4-min Daily Doodles for 40 Days


For Lent this year, I’ve decided to draw a 4-min doodle every day. Today’s doodle is inspired by my friends, Tom and Thomas, who I’ve known for 18+ years. They are 2 of the sweetest people on planet Earth. Check out this interview about their business. I love how they make time for community work despite their busy schedules. (Tom has owned a few Boston Terriers over the years in case you were wondering about the dog.)

Drawing Again!


I always need a deadline to push me to draw more than a doodle.  Tonight’s final deadline for the 2015 Communication Arts Illustration Competition was as good a reason as any… The piece is inspired by the tendency of feeling like I have no ideas when I need them the most.  It’s as if my mind were completely blank with the soundtrack of crickets in the background.  Ironically, when I want to try to relax and put my mind to rest, that’s exactly when my brain starts buzzing with no off switch within reach.

It feels good to draw again.

Inspiration in West LA

Limited Edition Mint Tins by Audrey Kawasaki, one of my favorite artists — purchased as set of 5 from GR2 // Giant Robot Gallery in West LA

Limited Edition Tins designed and signed by Audrey Kawasaki, one of my favorite artists — purchased as set of 5 from GR2 // Giant Robot Gallery

During a lazy Sunday afternoon of mundane errands, I had a serious “Ah ha!” moment.  (More like, “No duh!” moment.)  I was reminded that there is way more to my life than a 9-to-5 job and emails and agendas and deadlines and things to prove.  That everyday things can be works of art and that I am completely content simply spending time in a Japanese grocery store or Tokyo Outlet.  And it was all thanks to our old neighborhood, Little Osaka along Sawtelle Boulevard.

I decided to wander into GR2 and was immediately inspired by the current Stories group show.  Galleries and museums can often be so alienating but I love the shops on Sawtelle.  The art scene here in West LA feels authentic yet approachable and even fun.  Always inspirational.  I love checking out what other artists are trying.  Edwin Ushiro‘s graphite on vellum drawings are amazing.  And I am totally in love with Jeni Yang‘s paintings on wood with laser cut embellishments.  My favorite is her Nuke piece.  I couldn’t stop staring at it.

Just as I was about to leave, a little stack of  Audrey Kawasaki tins caught my eye.  I couldn’t resist.  Audrey Kawasaki is one of my favorite artists.  And just when I thought my modern Asian-American art adventure was coming to an end, who happened to be the cashier but none other than Eric Nakamura himself!  Founder of Giant Robot.  I was completely awestruck.  I tried desperately to think of something intelligent and thought-provoking to say as I paid for my tins.  Instead, all I could think of was, “Uh that’s a cool watch in the display case…  It’s on sale?  Can I take a look at it?”  I’ve bumped into famous people both in NYC and in LA and I usually have no problem chatting it up.  “Excuse me, are you Henry Thomas?… OMG, I loved your work in E.T.!  Wow!”

Oh well.  I was never a very good extemporaneous speaker.  Next time I run into Eric Nakamura, I’ll have my speech prepared about how inspirational his work has been — both in the art world and in the Asian-American community.  In the meantime, I’ll just have to say my somewhat silent thank you via this blog post.

Love is in the Air!

Danny + Arlene Yoo

Rather than re-use our excuse, “Why I Haven’t Blogged in a While,” I’m going to  say, “Love is in the Air!”  Valentine’s Day is around the corner and to top it off, my sister is pregnant!  Not only is she pregnant, but she is due to give birth in a matter of weeks!  Knowing my sister and brother-in-law, my hunch is that this baby girl is either going to arrive early OR right on time.  3-3-13 is coming up fast!

I am excited for Arlene and Danny.  It goes without saying that they are going to be wonderful parents.  My niece is going to grow up so loved.

In Honor of Filipino World War II Veterans

Our long overdue tribute to the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who fought side by side with American soldiers during World War II.  We also feature Mr. Greg Villanueva, a Filipino guerrilla fighter who is still awaiting the benefits promised to him by the US government 67 years later.  Special thanks to Mr. Villanueva for sharing his story with us and to his family for welcoming us into their home.

Japan Day 2012 Art Contest Submission

© 2012, Original Art by Ardith Ibañez Nishii

Decided to interrupt my job search with an art contest submission for Japan Day 2012.

When I decided to create a piece commemorating the 100th anniversary of Japan’s gift of cherry trees to the US, I knew that I wanted to use a graphic style inspired by travel posters of the early 1900’s.  The first cherry trees were planted along the Potomac River in 1912 during the era of ocean liners and passenger railways.  I love the simplicity and elegance of the illustrated vintage posters of that time.  I thought this would be the perfect way to unify the four themes of “Cherry Blossom(s)”, “New York”, ”Japan”, and “Central Park”.

I first created a skyline of famous architectural landmarks from both Tokyo and NYC, including a silhouette of buildings overlooking Central Park — an oasis of trees and ponds.  In contrast to the heavy two-dimensional style of the city scene, I wanted the blossoms to have a light, translucent feel to capture the magical look of a cherry tree in full bloom.  Of the 12 varieties planted in 1912, I specifically used the Fugenzo blossom for its pale pink color and the fact that the original gift of 2,000 trees in 1910 were Fugenzo trees.  (Let’s ignore the fact that those trees had to be burned due to a massive bug infestation.)  The red sun shining on the cityscape represents Japan.  I added the brush stroke to create an organic, Zen-like feel while the overall craft paper texture also aims to add warmth and a tactile quality.  I knew from the get-go that I wanted my piece to be on craft paper to enable the whitest white to pop.  Hence, “JAPAN DAY 2012” is the only 100% white element on the page for better visibility.  To add playfulness and whimsy, the location and date of the event are written on banners derived from antique posters.

If I had given myself more than a day to do this, I would have tried to do an actual gouache painting on paper rather than use Illustrator and Photoshop.

Interview with Ardith on “The Art Directed Life”

© Photo and Art by Ardith Ibañez Nishii

I am proud to be featured this week on the art blog, “The Art Directed Life.”

(The story behind the photo: Here’s a collage that I created with one of my illustrations.  I felt weird submitting a picture without my son, Cedro, so I included his sippy cup.  (a) He is obsessed with Lightning McQueen right now, and (b) I have been known to drink the rest of his drinks at the end of the day straight from his cup.)