Interview: Yohei Ogawa
Photography/Editing: Takafumi Sekiguchi
Did you know that the packaging of Xylitol Gum is designed by the popular illustrator Eku Uekura? It's actually part of the XYLITOL 20TH PROJECT celebrating the brand's 20th anniversary. The theme of the campaign is "COME ON! ENERGY! Let's chew! Towards our future!". The passionate messages encourages us to create our future together with the energy from chewing gum.
The campaign focuses on 20 groups of artistes in their 20s who will take center stage in 2020. There will be actors, athletes, musicians, voice actors, manga illustrators, and many other youths from a variety of genres, and Eku Uekura has been chosen to represent the young illustrators out there.
Using pop colors effectively, her expressive work dedicated to the fine details come together to bring about a cute piece of work. Apart from taking part in illustrating Little Witch Academia, The Novel (Detarame Majo to Yosei no Kuni) (Momo Tachibana/TRIGGER/Yo Yoshinari/Original: Kadokawa Tsubasa Bunko), and Uchira Tokushu☆Tenkou Travelers!! (Kyo Kogure/Kadokawa Tsubasa Bunko), she also helps out with the designing of character products for Hatsune Miku and other famous anime characters. She goes by PPP no Pixiv-tan on pixiv comics.
In order to get my friends to read my manga, I made them a part of it.
The line between interest and professional work
In the midst of making all these manga works, I often ran into the obstacle called lack of art skills. Because of my lack of art skills, I wasn't able to achieve the more prestigious awards. It made me determined to study more about art.
Failures and goals
I believed that I wouldn't have been able to grab a serialization and it was hard anyway.....and that it would be better for me to just put a clean end to it.
It was also then that I realized my motivation for drawing manga was rooted in winning a prestigious award.
But I still enjoyed drawing. That didn't change even after I quit drawing manga..... Perhaps I could be more suited towards just drawing illustrations, I thought as I searched for new directions to head in. And that's how I'm still working hard with illustrations today!
And outfits! I always design the outfits before drawing the illustration. Once I've decided on the outfits and hairstyles, I'll add in the pose, and expression required to pull the clothes off well. It just doesn't seem to work if I do it the opposite way round. I might even shelf the piece of work halfway through if the expression and pose doesn't match etc. You need the outfit to see what kind of pose would look good, and what kind of pose to see what kind of expression would look good. You could say that illustrations are an extension of character designs.