Yumiko Kayukawa’s “Sister Series” Crosses Yakuza with Love for Wildlife

1xRUN welcomes Japanese illustrator Yumiko Kayukawa to the International Women’s Day collection with a print set and original artwork. Sister Sharkskin and Sister Leopardess are continuations of Kayukawa’s “Sister Series” of portraits depicting fierce vigilantes paired with animals, nodding to Japan’s Yakuza action films and the Manga artform. In our exclusive interview, the artist spoke to 1xRUN about her process, influences, and love for wildlife.

1xRUN: Tell us a little bit about this piece, anything immediate you would like us to highlight about this image?
Yumiko Kayukawa:
These are drawn with Sumi Ink, which I love to work with. I like doing calligraphy and drawing Manga with Sumi. I always find it enjoyable. 

1x: Is this piece a part of an ongoing series?
 These two pieces are the 5th and 6th of my “Sister Series”. I usually draw women, and these two “strong woman” images were a good fit for 1xRUN’s International Woman Day collection.

1x: Can you tell us more about the Sister series? 
 These ladies are “Yakuza”, which is a genre of the movies I love. When I started discussing the creation of 1-2 color letterpress prints with 1xRUN, I immediately thought that the bold black line image would be perfect for the strong personalities of these women. 

Brutal Tales of Chivalry (1965), a Japanese Yakuza film

1x: Tell us about your execution of this image. What materials were used, how much time did it take?
Sumi ink on paper board. The red parts are acrylic paints. I guess it was about 45 hours per image.

1x: What is unique about this piece compared to your other work? 
The details were done with pen and Sumi ink. The technique of comes from Manga design, which I used to do.
1x: What were your earliest interactions with art growing up? 
Animal picture books, wildlife and superhero TV shows. I started to draw all of these favorite things at age of three. 

1x: What was a prominent figure that played a major role in your formation as an artist?
Wildlife and animal welfare. I care about animals a lot, and my “art brain” is directed by my feeling for them. That informs my art. 

1x: What are some your biggest challenges to being a working artist?
 Balancing work and life. While I’m working on a piece, I will focus on it so deeply that it’s easy to leave everything else behind. I still struggle to manage time even after 20 years of being an artist.  

1x: What are some changes that you would like to see in the art industry?
More female gallery or business owners. More chances for undiscovered female artists to get their art shown. 

1x: What artists have inspired you in the past? Who are some artists that inspire you today?
Past – Beatrix Potter. Today – Niagara

1x: What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?
Work hard, meet your deadlines!