Interview 5. Megu Ueda.

From the land of the rising sun to the land of…well, Angles (not a misspelling, I didn´t mean angels.) This artist I found on the same social media site and group as the previous ones I´ve interviewed here. She is quite young but regardless she seem to be a very well articulated person with a good attitude towards life and it´s trials…Here is Megu:

Me: Hello Megu, is that your name btw? Please present yourself, who are you? Where are you from? Where do you live?

Megu: My name is Megu or Meg, which ever is easier (All characters in the Japanese alphabet are syllables so I can’t end my name on the ‘G’ sound alone). I am from a city called Kobe in Japan (which is next to Osaka). I currently live in the UK in a little village near Southampton.

Me: What kind of art do you create? I have looked at your insta and I would call it “manga style”, is that a good description?

Megu: I mostly draw with pen and paper. I really like drawing a whole picture with one biro. I also dabble in digital work, watercolour, ink, and drawing on wood :). My art is of course inspired by manga. I grew up surrounded by manga and anime and that’s how I got into drawing in the first place. But I also think that the classic ‘manga’ style has its limitations and I want to take inspiration from it and create something eye catching and mind bending :).

Me: What is “manga”? Is it just Japanese for “cartoon” or is it something else? Is Manga popular in Japan? Or is it bigger in the West? (I have no idea)

Megu: Manga does mean cartoon in Japanese. But I think with the world becoming more connected and it reaching countries in the west, it has become its own genre with a particular style. If you compare Japanese to western cartoons, the style of drawing is quite distinctively different. And yes! Manga is huge in Japan. Book shops have entire sections and floors dedicated to it. In the west you are assumed to be a little niche or geeky to like/ love manga, but it’s a lot more mainstream in Japan. 

Me: Are you a proffessional artist who can live on your art or is it more of a side hustle/hobby?

Megu: I’m unfortunately not a professional artist… yet. I am 21 and have just graduated from university (unfortunately I did not study art). It is a side hustle. But I really worked on it during university. I have my artwork up for sale in a cafe in Brighton and I’ve done a few murals too. So I’m really just starting to try and make my artwork a living. I practice everyday and I constantly think about how I can make it better.

Me: How was 2020 for you?

Megu: 2020 had its ups and downs but I definitely think that I was very lucky. Of course corona presented some struggles. I haven’t been able to visit my family in Japan for a long time now. I also didn’t get to have a graduation or big leaving parties and drinks with all of my friends that I’ve made over the past 3 years. But during the first lockdown I got furloughed so I got to focus on drawing. This is when I got to do a mural at the cafe in Brighton which puts my artwork up. I was presented with so many opportunities that wouldn’t have come without it. 

Me: What are your expectations vs. hopes for 2021?

Megu: My hopes for 2021 are of course for the corona virus situation to die down. Now that I’ve had time to sort my thoughts on how I can pursue my art I really want to put it into action. A big part of being an artist is making connections. I have tried to build an Instagram following and be more active online and on social media, but the connections I make there aren’t as strong as the connections I make in person. Though,  I’m trying not to keep my expectations too high. If this pandemic does go on for a little while longer, I have to find ways to look on the bright side and find opportunities in different ways. It’s something I don’t have control over, but I do have control over my attitude and the way I go about in life. 

Me: How do you think the general situation will look like the coming year/years for createurs/artists? Will there be a market/ demand?

Megu: The situation for artists is not looking at its best at the moment. Especially for musicians and theatre artists who rely on crowds as a source of income. With filming, festivals, concerts and more at a halt, I know that many people are struggling to find work and put their talents to use during the pandemic. For illustrators and painters, the closure of galleries and art shows is a little bit of a blow. I also think that many people, who had lots of free time for the first time in a longtime with furlough and working from home, are putting more of their energy into art making it all the more competitive. Despite this, I think there is a huge demand for it too. There are so many different styles and artists about and people love having one of a kind things (such as original artworks, specially drawn commissions etc ). The backlash the UK government got after suggesting that artists should retrain and look for a 9-5 job also showed me that people (not just artists) appreciate the arts. 

Me: Do you have any golden tips to share when it come to marketing and selling your art?

Megu: As I mentioned before, I think it’s all about connections. My first art sales were all to people I knew. People that I knew in primary school have reached out to me asking to buy some drawings.  I mentioned having my artwork for sale in a cafe in Brighton. I had a good relationship with the person who owned the cafe and he suggested that I leave my work there. It came up so naturally. Which is why I want this pandemic to die down so I can meet new people. I am trying to reach out to more people through pages like Facebook and Instagram. I look for art hashtags and scroll through the recent feed, where I like, follow and comment on people’s posts. I really appreciate when people comment on my posts, so I like to do the same for art that I find nice. I still need to work on my online presence. I would like to do more making prints, stickers, etc. It would also be nice to get more commissions and participate in more collaborations. But, most importantly, I don’t create because I want money, I make art because I really enjoy doing it. So I don’t get down because people are not buying my work. I want to get better and draw more more and more! 

Me: Are the Japanese in general a very secular people? What are your thoughts on religion and/or “spirituality”?

Megu: I think that Japanese people are quite secular compared to people in other countries. Religion is a huge part in countries that have a high population of Christians, Muslims and religions that are part of your daily life. In Japan, the main religion is Buddhism and Shintoism. Aspects of Buddhism can be seen in Japanese life, such as praying when you goto temples, going to the shrine on New Year’s Day, and respecting the dead/ visiting their graves during ‘obon’ (national holiday) in the summer. However, Buddhism does not come into play in regards to daily life for most people or politics. Most people visit temples maybe a few times a year.  I personally see myself as agnostic. I feel that there are too many bad things that happen in the world for a one and truly powerful ‘god’ to oversee. But I think there is a force of nature that can’t really be known but is there affecting all of our lives. 

Me: If you can make a question up for yourself, what would that be? And what would you answer?

Megu: I might ask myself about the process of creating. Most of my artwork is drawn without references. I like to test my imagination and what I can conjure up without looking at a picture. I feel this way I can really see my weaknesses but also really hone in on what I’m good at. Of course, looking at pictures and references is important for learning to draw new things and I do also love to practice. I just need to draw everyday to get better. I don’t think there is a miraculous way to get better overnight. 

Me: Was this experience fun, to answer my questions?

Megu: Yes! It was a lot of fun. It’s nice to put my experiences and thoughts into words. It helped organise my thoughts a little more , but also think about the roots of my art and why I create. 

Me: You get to ask me one thing now, go ahead!

Megu: I saw on your Instagram page that your art/creations involve metal. How did you get into that? Do you need a lot of resources for metal casting? 

Me: I got hooked after watching a youtube channel named “King of random” a few years ago. They showed how you could build your own mini metalfoundry in your own backyard. I eventually did it and since I have made quite a few castings. In time I decided to try to “market” what I do as “art”, a decision that not was totally “comfortable” for me in the beginning. It is a “new world” for me, the art world. That is one of several reasons (there are so many reasons…all totally valid) I also decided to start this blog, interviewing other artists. To get connections and to learn from all of you. I do off course need some resources, but the most important thing I believe is that I live in a rural area on the countryside. It is not suitable/possible to have this thing running if you live in a city I think…

Me: Please tell me, where do we find you and your beautiful creations?

Megu: Kind regards,Megu 

She didn´t reply to this my last question, maybe she just missed it, maybe it´s some kind of shyness or coertesy/politeness, maybe it´s a Japanese thing? Some kind of good manner from the land of the rising sun? I don´t know. What I do know is that she do have an Instagram account and I want to share it with you so that you can look at more of her fantastic art. Please visit and/or follow: Artist (@megu_ueda_art) •

Below are a few of Megu´s creations. Me personally? I absolutely love them!

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