Anthropomorphic fruit, sleeping narwhals and orating birds, welcome to the wonderful world of Keeki’s art. Following her latest release of limited edition prints, Keeki (accompanied by her cat Maude) talks to artrepublic about getting in trouble for drawing on walls, her favourite vegetable and how she got started as an artist…
Where does your name Keeki come from?
Keeki means cake in Japanese and as I’m influenced by Japanese art and I love cake it seemed the perfect name for me!
Do you describe yourself as an artist or illustrator?
I would say I’m an illustrator predominantly as my work generally tells a story and usually accompanies some form of narrative.
Tell us a bit about your new Fruit & Veg prints…
My new Fruit and Veg prints come from my French fruit prints that I sold a couple of years ago. I had so many more ideas for characters in my head and wanted to share them with everyone!
What’s your favourite vegetable?
A potato, they’re so versatile!
Do you invent characters for your anthropomorphic foods? How important is a narrative element in your artwork?
Yes, each fruit and vegetable lends themselves to a certain character and a slight change in details make them all individuals with their own little story to tell!
What made you become an artist? My Mum always used to read to me when I was little and my love of books and illustration stemmed from there really, particularly Roald Dahl stories and the illustrations of Quentin Blake.
How did you get started? I always drew and used to get in trouble for drawing in my books, on walls, my toys, well quite a lot really! I remember copying pictures from The Beano and from a variety of books that I had and my brother and I used to make our own adventure books with illustrations. My sister is really good at drawing as well and it was always the class I most enjoyed at school. When I found out I could do a degree in illustration I was very happy!
How do you approach the actual making of your work? I start with sketches then any research that’s required, ink them up, scan in and then colour up and amend if necessary.
What’s your medium? It varies, I use ink, watercolour, printing and computer aided design.
Where do you find inspiration? Reading, watching films, visiting galleries, travel and scanning the internet.
What’s your favourite children’s book? The Twits by Roald Dahl.
What are you currently working on? I’m currently working on a couple of commissions for people and Christmas stock!
Which of your works are you most proud of? The Flying Fox and Mr Citron from the French Fruits series.
Do you care whether people like your work? I think an illustrator would be lying if they said they didn’t care what people thought of their work as it’s the public that they will be selling to.
What memorable responses have you had to your work? The commissions I create for people generally get the best response as they are so personal, especially when they are for children.
When are you happiest? When I’m at home in my pyjamas with my husband and cats drinking tea and drawing.
Which artists do you most admire? There’s so many that I admire that it’s hard to pinpoint only a few but Charles Addams, Edmund Dulac, Aubrey Beardlsey, Paul Rand, Yoshitomo Nara and Marc Boutavant are all very inspirational and I’m sure I’ve missed lots of others!
Describe an average day in the life of Keeki – I work full time so I get up at 6am, travel to work then head home about 4pm, have a cuddle with my cats and a cup of tea then I either do some sketching, play computer games or finish off any work I have in the evening.