A Japanese newspaper reporter got in touch with me a while ago and told me about their new column called ‘Creator’s Desk @ Artist’s Workplace.’ This column is aimed at teenagers to help them boost their dreams and goals, and they wanted me to appear in their first column. What an honour!
So here is the article published in the newspaper Daily Tohoku, Japan, on the 4th February 2020.
Notes from Editor:
The new column “Creators Desk @Artist’s Workplace” has started. We will introduce the workplaces of creators who live in or are connected to the southern Aomori Prefecture and northern Iwate Prefecture. We will cover novelists, musicians, manga artists and others who are active in various fields. Today’s creator is Noriko Matsubara, a children’s book author & illustrator living in the UK. Take a closer look at the creator’s workplace, where you can see the tools and items used by the artist.
THREE ITEMS ON THE ARTIST’S DESK
ITEM 1: Sketchbooks
“I jot down notes or sketch images whenever they come to mind before I forget them. Not only ideas for children’s books, I also write down things that I notice in everyday life, such as what sort of mischief my children get up to, things that are different in the UK compared to Japan, etc. My sketchbooks help me later when I think of ideas for my projects.”
ITEM 2: Coloured pencils
“These are oil-based coloured pencils I use when drawing illustrations. The characters in my picture book series ‘Bocchi and Pocchi’ are fluffy woollen socks. I tried various art materials to see which medium is the best to give the texture. I liked coloured pencils the best. I tried water-based coloured pencils too but I prefer oil-based as they give more vivid colours.”
ITEM 3: Treasure Map
“This is a treasure map that shows my dreams and goals in pictures and words which I put on a cork board. It’s hung on the wall in front of my desk so I can see it everyday. ‘Treasure Map’ is proposed by writer Toshitaka Mochizuki. He says that by placing a treasure map in a place that you often see every day, you can input your dreams into the subconscious and make it easier to draw to reality. Perhaps my dream of becoming a children’s book author & illustrator has come true thanks to this treasure map!?”
Q. How did you get on the path of a children’s book author?
A. When I was teaching Japanese language in Lebanon, I met art students and got involved in their graduation production. This experience woke my passion and led me to decide to learn art. I started making picture book when I was doing my MA in Fine Art in the UK while my artwork focused on issues surrounding nuclear power. I wanted to create something where I could dream and also give dreams to others.
Q. What do you keep in mind when drawing picture books?
A. First, enjoy myself. Second, look at things from the child’s point of view. Third, don’t include all the ideas, but try to keep them simple.
Q. What are you currently working on?
A. I’m working on my 4th ‘Bocchi and Pocchi’ picture book series, which will be published in the UK later this year. In this story, I have introduced a new character, Baby Sock, modelled after my three-year-old daughter who has been very naughty since she was a baby.
Q. Can you give a message for young people who want to be children’s book authors?
A. Pursue what you love. Express your favourite world. Some people say, “I don’t have the talent.” But I think your talent is in the field that you love. Do what you love and the talent will follow you. You become good at what you love doing – that’s my experience. Even when you can’t open your way with what you are passionate about, if you’re working hard on what is right in front of you, another way will open up. You can live this life only once. Do what you love to do.