The Art of

Feature / Mariya Suzuki

Mariya Suzuki has contributed her work for many musicians, food professionals and publishers from around the world. In addition to printed media, she also collaborates with interior designers to draw murals. Aside from work, she enjoys going around town to draw subjects whose shape or story catches her attention.


wildness / Who or what are your main influences?

I draw things I find in my everyday life. They don’t have to be special at all. Mundane objects carelessly laying around the room or on the table, an overgrown garden on the way to a coffee shop, somebody’s laundry blowing by the second floor window—things like that catch my eyes and inspire me to draw. Those are part of my life as well as of someone else’s. I see so much beauty in those ephemeral moments, objects, and scenes. Some people might call them unimportant, but I believe those are what allows me to realize how beautiful life could be. They make me happy every time I encounter them. Not that “special” isn’t beautiful, but it’s nice to be aware of the little pieces of life that are so easy to take for granted.

As long as I live, I am always surrounded by my subject matter and will continue to be inspired by them no matter where I am.

Now that I think back, I’ve always drawn what I see. As a kid, I drew my sister and our family cat a lot. I think I used to draw things from imagination as well, but eventually found the most comfort in drawing from life. It’s quite interesting even to myself that my subject matter basically hasn’t changed. After 20 years, now as a professional illustrator, I am still inspired by what surrounds me.

wildness / What does a typical day look like for you?

I wake up to the sunlight from the window. I like to draw back the curtains before going to sleep so I have lots of sunshine coming in in the morning to wake me up. I start the day by taking a shower and doing some stretches. Then I make coffee.

My bedroom is also my studio, so I take my coffee in there and start working. I check my emails and work on client work.

When I have meetings in the afternoon to evening, I try to eat lunch at home before leaving. My lunch is usually pasta or noodles—something simple. I like eating at home since cooking can be a nice break (also procrastination at times…) and it feels healthier than eating out.

Depending on where I’m going, I take the train or walk to the destination. I like walking, so I try to walk if I’m not in a hurry. If I take the train, I usually draw the people on the train. It’s good practice to do that because many people tend to stay still, but at the same time, you never know when your subject is getting off the train. It helps you draw faster and not worry about making mistakes.

In between meetings and running errands, I go to a coffee shop. There, I would do some work on my computer or do some sketches of the shop and people.

I might have a dinner plan after that with friends or clients. If I don’t, I head home, getting some veggies at a veggie shop right by the train station on the way back. I cook some dinner, and sometimes my roommates come home soon after. We talk about our current projects and some random stuff while drinking and laughing together until we’re tired.

wildness / What are you currently working on?

I’m planning on having a show next month at a coffee shop called Workers in Tokyo. I have associated my work with coffee more strongly since last year not only because I like coffee a lot but also because of what I draw. I am fascinated by everyday life, and coffee is very much part of everyday life. By displaying my work at coffee shops, I am hoping that I can show that art can exist in daily life to those who might feel art is otherwise inaccessible.

The details of what the show will look like is still a work in progress.

Though the content is pretty obvious—my drawings from my daily life, I am still trying to figure out an exciting way to show them. In the past shows, I have drawn on paper cups, which was well received by the guests and on the web. Also, besides the shows, I have been drawing on long pieces of scratch paper. I enjoy the fact that, just by playing with the material to draw on, the same subject can become much more interesting and fun. I’m hoping to create a space where people find delight in art. At the same time, it would also be nice if they find familiarity and comfort, and even feel some kind of emotional connections to my drawings.

Mariya Suzuki was born in Nara, Japan and studied illustration in Long Beach, California. She currently works as an illustrator in Tokyo.