Wk 4 – Artist Conversation – Jean Iwohara

Artist: Jean Iwohara
Exhibition: Glass Eyes
Media: Illustration, Watercolour
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery
Website: jeaniwohara.weebly.com
Instagram: jelly.jean

Dance With Me by Jean Iwohara
Rough drafts of Dance With Me by Jean Iwohara

Jean Iwohara is a California State University State Long Beach student in the School of Art’s Illustration Program. She’s going to graduate in Spring 2020 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree. Her goal is to become a storyboard artist, which means she will sketch scenes for shows, movies, animations, etc. She went into college as a hospitality major, but ultimately, changed because she figured she had been drawing her whole life, and it’s something she really enjoys doing. Her family also supports her in her endeavors. Jean’s mother is also an artist, so Jean has been exposed to art at a very young age. She drew a lot when she was a kid. During some classes, she would often doodle on the side of notebooks. Despite her early exposure to art, she didn’t really get into art until college started. That was when she worked to improve her skills. Jean loves drawing figures, and she loves conveying the figures’ emotions through their facial expressions. Jean also believes that drawing is a language. She believes that drawing is a way for expressing herself when words can’t. Jean has a promising future ahead of her!

Jean’s illustration, Dance With Me, has many formal qualities that are very eye-catching. When looking at the art the first time, the colours are very bright and vibrant. They are colours that would give off a sunset and relaxing vibe. The lines are sleek and smooth. It feels like if a water droplet fell on those lines, it would slide off with ease. The same can be said for the texture. Watercolour has a smooth feeling to it. For the scaling, the figures are bigger than the background, so they are more of the focus. Dance With Me gives a slight upbeat and delicate rhythm. The left figure is holding the right figure in a gentle way and the colours make it upbeat. The art isn’t so tiny that you have to walk close to see it, but if you want to see the details, then walking up close will help you see them better. There are some jaggedness lines and many sinuous lines to Dance With Me.

In Dance With Me, Jean Iwohara explored the theme of anxiety and how external forces inflicts anxiety. As she draws, she imagines how the forces would affect her and her own anxiety. With that idea in mind, she works to express her thoughts on paper, but instead of a flurry of words, it’s a combination of lines and shapes with splashes of colours. In this specific piece, she expressed anxiety as a physical response. The work feels like it’s set in a dystopian society where it’s forbidden for humans and robots to be with one another. The left figure looks to be having a conflict with herself as she holds the right figure’s hands. She doesn’t know if it’s the right thing to be doing or not, thus her expression is hesitant. In this case, the external force is relationship that is causing anxiety.

When I viewed the exhibition, I was amazed with the quality of the work. The illustrations I saw really do a good job in showing how anxiety can be for people. Talking to Jean made me realize that artists have to go through a rough draft process before finalizing their drawings. She showed me the draft for Dance With Me, and I was in awe. When I draw, I just go for it without any drafts in mind. Jean’s work really resonates with me because sometimes I deal with bad anxiety. I know when I have anxiety, I have a physical response. My expression is the same as the left figure in Dance With Me. I’m very hesitant when I get anxiety. When I have to talk in front of people, or even talk to people I don’t know, my anxiety flares up. My mind is filled with thoughts like “Why am I stepping out of my comfort zone?” and “Do I really have to do this?” It makes me want to back out of what I’m doing. The answer is usually always that I really have to do it for an assignment or something. Even interviewing Jean gave me anxiety because I never talked to her before, but I relaxed as I talked to her more. She is a very patient and kind person. I think Jean did a great job in presenting anxiety through her work. Even though Dance With Me‘s theme is anxiety, the background made me relaxed through its colours and forms such as stars and planets. Overall, the exhibition was very well put together and I wish Jean the best of luck in her journey of becoming a storyboard artist.

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