When I first moved to Japan I didn’t know much about Japanese illustrators and artists beyond Takeshi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara and whilst they both still totally blow my mind, it was a delight to discover some lady illustrator and artists that could do the same.
It was on a cold winter day in January that I was staring at the huge wall of diaries available in Tower Records in Shibuya when I spied a tiny bunny character on one of them from the corner of my eye (see pic above). That little book became my diary for 2004 and it’s unlined pages allowed me to draw sketches rather than to dominate it with words. In a way this is what started my journey to become an illustrator…this tiny little diary.
A couple of years later, I saw some of her work in a group show in a gallery in Tokyo and bought a postcard (see pic above). At the time I was suffering from a serious case of home sickness mixed with culture shock x 1000 and ‘What’s wrong with me!’ was my daily mantra.
Maya Maxx (born 1961) is a well known artist and children’s book illustrator. In true Japanese style she manages to produce cute characters, the style and content whilst at times naive, tells a much deeper story of what it means to want fit in, to belong and to understand the world. In a society in which 出る釘は打たれる (The stake that sticks out gets hammered down) these are brave images indeed.