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I am absolutely stoked to bring you an interview with artist Yoko White of On the Wall. I first glimpsed her lovely embroidery work on etsy and fell in love. I Pinned about all of it. She’s an expert at juxtaposing traditional and modern styles.  I’d love to have a wall filled with her colorful pieces.

p.s. Don’t you love the sign she made for us?!

Have you been formally trained as an artist? (If so, where, and which degrees do you have?)
Actually I was trained as a make-up artist. It was a 2-year diploma at Sheridan College in Oakville Ontario, Canada.  Growing up in Japan’s school system helps a lot as well. Many of the techniques I learned came from grade school!

Have you always loved making things? What do you love most about it?
I have loved making things since I was a little girl. I used to make lots of doll clothes, and surprised a few elementary teachers during classes. (It was mandatory for students to take cooking and sewing classes.)

I tried oil painting, water coloring, and scriptures though elementary to high school, but I love needlecraft the most, then wood carvings. Both mediums take a long time to finish, but because of that reason I feel so proud of my work and it makes me very happy. Making embroidered art is my addiction for sure…

How did you embark upon a career as a crafter/artist? Do you have a “day job” too?
It was my hobby first, it is still now. About 2 years ago, I really start to enjoy making embroidered wall art. I learned basic techniques for embroidery from books. And I start to make things, lots of them.

Last year, my sister–in-law advised me to sell them. And I thought it was a great idea–stay home with my kids, work at home doing what I like. I think it is turning out great.

Currently I work as a lunch monitor in my kid’s school for an hour. It is only a part-time job and I can check on my kids. 

How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I think my design aesthetic is what I learned and received from my experiences in both Japanese and North American cultures.

Much of your work is a combination of embroidery and Japanese calligraphy. How did you decide to put these two media together?
When I was between grades 4 to 5 I took calligraphy class after school. I did a pretty good job actually. I finished with grade 2-dan. My work was displayed on the wall at school a couple of times. It was nice Zen time for me and I really enjoyed it. I am always thinking about what I am going to do next, and thought about making traditional black and white calligraphy in a more colourful and unique way. And I hope this mixed culture that I bring makes someone happy like I am.

Name three things that inspire you…
Nature, history, and family!

What are your hobbies and interests outside of your work?
I love going canoeing and fishing with my family. My husband and I have a silly competition for who can catch the most every year. We are very silly people. I like to work in our garden in the spring and summer also. We have a very short spring and summer, so it is nice to feel the warm weather and enjoy nature before snow comes down.

Ok, you’re stranded on a desert island. Which five things can’t you live without?
My husband and kids, oh wait things…Internet access, toothbrush, fishing net, tarp…Ok, sorry, I am a big fan of survivor. This question is changing to survivor things.

Thank you so much, Yoko! It has been such a pleasure having you at Gypsy Mind. Check out Yoko’s shop, On the Wall for more of her beautiful work.

xoxo, Shannon

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