Artist spotlight: Ayako Ishiguro

Artist spotlight: Ayako Ishiguro


Loveliness, fear and wonder coexist. Welcome to the fantastic world of Ayako Ishiguro.


Ayako Ishiguro draws monster cats, yokais, and creative creatures with a unique worldview. She is fascinated by her wide range of expressive power, such as drawing powerful yokai with delicate brushwork and colours like Japanese paintings, and also working on a picture book in which a cute "nekomata" family appears.


I keep my favorite graniph items in my collection.


── This is your fourth collaboration. How do you feel about the commercialization of graniph?

Ayako I like graniph's collaborations because they often take up surprising maniac things that make me wonder, "Are you going to commercialize this?" I bought a lot when Shigeru Mizuki and Kazuo Umezu collaborated, and I also bought some when the Beatles rage came out. Kayako Nishimaki's "Watashi no One Piece" children's dress has beautiful embroidery, and even though her daughter can no longer wear it, it is displayed as a collection.

graniph Thank you! Until now, most of Ishiguro's collaborations have been released in the summer, but this time We are trying to do autumn and winter items such as outerwear. We chose various motifs from your picture book "Nekomatagoyomi" and created a lineup.

Ayako When I asked you to change this design, you quickly came up with an alternative plan, which made the job easier. There are times when I reflect on whether I said too much about the design changes for this kind of collaboration, but I didn't have that kind of stress with you.

graniph We felt it was more rewarding to have Mrs. Ishiguro speak clearly. We told the designer that even though we had an "NO", it might be OK if we changed the layout of the clothing items and the design, and they gave me a lot of ideas. Even if you say "something is wrong", that feeling is Mrs. Ishiguro's sense and world view, so we intend to incorporate it into our expression while cherishing it.


The lizard sweatshirt is exquisite. I didn't expect graniph to do this.


── Are there any items in this collection that you particularly like?

 Ayako It would be Togeo-chan. This is based on a lizard we have at home called "Togeoagama". Original lizards don't look like this, but it's my boom to draw reptiles as beasts. This Togeo-chan has a missing upper jaw and is characterized by the shape of his mouth. It's one of my favorite illustrations, so I was happy that graniph chose it.

graniph At first, we proposed using a patch, but we told you that we wanted to change it to embroidery in order to express the texture of Togeo's fluffy body through the flow of threads. So, we asked "We will definitely finish it cool, so please take a look at the finished product!" 

Ayako I thought patch would be better, but when I actually saw the embroidery, it was nice to see the beautiful colours and textures. You've never seen clothes like this before. It made me want to say, "I found a strange sweatshirt at a second-hand clothing store" (laughs).


We are happy when Mrs. Ishiguro says "that looks creepy".


graniph We like this collared shirt. We were happy when Mrs. Ishiguro said, "This pink Baku is creepy and good.".

Ayako In our occult-horror industry, "creepy" is a compliment.

graniph If so, We're very honored (laughs). Graniph's customers also expect something like this that has never been seen before, and we are also aiming for a design that can only be produced by graniph.

Ayako You put this together well. The combination of the Baku, the unicorn, and the laughing cat from "Ayako Ishiguro's work collection" with lion flame is very novel and interesting.


I challenged myself with unusual “cute” items.


── There are many cute themed items this time.

graniph We've been interested in Alice themed works for several years. When we proposed a T-shirt with this design, Mrs. Ishiguro said, "How about a hoodie dress instead of a T-shirt?", so we made this.

Ayako I thought it would be cute if a small girl wore this hoodie. The other day, a junior high school girl who came to my solo exhibition was wearing a graniph's jacket with an A-Un cat embroidered on the back in a baggy size with a skirt, and it looked really good on her. At that time, I was wearing the same jacket, but I agreed, saying, "That way of dressing is correct" (laughs). This design, my younger daughter says "cute!" I don't know the latest trends in young people's fashion, so I sometimes ask my close friends and daughters to get their opinions.

graniph I see. This time, we dared to put out something cute and challenged the taste that we had never done before. When we showed you the design of the previous long jacket,  you didn't really get it, but we were like "it's going to be cute!"  and we proceeded. We were happy because you really liked the samples.


── Do you also create the brush strokes that appear in your works and the seals that appear on your T-shirts?


Ayako I write the letters myself. The seal was made by a friend of mine, a designer named Super Jet Joe. He designed the romaji ISHIGURO AYACO vertically. It's cool.

graniph We were impressed when we realized that this was in romaji!


Each character's story unfolding in my head.


── Mrs. Ishiguro, when you draw an artwork, do you decide on your own settings? Or does your imagination expand as you draw?

Ayako I do both. I used to draw yokai, so when I need to draw something accurate, I do some research, but for the most part I do whatever I want. In the case of "Cat's Tongue Mushroom", when I exhibited it, there was a theme of "with a cat's tongue". I thought that if it was a cat tongue, it would be tongue, so I drew it long, and mushrooms were strangely popular at the time, so I put them on top. It was pretty fun to draw, so I thought I'd try drawing with various other mushrooms, and it spread. I think I often have a theme in my mind and think about it by fleshing it out. Like, growing fangs to turn insects into monsters, or growing hair to turn reptiles into mammals. Once I come up with one thing, I arrange it and make a series.


── It's true that Ishiguro-san's paintings have an energy that makes them seem like the start of a drama.

Ayako The quintuplets that appear in the picture book "Nekomatagoyomi" are also set to be able to use sorcery. I'm from the Weekly Jump Magazine generation, so I like to think of settings like JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. The quintuplets are also different, with one witch making minerals come out of its body, another witch making plants come out, another witch making itself cows, and so on. I have a story in my head.



graniph From the "Neko Matagoyomi" book, we designed and proposed the "Neko Neko Carnival" scene in Kisaragi's page, but it wasn't quite right, and then you suggested, "For example, how about this?" so we chose to use "Shichigonyan" in One Piece.

Ayako I didn't think you would choose that. If this is left unsold, there will be pressure (laughs).

graniph It was fun to explore Mrs. Ishiguro's sensory and theoretical senses while thinking about this and that. There are a lot of products that were created through a fun exchanging the ideas, so we would like our customers to look forward to the lineup.

Ayako Especially, I would like people to wear items for women and children. I also wear the clothes of my works that I like, but when I feel embarrassed to wear them with young people, I try to wait for a few years before wearing them. If you leave it for two or three years, you'll be like, "What's that shirt? (Innovative!)" so it's okay (laughs).




Ayako Ishiguro

Born in 1973. Illustrator. Picture book artist. She mainly draws creative creatures, yokai and monster cats. While working on picture books, book covers, illustrations, etc., she is active in holding solo exhibitions and participating in special exhibitions. She enjoys looking after her cats and reptiles and watching movies in her room.


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