A Toast to Sake Illustration

In early 2019, I published a series of posts on local sake production in Niigata Prefecture, Japan; one on a sake brewery, and another on a local sake shop in Kameda. I made some illustrations based on these visits, and posted some of these on Instagram, taking care to tag the establishments which I had visited.

When I was in Niigata again in January 2020 for the new year, I went back to Watago Sake-ten; the Kameda sake shop that I had visited in January 2019, to buy some sake. One of the owners, Kazuhiko Terada, happened to be there and remembered my Instagram post of the previous year. I had my portfolio in my bag, so he flicked through it. One of the illustrations was a study of two sake bottles, done in coloured pencil, which we had bought from his shop during out first visit.

He requested a copy of the drawing, and the happy result is that my illustration is now hanging on the wall of Watago Sake-ten in Niigata.

Photo courtesy of Nanako Terada, Watago Sake-ten

This episode made me feel very grateful for what I have, and the interest that was showed in my work. This is the first time that my work is being displayed in a public place, and I’m very happy that one of my drawings is hanging on the wall of such an interesting independent retailer, which is so involved in its local community.

As I work to improve my editorial illustration, I often find myself thinking about how I can make my illustrations more refined or conceptual. However, drawing from life and depicting items as I see them will probably always be my favorite way of drawing. Instead of worrying about creativity, or whether or not an idea is being adequately expressed, there is something incredibly refreshing about sitting down with a pencil and a piece of paper and simply drawing whatever happens to be in front of you – even if it’s a bottle of alcohol!

I had taken a long break from food illustration throughout 2019 to focus on illustration based on text (articles; poetry etc). However, after this experience, I think I’ll embrace the impulse to draw my meals (and drinks) a little more often in 2020.

With thanks to Nanako and Kazuhiko Terada, and Watago Sake-ten in Niigata – do visit if you find yourself in town.

Photos courtesy of Nanako Terada; Watago Sake-ten.