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The Interview: Kaoru Yamada

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Kaoru Yamada

An Illustrator & AI Artist

Rachna Singh, Editor, The Wise Owl, talks to Kaoru Yamada an illustrator, copywriter, and AI artist. She is passionate about depicting beauty, whether in the digital world or through AI. She finds beauty in nature and in the everyday lives of people. Kaoru was born and raised in Japan, a country with a rich history and culture. She still creates her unique works there.  Kaoru Yamada's journey to pursue beauty is still ongoing. She is always looking for new ways to express her creativity.

The Interview : Kaoru Yamada

Rachna Singh, Editor, The Wise Owl, talks to Kaoru Yamada an illustrator, copywriter, and AI artist. She is passionate about depicting beauty, whether in the digital world or through AI. She finds beauty in nature and in the everyday lives of people. Kaoru was born and raised in Japan, a country with a rich history and culture. She still creates her unique works there. One of the things that influences her creative activities is her research on "wills" in college. She mainly studied people who were executed as war criminals in World War II. The words left for their loved ones, which can be seen between the lines of the censored text, had a great influence on her later. Kaoru Yamada's journey to pursue beauty is still ongoing. She is always looking for new ways to express her creativity.

Thank you Kaoru for taking time to talk with The Wise Owl.

RS: For the benefit of our readers please tell us what made you gravitate towards art and spurred you on to become an illustrator. What were the creative influences that made you the artist you are today?

KY: During my student years, I had to read numerous wills, which led to a difficult time emotionally. It was during this challenging time that I encountered Piet Mondrian's "Composition." The abstract expression and vibrant colors captivated my heart, bringing a sense of tranquility and peace. This was the first time I was struck by the power of art.

However, it wasn't until after I left my job as a copywriter at an advertising agency that I decided to become an illustrator. I started working as a freelancer but struggled to find work, which made me feel uncertain about my future. Around that time, I came across the phrase "taking stock of oneself," and upon reevaluating my skills and experience, I realised that drawing illustrations was my strength and passion.

I decided to submit my illustrations to a stock photo company. Illustrators typically create works according to client requests, but with stock photos, it was a gamble whether my freely created works would catch someone's eye and be appreciated. However, I was drawn to the idea of working at my own pace and decided to give it a try.

Gradually, my illustrations started gaining attention, and I began receiving direct job offers. I found great fulfillment in knowing that my work was helpful and enjoyable to others, and this led me to embark on the path of an illustrator.


RS: You are an illustrator and a self-proclaimed AI artist. What inspired you to incorporate AI into your artistic process?

KY: The emergence of generative AI was a game-changer. I was impressed and immediately tried it out. However, the results didn't align with my vision, so I quickly abandoned it. But later, I saw an AI-generated artwork win a contest. It had a traditional feel yet felt innovative. I realized that AI wasn't just about typing in text; there might be something to it if I learned to use it properly. At the time, I found a book titled "Midjourney: 32 prompts to copy and paste" and started experimenting with the prompts. I would take a prompt, modify the keywords, adjust the style descriptions, and see how the AI responded. It was a process of trial and error, but it allowed me to gradually understand how to guide the AI towards the images I envisioned.

I still hesitate to call myself an AI artist, sometimes referring to myself as an AI creator instead. While illustrators create according to client requests, AI-generated works are expressions of my own creativity, which is why I consider them art.


RS: For the benefit of our readers, could you walk us through your typical creative process when starting a new project? Could you also share an example of a project where AI played a crucial role in the outcome.

KY: My ideas for paintings mostly come from my own experiences, including movies and books. I usually start by sketching the image that comes to mind on paper. However, when I can't grasp a concrete image or want to try a new way of expression, I utilize AI. For example, recently, I had AI generate an image from the idea of "a strange landscape I saw in a dream." It generated a fantastical landscape I had never imagined, and I gained inspiration from it. By inputting more detailed prompts and processing the generated images, I refined the expression as if having a conversation with AI. Finally, I made detailed adjustments using digital tools and was excited to share the finished piece on social media.


RS: Our readers would be curious to know how you balance traditional illustration techniques with AI-generated elements in your work?

KY: The balance between AI and traditional techniques varies depending on the work. For example, sometimes I add hand-drawn elements or adjust the color tone based on the image generated by AI, and other times I incorporate hand-drawn sketches into AI to add texture and quality. In either case, AI is just a tool to support my creation, and I believe that combining it with my own sensibilities and techniques is essential to enhance the final quality of the artwork.


RS: Every art form, genre and technique has its challenges and rewards. What are some of the biggest challenges you face when working with AI in your art ?

KY: One of the biggest challenges I face when using AI in my art is controlling the output of the AI model. Sometimes AI generates images that are different from my intentions. Also, since the images generated by AI are based on existing data, I find it difficult to create truly original expressions. To overcome these challenges, I am refining my skills in crafting effective prompts and adding my own interpretations to the images generated by AI to deepen my dialogue with AI and pursue expressions that are closer to my image.


RS: Today there are two divergent narratives about the use of AI in literature and art. How do you address concerns or criticisms regarding AI's role in creative fields? Do you think AI can fully replicate the emotional depth and nuance of human-created art?

KY: There are various opinions about the role AI plays in the creative field, but I see AI as a tool to augment human creativity. By learning from vast amounts of data, AI has the potential to generate ideas and expressions that humans cannot. However, at this point, AI is merely an entity that generates output according to human instructions, and it is the human's role to judge the quality of the work. It is still difficult for AI to fully understand and reproduce human emotions and nuances.

While there is a possibility that new artistic expressions will be born through collaboration between AI and humans, I do not believe that AI will replace human creativity. AI is merely a tool to support human creativity, and the ultimate value of a work is determined by human sensibility and skill.


RS: How do your audience and peers respond to your AI-integrated artwork?


KY: My work is generally well-received on social media, and I often receive comments from my followers that my work is warm, has a great sense of color, and has wonderful composition. However, there are cases where I lose contact with potential clients after informing them that I use AI in my illustration work. This may indicate that the understanding and acceptance of AI-generated art is still evolving, or that the use of AI may not align with some client's preferences or project requirements.

On the other hand, as far as I know, there are not many illustrators who incorporate AI into their illustration work yet. Perhaps there are concerns about AI or a desire to establish their own style.


RS: You have done some prolific work in melding traditional art and AI practices. What advice would you give to aspiring artists who are interested in exploring AI in their work?


KY: I have only been creating art with AI for about a year, but I have learned a lot through trial and error. AI is a powerful tool that can greatly expand our creativity, but at the same time, it takes time and effort to master.

First, the quality of the images generated by AI depends heavily on the quality of the prompts. Therefore, it is important to have the skill to express your image accurately in words. Also, instead of using the images generated by AI as they are, you can create original works by adding your own touch to them.

For those who want to try AI art, I recommend that you first try various AI tools to understand their characteristics. Don't be afraid to experiment and make mistakes. Then, have a clear vision of what you want to create and think about how you can use AI to achieve it.


RS: Are you working on a new project as we speak? Would you like to share details of the project with our readers and viewers.


KY: I am currently continuing to create works using AI and exploring new ways of expression every day. In particular, I am aiming to establish my own unique style by combining abstract images generated by AI with concrete motifs drawn by hand. In addition to sharing my work on social media, I am also eager to participate in exhibitions and other events if given the opportunity, to share my work with a wider audience.


Thank you Kaoru for talking with The Wise Owl. We wish you the very best in all your creative and artistic pursuits.

Recent work of Kaoru Yamada

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A Vase of Defiance

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A Quiet Life

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Night at the Seaside

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Rainlit Reverie

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The Watcher

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Twilight Bookstore

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