Please scroll down to read Tomoko's bio and artist statement. To see her collection, <click here>
(The following interview took place in June 2020)
Kobo: Buddhism is central to your life. How does it shape and inform your artistic practice?
Tomoko: My daily practice helps me to believe in myself and my vision, not to give into the negativities, helps me see the beauty in life’s struggles and turn that into art. It also keeps me focused and balanced. I am a Boddhisattva stripped bare, I still have something to give.
K: You've referenced Chubbies in your work as reflective of the Bodhisattva. What made you focus on this particular form?
T: I love abstraction. During my art school days, I tended to focus on lines and shapes that were round and organic. Drawing from my love of figurative drawings, I came up with round figurative forms that described the state of my emotions and life conditions more honestly and directly.
K: As the Chubbies go to new homes, do you have any hopes for what they bring to their new environments?
T: I hope for my art to be a reminder of joy and humor in a human being.
K: What is the most fulfilling thing about being an artist? What do you like most about making?
T: The creative process in itself is something that is essential to my life. It’s a bit like doing yoga. I am okay if I don’t do yoga, but when I do, I feel rejuvenated and powerful. Making art makes me feel powerful, like I have everything I need right where I am, just the way I am. Being an artist makes me unique. It gives me something to be proud of. Being able to make art each day give me a sense of mission, sense of my place in society, sense of contribution to the world.
K: What is the most challenging? When you reach a difficult point in the creative process, what compels you to continue?
T: It is challenging to take myself seriously as an artist at times. I go back to my Buddhist practice of chanting, reminding myself of the vow I made during my art school to become an artist who can inspire hope through my art. I talk to other artists. I take a walk in the woods.
K: What goals do you have for the future?
T: My short term goal is to expand my studio for both printmaking and clay processes. My long term goal is to provide free art lessons in local communities.
Tomoko's stoneware pieces are one-of-a-kind. She also has limited edition monoprints printed with Lynda Sherman + Bremelo Press, in Seattle, WA.. Check our Art & Craft section to see what is available for purchase. We love Tomoko's work and hope you do too.
More about Tomoko:
Tomoko Suzuki was born and raised in Japan. She moved to the United States after graduating high school to study English as she searched for something she could feel passionate about and pursue as a career. Printmaking was her first love in the Arts. She received an MFA in Printmaking from California State University in Long Beach. Despite her academic accomplishments, her path in her art career has been a narrow and winding road. She pressed on as an artist while raising her family and eventually moving to Washington State. Fortunately, Tomoko encountered KOBO where many of her new works are currently displayed and sold.
You will recognize her chubby and full of life figures as her main subject in her sculpture and her prints. These figures and their environment are inspired by her Buddhist practice.