become the “past,” and the “future” becomes the “present.” Yet, I was definitely taken down by this incident.
There is no method of treatment for this illness, but art calligraphy gave me a reason to “live together” and focus a new life goal to get back on my feet.
I buried myself in art calligraphy, which always took me a step away from reality and gave my heart a place to relax. Like the moment I put some paints on the palette I liked when I used to draw, I neatly prepared my brush on the suzuri (inkstone) and placed the brush on the washi paper (Japanese paper) according to my image. The sense of resistance unique to the washi paper and the scent of sumi (calligraphy ink) captured the special moment with my honest self. The joys of being able to share the artworks that I poured my everything into. There exists a heart-to-heart conversation between people that break language barriers. Being able to join such a scene, I felt happiness for everything I have achieved. Around that time, I began thinking about making design calligraphy a career option. When responses overseas started becoming more better than within the country, I came across JCAT and started my full-scale art activities. It was not simply about writing characters, but “what meaning is behind this character?” “what can be told from this character?” “what is the significance of this character?” It is about expressing beyond the character’s meaning. Instead of focusing on the sumi and washi paper, I continue to search for the opposite expression method for the meaning of characters.
Sometimes, instead of thinking, let the excitement you feel in your heart and soul and the inspirations guide you…Also, instead of focusing on symbols such as characters, be able to express the hard-to-explain abstract concepts in words. Much like smiling at their children’s picture, the artwork should express one’s thoughts and bestow hope and light to those who see it.
A new stage is different from past stages, so it requires a different way of thinking and method of approach.
My turning point was my illness, but it is also necessary to drastically change methods and ways of thinking by letting go of the surrounding things. At this moment, I am directing strong emotions, such as sorrow, joy, love, hate, and desire towards art calligraphy, and want to continue thinking about it during my creations. Past experiences, education, and preconceptions create my way of thinking, and the bad habits and threats accompanying it are things I cannot lose to. When I was faced with a cross road I asked myself, “why me…the despair.” However, when my dreams and goals became clear to me, I was “ready” to confront my illness and my heart felt a sense of closure and tranquility.
Never give up and keep challenging yourself against the high wall. Through design calligraphy, I will continue cherishing the people I meet and work diligently.