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Interview: Pinkerton Print Artist Fuco Ueda

On May 17, 2016

If you're a member, by now, you should have started receiving your copies of Pinkerton. In that package, you'll find a print by an incredible Japanese artist named Fuco Ueda. We talked to Fuco--via a translator--about her art and the print. 

VMP: If you could, I’d love to know a bit about how you got your start as an artist and who some of your first inspirations were. Was there a particular artist or style that first inspired you?

Fuco Ueda: I studied fine arts and design while I was in High School and University. However, my biggest influences originated when I became familiar with Modern Japanese Literature and manga during my early teenage years. I was particularly inspired by the numerous Japanese female manga artists who reformed the manga scene aimed at young girls in the 1970’s. In a period of time where there was still a considerable predominance of men over women, those were philosophical manga that analyzed the burden of the society from different angles and solaced young girls and women. These artists were people such as Moto Hagio, Jun Mihara, Yumiko Oshima, and Yoshino Sakumi, who is a slightly younger artist. The influence from the variety of artists which impacted me at such an impressionable age is something that I will carry with me for rest of my life. I learned a quite variety of things at that time, which are still at the core of my work even to this day.

When did you first being thinking of yourself as an artist rather than someone who makes art, if that distinction makes sense?

The moment at which I felt that I was an artist dawned upon me when I met a young artist who said they were influenced by my work.

What are some of the major themes of your work? Are there certain questions or issues that you find yourself wrestling with through your work consistently?

Culture is quite like a piece of fabric. It surpasses over all sorts of people and generations while influencing the formation of culture in joining history together. You can actually feel the connection. In addition to the creation of art itself, one thing I hold dear is the idea of not trusting yourself. Even the slightest amount of doubt or feeling that something is out of place in my everyday routine is something that I value quite highly.

What are some of your favorite pieces? Would you mind talking to us a little bit about each of them?

It’s tremendously difficult for me to present a piece of work that I am really pleased with as I’m constantly striving to create art that I can appreciate. With that said, I always keep the early pieces of work from my series during my schooldays conscious in my mind so that I never forget my original intention.

What inspired the print that was used with the Pinkerton album release? Any important stories you’d like to tell us around that piece?

While I produced this piece of work when I was 20 years old, I actually began drawing it when I was about 12. It was originally going to be a short story, however, I couldn’t gain any traction and after countless attempts, I eventually gave up. It finally took shape when I turned 20. At that moment, the embodiment my 20-year- old self’s artistic ability aligned with the vision and spirit of my 12-year- old self, creating an inexplicable scenario in which I was able to move forward on the production. Even though that type of thing rarely occurs, it’s an experience that I draw encouragement from, even still to this day. This current album art is a piece of work that extends from a recent series capturing the consciousness of “Death.” Flames are born from the mouth of a woman who has crossed to the other side while ashen butterflies, illuminated by the flames, are then colored and brilliantly emerge.

Lastly, what sort of music are you listening to these days? Any specific artists that we should check out?

Recently, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack from an old film by Burt Bacharach as it puts me in a good mood. I also often enjoy listening to the soundtrack from Director Wim Wender’s film called Pina. For Japanese musicians, I typically listen to many of the albums by Susumu Hirasawa, Takagi Masakatsu and Shutoku Mukai.

Translation credit: Dan Martin |



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