Asahi Nagata


Minneapolis, MN

As a lover of traditional printmaking, Japanese illustrator Asahi Nagata has taken the art form and transformed it into her own unique version of digital artwork. Asahi’s extraordinary, print-like pieces are full of brilliant color with a hint of vintage elegance and texture.

“A daytime octopus.”

When you get a new project from Blue Q, how do you begin? What’s the starting point?

I had seen Blue Q products in many gift shops, so it was exciting when I got to design one. I enjoy brainstorming the design of a product as the first step, imagining what would be exciting for me to find at the local gift shop.

Listen to music while you work? Anything special in your work space that unleashes your creative juices?

While I work I listen to All Night Nippon, Japanese midnight radio programs. Amongst various ANN programs by musicians, actors, etc., my go-to programs are broadcasted by comedians, and I have been listening to them since high school. They help me to stay at the desk and work through long night hours. ANN has been a routine for me for over 14 years. Even when I don’t feel like working, I turn on ANN and I get in the mood to work. I can basically say my job is illustrator / radio listener.

Morning bird or night owl?

A daytime octopus.

Where do you work? What’s your workspace like? Any objects you’ve had for a long time?

I work at the big — too big for our small apartment, what was I thinking? — dining table in the middle of our apartment, AKA, I don’t have a fancy office … just yet!

What was your favorite thing to draw as a child? Why did that lodge in your head?

I would collect complimentary wooden ice cream spoons from the grocery store, and customize each one by drawing different faces, hair, and clothes on them, front and back. Each doll had a distinguishable character and personality and background, and I would create stories using these dolls. These were basically free Barbies, and I created over 100 of them. I would also often draw scenery with lots of people in them. I must have always enjoyed drawing characters.