Yuki Uebo’s busy and dynamic illustrations are inspired by her love of crowds
The illustrator fuses Japanese stereotypes and an authentic experience of her culture.
There’s just something about large crowds; they continue to be one of our greatest reminders of togetherness and common interest. In Yuki Uebo’s practice, she can’t get enough of them, as they’ve been one of her greatest loves since she was a child. “It’s probably because I grew up in Tokyo,” she tells us. “There’s a certain excitement I get when I see places packed with people.” Using the power she feels among a gathering of people to fuel her illustration practice, she incorporates this visual density into her practice across editorial commissions and personal work.
Inspired by other moments in daily life and ephemera – in the form of 70-year-old photographs that she recently found of her relatives – her personal illustrations often take on the form of ceremonial family gatherings, “like a Japanese wedding or funeral”. Having spent several years in the United Kingdom, she has become evermore aware of Japanese stereotypes and began weaving them into her work. The Kimono and Sumo are commonly found throughout her pieces, as she was shocked to see them so heavily associated with her culture, because in Japan “they weren’t a part of daily life,” she tells us. So, as she mixes these fantasy images with aspects of her personal heritage, her work is a testament to the beauty of creating from all that surrounds you.
Yuki Uebo: My great grandmother and her friends (Copyright © Yuki Uebo, 2023)
About the Author
Yaya (they/them) is a staff writer at It's Nice That, with a particular interest in Black visual culture. They have previously written for publications such as WePresent, and worked as researcher and facilitator for Barbican and Dulwich Picture Gallery.