Interview: Araki Koman on Freelance Illustration and Design, Overcoming Perfectionism, and Some Creative Reads

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This is an interview I'm really, REALLY excited about. The wonderful Araki Koman is a French illustrator, living in London, creating gorgeous designs using character and simplicity. In this short interview we chat about perfectionism, her training to become a freelance illustrator and designer, and what books she would recommend someone trying to feel that creative spark. I think Araki is wonderful, and I know you will too.

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Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Araki! Would you like to introduce yourself and what you do?

Araki Koman:
Thanks for having me! My name is Araki Koman, I am a freelance illustrator and designer from Paris, currently working from London.

Magic & Musings:
When did you first get into art? Was it something that was important to you in your childhood?

Araki Koman:
Yes, I was constantly drawing during my childhood and knew all about Paris art and design schools as a teenager. As an introvert, it was a way to express myself and daydream. I would always invent characters, usually women, who were wearing my dream outfits or look how I wanted to be.


Magic & Musings:
Have you received any formal art or illustration training?

Araki Koman:
Not right away. After high school I did a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in marketing, and worked a year and a half in digital marketing in Paris. It’s only after that that I decided to follow my childhood dreams and embrace my creative side. At 24, I moved to London to study graphic design for one year at Shillington College. Thanks to that certificate degree, I got my first job as a graphic designer right after and from there I explored textile and fashion design, and ended up focusing on illustration few years later through personal projects. 

Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female and non-binary artists and their work. Which artists, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look to when you need some inspiration or motivation?

Araki Koman:
There’s so many interesting female artists whose work I admire. Thanks to social media, especially Instagram, I get daily doses of inspiration from the women I follow. Those who inspire me the most and push me to express myself in different disciplines are Björk and Solange Knowles, but I am also a great fan of photography and absolutely love Sarah Moon, Carlota Guerrero, Viviane Sassen, and Nadine Ijewere’s work.


Magic & Musings:
What are your favourite tools to use to create your art?

Araki Koman:
I use the Muji pen 0.38 and the Faber Castell big brush felt tip pen. It has india ink inside, I love it!

Magic & Musings:
Are there any books on creativity and/or working for yourself you would recommend to others?

Araki Koman:

- Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

- Art Inc. by Lisa Congdon

Magic & Musings:
I watched an interview with you from Visual Interlude where you said you did not worry about being a perfectionist. What would you say to artists who struggle with perfectionism?

Araki Koman:
I am still struggling with it from time to time, but one thing I learned is that embracing the little imperfections in your work can give personality and depth to it. There’s something more human and organic about it that can create deeper connections with the public. I feel like letting go of trying to make something perfect can open doors to new avenues, which will be unique about you.


Magic & Musings:
What have been some of your favourite projects to work on? Of all of your illustrations, which are you happiest with and why?

Araki Koman:
I really enjoyed drawing the Global Couture series. In January 2017, I did one illustration a day, resulting in a collection of 31 drawings of women from 31 different countries and cultures. I really enjoyed researching and finally using my Pinterest board ‘Global Couture’ in which I have been collecting hundred of images of people wearing traditional outfits from around the world for years. I used those pictures as inspiration for the drawings. I loved it!

Magic & Musings:
I'm interested in knowing how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done?

Araki Koman:
It depends which task I am doing and in which season of my life I am in. When I am producing a lot of illustrations I like being in my home studio as it’s more intimate and I can easily be in the zone. However, when writing emails or dealing with invoices, working from coffee shops or libraries is totally fine. I love having a warm cup of chai latte and a Nujabes or Björk playlist in my earphones. 

Magic & Musings:
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

Araki Koman:
Going for a walk or doing anything that has nothing to do with art usually helps (washing the dishes or cooking for example) or even going to sleep. The key is not forcing inspiration to come. Starting projects close to deadlines is also a great catalyst to boost creativity but I wouldn’t recommend it all the time (laugh)… 


Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out working in this field?

Araki Koman:
There’s no one single way to be an artist. Create your own business model and career using the strengths and knowledge that you already have. 

Magic & Musings:
Fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you've enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song?

Araki Koman:

Albums: Satori by Lex (de Khalex) 

Magic & Musings:
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work?

Araki Koman:
Thanks for reading! If you want to keep in touch and discover my work you can find me on:


Instagram: @araki.koman

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