The London-based illustrator, originally from Tokyo, was studying at the prestigious Bartlett School of Architecture following the traditional route to becoming an architect. After graduating, she got a job as an architectural assistant at a design company, but it wasn’t quite as planned: “During my studies, I was constantly challenged, advancing my creative skills,” she told Creative Boom. “But the job didn’t make me feel like I was using what I had learned fully. That’s when I discovered illustration and started dedicating everything to it. my free time. I completely fell in love with the art of image making.”
Until then, Yo hadn’t understood that illustration was an option, in terms of work. So she took a postgraduate course at Camberwell College of Art, before becoming a freelance illustrator for brands such as ELLE magazine, the University of Tokyo and NHK, working in publishing, design books, branding and animation.
The aforementioned personal project, 100 Days of Building, was a challenge Yo set herself to reinterpret the architecture of 100 buildings through illustration – much of which she shared about her instagram food. “Because I have studied both creative disciplines, my work often sits at an intersection, exploring themes around spatiality and urban spaces,” she explains. “I love that Illustrations allows me to portray the emotions you might feel in a particular space through the use of color and composition.”
“I love that the buildings can have such different atmospheres,” Yo continues. “Growing up I had the chance to travel to many places and I got to see many different types of architecture all over the world. It’s so interesting to see how architecture can be so It can be as small as a wooden shed, or as large as a historic palace, it can be as open as a house with a courtyard and as closed as a fortress.
“The most memorable experience was when I visited St. Mary’s Cathedral in Tokyo for the first time. It completely took my breath away. The way the light entered the space, the textures all around of you guys and the dynamic curved walls were so punchy I had to sit down and take it all in! Photography in the cathedral isn’t allowed, so I pulled out my little sketchbook and just started to doodling. I really felt the need to capture everything through drawing.”
As part of the project’s theme, Yo wanted to celebrate architecture by female designers: “I love that buildings can be so different around the world, depending on the designer, culture, climate and materials that they use. I wanted the project to reflect that diversity and showcase buildings that may not be as well known around the world,” she says.
Does she have a favorite piece? “Lina Bo Bardi’s glass house. Not only was she a woman architect at a time when it was very diﬃcult, but I also learned a lot while making this piece. Each work is a step forward, and I tries to challenge myself to something new with each. I took a lot of creative freedom to reinterpret its architecture, with the use of color and composition. This definitely marks a turning point in my work.
Elsewhere in her practice, Yo says she draws inspiration from new places, architectures and spaces. “Whenever I travel, I always look for interesting and unique pieces of architecture that I can visit. I like to discover the stories and stories that are hidden behind the walls of a particular place. With the pandemic, of course , I haven’t been able to do that so this project has been a way to experience new architecture remotely The pandemic has been stressful and overwhelming for many of us but this series has been kind of a escape, something I can get lost in several times a week.”
Not being able to see these stunning buildings in real life doesn’t really throw you off Yo: “Every time I start a new illustration, I try to imagine myself in that space and imagine how the air would feel, how it would feel. might feel or how the light would shine. I then try to convey that through the color, textures and composition of the drawing. I hope to be able to share my love for buildings and beautiful interiors through my work.