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Urban Outfitters Interview with Alumna Satsuki Shibuya

UO Interviews: Satsuki Shibuya

California painter Satsuki Shibuya (’09 Communication Artscreates beautifully subtle watercolors that are each quiet meditations on color and intuition: discover more about her work and inspiration in our interview with the artist.  


Can you share more about how you approach one of your pieces? How do you start?
Before I start my day, I have a morning ritual consisting of meditation, yoga, reading, and journaling, which helps to align my body, mind, and soul. By having this time, it allows for the part of myself that's connected to the universe to come through, instead of the need to paint something purely for materialistic purposes. After that, it is just a matter of letting go and being one with the moment.

When did you first start painting?
I first began painting about a year and a half ago. Before this, I never imagined myself ever painting nor did I have any interest in learning how to paint. I do remember take a painting class during elementary school, but concluded that it was not something enjoyed. Hence, it is even more of a mystery—albeit a wonderful one—that now I cannot imagine myself doing anything else.

You’ve mentioned in past interviews being inspired by nature: how does it play a role in your work?
Nature, in itself, is calming, soothing, raw, bliss, tranquility, and beauty. It is the embodiment of spirit and all that surrounds us. Nature inspires me because it is a part of myself that I experience while I’m living, yet expressed in a way that requires no words and no actions. It is a majestic and a gentle reminder to live as I am, appreciating who I am, and create work that fully embodies this idea.

What are some recent colors, palettes, textures, or shapes that have been interesting to you?
I seem to be attracted to muted, soft, gentle colors, especially peaches, off-whites, multi-toned grays with hints of black. Cascading mountains covered in snow with black rocks peeking through intrigue me, as do ripples created by melting ice that create muddied grays, browns, and forest greens speckled with grays.

Textured watercolor paper and how the water and paint sit, seep, and flow on such surfaces can capture my attention for hours. Organic shapes, shapes that only exist in the mind, shapes undefined by geometry. These are the things that make me a hermit in my studio and work. 


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