Last year, VKH Had the pleasure of sitting down with Kira Imai to discuss how she got started in art, design, and fashion, and her future plans. In the past, her illustrations and designs have been used for LINE and have been utilized in designs by Angelic Pretty. Her artwork is recognized by the lolita community. Check out what she had to say below!
VKH: Would you please introduce yourself to our readers and give a brief description of yourself?
Kira Imai: My name is Kira Imai, I do illustrations of mainly lolita fashion in Japan. I may be best known for my illustrations for the lolita brand Angelic Pretty
VKH: When did you start drawing and how has your artwork evolved since you began drawing?
Kira Imai: I went to junior college and began my study of art there, and began my drawing after. When I began publishing my work on my website that's when Angelic Pretty noticed me and began giving me work. I was drawing lolita fashion illustrations when I started and I’m still doing that.
VKH: Where do you find inspiration for your artwork?
Kira Imai: I don’t really have anything that is conscientiously an inspiration because I consider my daily life so infused with lolita that it just naturally gets incorporated into what I draw.
VKH: Many Lolitas are familiar with you through your work for the brand Angelic Pretty. What meaningful experiences have you had through this long-standing collaboration?
Kira Imai: For my illustrations that are not done for Angelic Pretty I tend to go with a style that is more simple which is more like Classical Lolita, but what I do for Angelic Pretty is much more like Sweet Lolita; more pastels and more embellished. It’s not a style that I would come up with on my own so that experience has broadened my style and reflects on what I can draw when I’m drawing for myself.
VKH: In your opinion, what does Lolita have the power express that can't be found anywhere else?
Kira Imai: A certain type of girliness.
VKH: Do you have a favorite artist or an artist that you really admire? Do those artists' styles affect your style or technique?
Kira Imai: Back when I was a student I had my favorite illustrators but since becoming a professional I’ve intentionally been avoiding other people’s work.
VKH: Pursuing art as a career can be difficult, especially in cultures like America where art is valued but not recommended to work in. What advice would you give to anyone who would like to do what you do?
Kira Imai: I would say the situation about career recommendations are the same in Japan and there are a lot of lolita girls who want to go into illustration. A few things that I tell them is to persevere with your inspirations and continue to hone your skills because the only way for opportunity to come to you when you persevere and build up your confidence so you are prepared when an opportunity comes to you.
VKH: What are some of your favorite pastimes outside of art?
Kira Imai: Some of my favorite pastime activities would be fashion and looking at antique furniture. As I mentioned before what I do in my daily routine become the inspiration for my work. My other favorite pastime would be my cat.
VKH: When your mood fluctuates, from a good day to a bad day, how can that affect your art work?
Kira Imai: On days like that no matter how many illustrations I do they all turn bad so I give up and go to bed.
VKH: What are you working on next?
A: Recently I’ve been working on fashion collaborations, one pieces, umbrellas, etc. I’m also working on other types of pieces. Also I have not done a personal exhibition in a while so I would like to plan for that next year.
Special thanks to Kira Imai for taking the time to answer our questions!