domingo, 28 de dezembro de 2014

My Pente Artwork

As an artist, and someone who truly puts all heart and soul in the painting, I shouldn't have the need to explain myself or my artwork to anyone, but the fact is that I think I need to give an insight to all my potential customers and people who keep speculating about my work with a frown and ideas that are not quite valid.

I've been a painter all my life, it is my passion, but very rarely did I show my works, so most of people are unaware of it. I always loved the japanese culture, and 7 years ago I crossed my path with the traditional japanese kimono and obi. One day I saw a plain obi for sale, and I thought:
"This obi looks so dull. What is the purpose of it? Is it unfinished somehow?"
Immediately I had the idea that I should purchase it and try to paint something on it and see how would it look like. And so I did, and when I saw how it came out, I knew that I had just did a Pente obi. A Pente obi is a type of obi commonly made in and after WWII, when the japanese did not have money to afford expensive dyes. In that time, most of the women's obi were painted with a ink very similar to acrylics.
I started to neglect my canvas and painting more on obi. I bought original japanese obi from different ages, types and shapes, all of them completely plain as a canvas, and start to recreate what are considered rare/lucky motives, such as animals. I am a Nature and animals' lover, so rabbits, foxes, owls, and other animals are the things I enjoy painting the most. At first I confess, I had no intention of selling them, as I am very attached to all my paintings, but then I noticed that many kimono lovers complained how hard it was to get an obi with a certain motif, and how expensive it was when it appeared. I then decided to sell some, and besides some people were unsure how to value my work, or got confused by what I was offering, 90% of my works sold, most of them private custom orders.
At this time, this become my work as an artist, and in the future I intend to graduate profissionally as a kimono designer and/or artisan. While I am not professional yet, I do mostly paintings that come to my mind or custom orders, and I offer affordable prices, prices that no one can dream of to find in any japanese store. Even so, I've been reading some negative comments on my work constantly poping out, and kept silent all the time, but now I feel the need to answer in a way that people can understand. Most of these comments are complaints about the prices, and others are words undervaluing my work because I am not japanese or because the obi is one thing and the painting is another. Bellow I will try to give the most clear answer to these critics.

Regarding the price of my work:
Before complaining about the price I ask for my obi and kimono, you must first consider this:
- I am not a store or a factory. My items are not mass-made. Each one is one of a kind, and I paint every single one all by hand(no stencils or other helps, just hand and brush).
- The time it's taken for them to be made. Depending on the piece and the details, my works can take usually 2 to 3 months to be finished. I even had some that took me half an year.
- The materials needed for the piece to be made. I have to invest in an original japanese plain kimono or obi, in dyes and other materials. This, and considering that if  I make any mistake(as to acidentally spill ink in places that it shouldn't be spilled), the piece will be unusable.
- While you'll have to pay $300 to $500 for an Owl or Rabbit obi in a store such as Ichiroya, an obi that might not be so pretty and not handmade, you can get a custom-made obi from me, that you know is unique in the world, with an extremely rare motif(some of them you can only find once in a life-time in a japanese store), for the steal of $100 to $250.

Regarding the fact I am not japanese(artisan):
I understand that people might value more the kimono or obi of a japanese artisan than the ones of a western painter. It is a collector thing, wanting something japanese made by a japanese person, something genuinely japanese. I truly understand that, but I'm not even trying to compete with that. I am an European artist that paints on genuine obi, that's all. And this is all I want to be and be known for. If you wish to purchase something from a real japanese artisan, certainly my works are not for you. I don't think my work should be inferior(or superior) than a japanese's one, I think it is just unique. My customers are those who look for bold and uniqueness in everything.

Regarding my paintings on obi:
It is very simple, as I stated above:
I paint on genuine japanese pieces, that can be vintage, antique, or modern. I acquire pieces that are completely plain, and give them my touch. Therefore, the piece can be simultaneously vintage and modern(the obi is vintage, and my paint on it is recent). Also, my designs can be made, or not, in japanese style. I sometimes recreate some styles, but I paint mostly my own intentionally. As an artist I wish to remain myself and give my essence to my work.

This is the best way I can answer to doubts that some people might have. Most of the artists have to go through this, but certainly it would be a lot smoother if people would not be so judgemental before knowing any facts and care to know what they are looking at.
I hope I had been clear enough in this post. I will continue to work on obi and kimono and to improve my art, and I hope that anyone who wants a custom piece from me knows exactly what piece they are getting and if it is the correct piece for them.

Thank you so much for reading until the end,
I wish everyone a Happy New Year!

domingo, 31 de agosto de 2014

Kimono VS Geisha

In these days, I often ask myself what is truly a kimono lover.
What is truly a person that values the kimono for the beauty of its artwork, and enjoys wearing it properly and truly. I am a kimono lover and collector for many years, and more and more I notice people that claim to be kimono lovers, but are unable to value the kimono itself.
Their passion for kimono comes only from their obsession(an obsession that sometimes can be sick) for geisha and maiko. The wanting of being one, look like, or feel like one. The people who started their love for kimono without the bond to geisha are extremely rare, and I am myself suspect since I also started that way. I began to like kimono because I was incredibly stunned by geisha, and wanted to look like one. I was only a teenager at that time, and passing by the years, I now only enjoy kimono because it's kimono, and I learned its value and beauty. I remember I saw people creating a lot of conflict, drama, envy and hate over everything related to geisha.
It was like crazy teens around their idol, and it happens even now. When a hikizuri, or darari obi appeared, it was like releasing a thousand dogs to one bone, people would fight and spend thousands to get the piece. I am myself a geisha and maiko items collector, and for much that I would love to own certain kimono or obi, I would never spend so much money, or starve during a month, to be able to have them. The worst case I remember about this obsession, was someone who bought an extremely stained hikizuri once(the piece was really in a poor condition) to perform as a geisha somewhere. This person didn't care if the kimono could be biohazard to their health, nor the image that they would transmit in public wearing such a stained garment, the person was just blind and obsessed by looking like a geisha, that the means didn't matter, what mattered was the kimono being worn by geisha, so the 15cm round brown stains all over had no importance.

Some time ago, I met a girl who loved kimono, but didn't know anything about geisha. I've asked her how did she found kimono then, and how she started to enjoy it.
She told me "Well, I saw in magazines and online, and enjoyed how japanese ladies and girls looked so beautiful and colorful on them. There was so much artwork involved, and I wanted to try a kimono myself!"
I was quite impressed by her, and the way she would value and cherish a normal kimono, or a common nagoya obi. She would value much more the artwork of the piece, and not who worn it before, or if it had belonged to a geisha or a normal woman. I thought to myself that she was a true kimono lover.
I've seen people buying a hikizuri or darari, that they didn't even like, just because of the fact a geisha had dress and sweat in it! Years ago, someone told me "When I look for geisha items, the motif or condition doesn't matter. What matters is that a geisha wore it". It makes me think that these collectors would even buy toilet paper used by maiko, just because she used it. Ewww!
So if for this persons the artwork on a kimono piece doesn't matter, and the condition doesn't matter, and if they are willing to give thousands for something, I don't think they can be called collectors(collectors value much condition specially) or a kimono lover. This is someone who is obsessed with a particular thing, and nothing more. This people are also ready to attack anyone or everything if they see geisha being "harmed" somehow, or if they feel the connections they think they have online with the geisha world is in question.
This was one of the things that made be back off with everything geisha related, because unfortunately I couldn't look to a geisha photo or item anymore without feeling something very negative, and all this drama around them that people created. Of course, this beautiful and unique artists have no fault, and I still love and admire them very much, but I simply cannot involve myself with anything related to them anymore, without having bad memories comming out of everything that happened in the kimono community during the years.

I enjoy kimono so much, and I value a tsukesage as much as I would value a hikizuri. Maybe the tsukesage is even more valuable, if it has a beautiful color and artwork, and it doesn't drag on the floor(why would I need a hikizuri but for a fashion show, henshin, or tradicional japanese dance?). If I have to value a darari obi, for example, I would value it for the design and the condition.
This is how I see kimono now, as it really is. An incredible mark of the japanese culture, and a stunning painting, that's why I enjoy to wear it and teach people about it. I love how accessible it is to us westerns and how many kitsuke can be created with so many accessories and different motives. I also follow the kimono rules and choose a much more traditional look, but sometimes also bend them a little whenever the occasion is appropriated to create "iki" new styles.
I think it's important that people start to see the kimono as something independent of geisha, with a life and way of its own, in order to enjoy it fully.

(I think it's important to tell my readers that, by this post, I am not telling that every maiko or geisha lover is obsessed or does not enjoy the art of kimono. Of course that for some geisha collectors, such as myself, the beauty and condition of the kimono piece is more important. I'm just speaking in general of what I see and my own experiences, and what I feel).

With this being said, I won't be writing here much anymore.

Please remember to see the beauty in the most simple kimono!

sexta-feira, 12 de julho de 2013

Kimono Fashion Contests!

Hey everyone!

I want you to know Worldwide Kimono Fashion.
It's a project which goal is to make people wear kimono more often and show their unique styles by making online fashion contests. The project centers itself on that, but there will be much other things comming.
It's for everyone around the world! anyone can participate by sending their entries to the email provided.
At the moment there is a contest going on - the summer kimono contest - and you can participate until 21st July. You can find more information here.

In this contest you can do a kitsuke with yukata, Ro, Sha, or other kimono appropriated for the season. You just need to be creative and present a beautiful summer kitsuke!
The contests usually have a single winner, and a group called Best Kitsuke(which can be 5 or 3 participants depending on the contest). The Best Kitsukes have their photo posted on the page, and the winner gets their place on the page header. It's being studied the possibility of having prizes(kimono-related itens) in future contests, but for now it's intented that everyone participates just for fun!
A magazine of all the contests might be made at the end of the year with the photos of every contest winner and Best Kitsukes, so stay tunned to this creative project if you love kimono fashion. ^ ^

Ookini and enjoy kimono!

sábado, 24 de novembro de 2012

Famous Hikizuri

If you read my last post,
you see that I posted a beautiful hikizuri with strange uncommon western motives.
Well, I discovered it was no ordinary kimono indeed. 
This hikizuri was designed by the British designers David & Elizabeth Emanuel, who designed the wedding dress of Diana, Princess of Wales.
David and Elizabeth have now separated brands, so I sent a message to Elizabeth asking for more information about this piece. This was her answer:

"The kimono you have bought was designed by David Emanuel and myself under the "Emanuel" brand in the early eighties when we were designing Kimonos for the Japanese market. 
Its lovely to see them again!

Best wishes Elizabeth Emanuel"

How amazing is that? 
I still don't know why it is lenghtned, in the center and both shoulders. I'm not imagining a geisha with this kind of odd kimono with tiny sparkles all over it, so, my thought is that it was for stage performance, for an Onnagata. But then, it is not synthetic, and so it cannot be washed and that will not be good for a stage piece that is worn in several performances. I believe only old stage kimono were from silk, and this one is not so old. It is from silk, all of it, and it weights around 5 Kg. So I start to wonder, could it be a customized piece for a famous person? Western women are mostly tall, so 220cm would be a need to give a good trail to a person that is 170cm tall. I saw princess Diana sometimes dressing in kimono, at least when she visited Japan, but I don't think this kimono could have been worn by her. If it was, I'm sure it should exist a photo somewhere. And that being said, I don't know, first I have to discover if her, or other known person, would love lillies and ribbons. And this kimono could have even been customized for someone in Japan, who knows? I cannot imagine this hikizuri being worn on stage, not only because things I already referred before, but also because I don't know any japanese play where lillies and ribbons will be a needed motif.  But then I don't know enough of kabuki, so if anyone could help me I would be very thankful. I will be dressing it on late December or January, and then I will post some photos. I'm still searching for a obi that could match this stunning hikizuri, a embroided collar for the juban, and other accessories. I hope to do the kitsuke this piece deserves!

For more information about the designer's sign in the kimono, please take a look here:

Hikizuri Sign


domingo, 14 de outubro de 2012

Lolita Hikizuri

I want to thank to a friend of mine, who had the kindness of offering me this hikizuri, in a moment I could not afford it again, and thought I would lost it again. I am so thankful and happy, to know that sometimes there are angels out there...Thank you. (You know who you are ;3)
Me and this kimono also have a funny story.
I saw it for the first time about 2(or 3?) years ago,when I was beginning my kimono collection. I just fell in love for it. Not just for being a o-hikizuri,but for being such an odd hikizuri with this kind of western design.
At the time I could not even dream to afford it,but even so,I saved money for some months,and then when I finally had enough...someone bought it.
I felt a little down when that happened,because I tried really hard to save the money for it,and it was not easy at all. I had even made a price offer to the seller before that,and he declined.
I just forgot about it.
And then,some weeks ago,this hikizuri just appeared again like magic. The seller was the same,so it seems that they didn't sell it after all and had it all this time.
Of course I had no hopes of winning the auction,but I got really surprised in the end. The auction just ended by the same price I had offered to the seller 2 years ago...coincidence,maybe?
But even so, school fees appeared and I had to cancel the purchase. It got relisted, and when I thought it was gone forever... a friend just gave it to me. I was just "Is this for real?"... I can only tell that I just love so much this kimono, and I can't explain why. Maybe because it has my favorite flowers as motif and also some of my favorite colors. Special kimono like this don't appear often. It's just like my sakura tree geiko's hiki. It's a fine and stunning piece of wearable art like no other.
I believe this is a stage piece,maybe it had belonged to an onnagata. It is also a signed kimono,so maybe it is from a known artist,I don't know.
It is lenghted as you can see,and it is too tall(about 220cm tall),and also has lenghted sleeves.
I'm thinking of contacting a professional seam to take the lenghted parts away,since I don't need such a big kimono,I'm a shorty after all,180cm would be more than enough for me to give me a nice kimono trail.
I called it lolita hikizuri because of the colors. Baby blue,baby pink and white are usually colors much used by lolita ^^ ~
the hiyoku is from a wine red,wich is also a very beautiful color.
A japanese friend of mine,wich is a kabuki actor and dance teacher,told me that this kind of design is very unusual,and it might be done for an unique play,maybe more western due the design of the ribbons and lillies.
It is all silk,so it is not an odori hikizuri for sure. It is indeed a mysterious kimono!

quinta-feira, 27 de setembro de 2012

Unique Kitsune Obidome

My newest creation, a kitsune obidome! unique and charming.

It is for sale at my store on Etsy:

Kitsune Obidome

Ookini for visiting! ^^

sexta-feira, 17 de agosto de 2012

Barn Owl Obi

Finally I've painted my second obi!
It is a nagoya obi from very fine shushu silk,with Barn Owl motif.
This is the work that I am most proud of. The few people that I've showed the obi were extremely impressed.
I did not expected to do such a thing. I'm very happy and feel very complete as an artist. This is a very,very special obi,and if I ever sell it,I want to be sure that it goes to the right person,a collector that knows how to valuate such a piece.

Ookini m(_ _)m