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Haruna from Japan, art director and artist

Haruna Akashi
From: Japan
Studied: BA (Hons) Fashion Promotion & Imaging at UCA Epsom, 2012
Now: Art Director and Artist

'Keep creating whatever you love, whether it’s in your head or with your hands. Never stop creating,' advises Haruna, UK graduate and freelance artist.

She's working on a range of projects – from a children's book to interior design and CD album artwork – and finding inspiration all around her.
Find out what she learned on her UK course, and her advice for aspiring art students...

What attracted you to studying in the UK?

'When I was an International Baccalaureate (IB) student at Taipei European School, I had a teacher from the UK for my visual arts class. I received the highest mark for my final grade, which encouraged me to go into arts. My art teacher was part of the inspiration to study in the UK, as he said there are good art universities in the UK.'

How did the teaching style in the UK compare to back home?

'As I never went to art universities in Japan, it is hard for me to compare, but there were many opportunities to work in small groups or even in one-on-one tutorials with a tutor throughout a project in the UK. In each session, I received rich feedback on my work with different perceptions, and sometimes even my understanding of my own work became even clearer.'

Haruna and friends at graduation (Photo ©Natalie Li)

Did you do any work experience, internships or part-time jobs while you were a student?

'In the second year, I did an internship which was part of a module. I was interning at a post-production company in London called Another Word. The team back then was quite small, but the team members were very international – nobody shared the same nationality. For a few months I was an intern there, working on a documentary film. What I learnt and became part of was such an experience, it could not be replaced.

'I also helped as a translator and a backstage assistant at a fashion show held in London for UEDA College of Fashion in Osaka and UCA.'

Tell us about your career – what are you doing now, and what is it like?

'My job as an art director and artist includes illustrations, designing and translation for children’s picture books written by a former Israeli ambassador to Japan, Eli E. Cohen. We are working on the books to be published in English, Japanese and Hebrew. I work from Japan with the team based in Israel, and have meetings with Eli in Tokyo once a month when he comes to Japan.

'Other than the children’s books, I have been working as a freelance designer and moving image creator, which includes interior design drawings, CD album artwork, logos and a documentary film.

'Because I am not part of a company or any organisations, there can be many risks, responsibilities and difficulties that I have to face. But at the same time, if you can manage your time well, there are no restrictions for what you can work on.'

Tools of the trade: The book Haruna is working on, 'Parparteka' in Japanese, as she tests prints and layouts (Photo ©Haruna Akashi)

How did you get the job? Or if self-employed, how did you create your own role?

'I was introduced for the current job by someone that I worked for before. I was never really good at self-promotion, but recently I have become more and more aware of how important self-promotion and the links with people around you are.'

How do you keep finding inspiration? What does ‘creativity’ mean to you?

'I don't look for inspiration when I need something – or if I do, I may get something, but not necessarily what I was looking for. I get motivated by listening to a variety of old and new sounds, music, movies, and looking at and being exposed to other artists’ work, but inspiration comes to me out of nowhere – maybe while doing something which doesn't necessarily seem creative.

'When thinking about, wondering and feeling the system of how we live, how we are alive and how this planet or universe works, you may not find any answers, but sometimes trying to understand the system is very important. By taking a step back and staring at our daily lives from different angles, maybe you’ll find something as an inspiration or an answer. I believe time and creativity are the things that we are given equally in our life. To me, creativity is a great power and energy of life.'

Want to study art and design in the UK?

What advice would you give to students hoping to work in the creative industries?

'I am still a beginner in the creative industries so I don’t think I am in a place to give advice on that, but what is important at all times is to open your mind and believe in yourself. Keep creating whatever you love, whether it’s in your head or with your hands. Never stop creating.'

What are your ambitions for the future?

'Eventually in the future, I would like to create a platform for artists and creative individuals from all around the world to expose their works and connect them to others for possible collaborations, infinite creations,
and so on.'

What’s your number one memory from your time as a student in the UK? The one you’d tell your grandchildren about?

'Those moments spent with friends I met in the UK. It is impossible to pick one, but it is strange that what I can remember clearly are those that were stupid and funny. One night, my friend burnt cheese in a toaster and the lights went out in our student halls. Other people probably were not happy with the lights going out because of the cheese, but it was very memorable – haha!

'I’m not so sure if I will tell all these stupid and funny memories to my grandchildren, but they are precious memories of mine for sure.'

Haruna with flatmates and friends from university (Photo ©Natalie Li)

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