At school, art was my favourite class. Creative projects were the only ones I was actually excited to work on and didn’t leave to the last minute. Sadly, it quickly became clear that: (a) Maths – rather than art – was what I was pressured to focus on (b) I wasn’t particularly talented at drawing, singing and pretty much all other well-respected forms of art… However, reflecting on it today, I wonder whether that was true or whether it was what I was led to believe. What if it was a diabolical ruse established to make sure we all fit in and keep progressing along the reputed path? Watching Ken Robinson’s unbelievable talk comforted me in that gloomy realisation. Luckily, today’s interviewee didn’t succumb to the same pressures and pursued her love of art to the point of taking it beyond borders. This is Japanese Artist Astuko and here is her story…
1. Tell us a bit about yourself…
Hi, my name is Astuko. I am a Japanese visual artist, art director, and graphic designer. I am from Japan where I am currently based. Previously, I have lived in the United Kingdom where I studied for my master’s degree. I have also had the chance to travel and live for short periods of time in several countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Germany, Denmark and more.
2. When and how did you become an artist? 
To be honest, I always do what interests me and so I believe I became an artist before even knowing it. When I was a little girl, I was interested in foreign culture more than in art and design. However, I used to think and express my feelings in a different way to others, which often made me feel a bit uncomfortable as a child. Although I grew up in a family of artists – my granddad was a painter and some of my relatives were painters, sculptors, and artisans… one of them was even nominated a ‘living national treasure’ – I remained unaware of my own deep interest in art for a quite while. At University, I studied Sociology and English. I then went on to take a course in design. It was then, as I was creating TSUBOMI candle, that I truly understood the meaning behind ‘immersion in creation is suffering and supreme bliss’.
3. Where do you find inspiration?
Anywhere. Especially when I work on specific themes, everything I see, hear, and touch turns out to be a clue and to generate ideas. Everything then comes together in my creations.
4. What made you decide to focus on the topic of home?
At the time, my creative space was a house and so I set out to work on the theme of ‘home’. I wanted to look at ‘home’, not only as a physical place, but approach it from a broader perspective. That led me to begin a collaboration with various foreign artists. Together, we focused on exploring the differences and similarities in our personal and universal perspectives of ‘home’.
5. What does home mean to you? 
To me, ‘home’ is more something to believe in rather than somewhere physical. Having had some wonderful experiences with people from other cultures as well as in foreign countries, I now have the feeling that I can survive anywhere in the world as long as I have something/someone around me to believe in.
6. Looking ahead, what are your future artistic hopes and plans? 
I don’t know what will happen next… I have always been interested in the topic of ‘communication’, so I will probably work on an art project around this topic.
7. Do you have any tips for aspiring artists?
I would recommend working together with other artists as collaborations often bring new perspectives and can be very stimulating.
8. Where / How can people keep up with your exciting artistic projects? 
If you would like to find out more about me and my projects, take a look at my websites:

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There you have it… Yet another amazing life story beyond borders! I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing from Astuko. If you also have a Be Beyond Borders experience you’d like to share, don’t be shy… Contact us today! https://bebeyondborders.comcontact/
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