A few years ago, I picked up a mook called “style school”, which was published by dark horse but was sadly canceled after 3 volumes (all of which I own). Among the plethora of artists featured, one in particular stood out to me. And that artist was Tomo Fuuko, or Uko on Pixiv.
This was a small image, only taking up 1/4 of a page, but it mesmerized me. Sadly, like many others in that mook, she simply wasn’t a well known artist. Alongside her, I also wanted to find out more about Kaneda Chitari, shunpei, Ariake, Dite. I gave up soon after though, there’s simply not enough rabid fans of these people (it’s a sad world, this is, to understand that it’s easier to find art from someone like Aoi Hatori rather than Kaneda Chitari) . So, I pretty much forgot about her, until this fateful day where I stumbled across her pixiv page. And I honestly mean it too. If Eternal hadn’t written Sepia tears and asked me to draw, if I wasn’t stuck on an image and didn’t look at that page of danborru tagged with “snow”, if this was some other day where a link didn’t show up on シワス page, none of this would have happened
Anyway, back on topic, Uko’s favorite subject seems to be girls in traditional Japanese clothing. That in itself isn’t so rare, but it IS rare for someone to have a such soft, flowing, style, like slowly falling in distilled wind. It is also rare for me to love watercolors so much, as they tend to not stand out as much as CG, plus the texture of the watercolor paper is somewhat of an acquired taste. This is why I tend to prefer stuff that has a watercolor feeling but is mostly CG’d, such as the works of Shimeko or Takeoka Miho. For some reason though, Uko seems to get past the problems I usually have with watercolors. Maybe it’s because most of the watercolors I see are from Mangaka?
Let it be fortunately or unfortunately, she is extremely protective of her work, and says something along the lines of “unauthorized reproductions of my word are prohibited”. In fact, you can’t save images from her gallery, and I actually had to take a screen shot to get the above image, which is something that I haven’t done since Hayase Akira. Another interesting thing is that there are often poems besides the illustrations in her gallery, and they might be interesting if you can read Japanese.
Their gentleness, their warmth, all woven together with a poetic sense of nostalgia. No matter what, Uko’s illustrations make me smile.
Now, if only she was popular enough for an artbook…