Natsko Seki’s dreams have always been filled with images: the chiseled visuals of Paul Rand, Saul Bass’s film titles and, more generally, the work of American and British graphic designers of the 1960s and ’70s. In 2001, at the age of twenty-four, she left her native Japan to study graphic design in London. Her knowledge of the profession amounted to a blank page. She discovered shapes and colors, and the nuances of lines drawn by hand or on a computer. Eventually, she realized that she enjoyed illustration and animation more than graphic design. She had found her vocation.
After graduating, she worked as an illustrator for the press until book publishers started noticing her sparkling, mischievous, imaginative work and asked her to illustrate covers and children books, among them Am I Big or Small?, by Masahito Ohashi (Fukuinkan Shoten Publishers, 2009), and If Minds Had Toes, by Lucy Eyre (Bloomsbury, 2008). She also works on advertising projects — such as a poster campaign for Transport for London, displayed in all the city’s underground stations — and wants to continue working in the publishing world as well. Natsko Seki’s illustrations are a sort of oxymoron.
Cleverly combining her hand-drawn illustrations with images made with the latest computer and photographic tools, she tells timeless stories tinged with a sweet nostalgia. Her sketches incorporate black-and-white collages and are enlivened with festive touches of color. The photographs used in her illustrations are drawn from her daily life, and the characters have the faces of her friends, husband and son, or strangers she meets in the street. When she animates one of her works, she uses a manual technique called stop motion, which confers a poetic feel on these entertaining pieces.
While her first commissions came mostly from Japanese clients, she now works more and more in Britain, which she sees as an indication of the universal nature of illustration, and continues to expand her horizons.
LOUIS VUITTON TRAVEL BOOK LONDON
Images via Louis Vuitton