Japanese Tea Ceremony

I had the pleasure of experiencing a traditional Japanese tea ceremony a few weeks ago at Vancouver’s Nitobe Memorial Garden. The ceremony took place at a tea house located in the garden called Ichobo-an.

01“Ichibo” in Japanese means “one view”. Whereas the experience of the garden was meant to symbolize a journey through life from birth to death, the tea house offers a perfect view of the garden – a view of the journey of life from birth through death! Here’s what the view looks like from Ichobo-an.

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 We got to the ceremony relatively late, so we ended up getting a terrific view of the back of the tea master’s head.

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Everything in the ceremony had a symbolic meaning, from the decorations of the interiors to the tools and cups to the gestures of the tea master and the participants. There was a very particular way that you had to turn the tea cup before slurping the tea.

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The Japanese ladies serving the tea were very sweet.

04Here’s a look at a couple of other participants at the tea ceremony.

03Lastly, when in Rome… here are some drawings done at the Nitobe Garden.

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Well, that wraps it up for the Haikucomics related blog posts! I hope that the blog posts have increased your appreciation for the comics, and vice versa. It definitely was enjoyable for me making them. 🙂

Aidan Koch Interview

Most of the people I know who draw comics would tell you the same story: they grew up reading comic books and learned to draw by copying their favourite panels of their favourite comics obsessively. After a while, they began creating their own characters and stories, and the next thing you know, they became adults and making comics has become a part of their lives. I have a hunch that’s not exactly how it went down for today’s special guest Aidan Koch.

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Several months ago, a friend of mine pointed me to Ms. Koch’s work. Although it was unique and refreshing, I regret to say that it didn’t wow or dazzle me at first sight. It wasn’t until later when I began working on My Eurydice that I developed a much deeper appreciation for the intense emotional quality and delicate sensitivity in her comics.

Aidan has graciously accepted a 5-question interview to help us spread the word about her peculiarly wonderful world of art. Let’s hear what she has to say!

 

Your take on the medium really stands out from what the world’s comic readers are used to seeing. What are some of your qualities that separate you from other comic artists?

Koch (K): I guess I just didn’t approach comics as ‘comics.’ Its true I never really read them growing up, except for some manga. The constructs and characteristics normally associated with the medium were just something I was not familiar with. So when I started putting my drawings into panels and sequences I just did it using intuition as a guide. As much as I’ve been building my style and approach, every comic I start ends up working totally different. I’m always interested extending the language I apply and learning new ways to make comics.

 

What made you decided to create comics? What are some of the characteristics to this medium that appeal to you?

K: I mean, it was kind of accidental that I began creating comics. I was making zines with a lot of drawing and text already, so they just kind of morphed into sequences. This really felt like the ‘next step’ in the work I was making. There’s an inherent dynamism to the medium that I think is generally underutilized. The audience is given a set of images which they process as connecting or related be-it in relation to time, story, or subject. The possibilities   and outcomes of this arrangement are infinite! I guess its just so much more engaging than single image art to me. I still do a lot of that, but it always feels like it has less heart than my sequential work.

 

It seems you are very practiced when it comes to drawing from life, but when it comes to comics, be it the characters, the dialogues, the emotional qualities, or even the actual drawings, how much of it is extracted from life?

K: Probably quite a bit, but in a really understated or abstracted sense. I often work with the ideas of isolation, self reflection, and nature, all of which are very very personal to me. I suppose I would say I use the themes from my life but not necessarily in any particular events or characters. My characters are more representational than as I imagine whole people with set backgrounds and histories. I tend to approach comics with the necessity to convey a tone over a ‘story.’ As for direct depictions, I regularly use photobooth on my computer to get positions for people and objects and plants that I own! I think visually, one could easily connect them to the environments I surround myself with.

 

What / who are your artistic influences?

K: I am a real sucker for classical beauty: impressionism, the figure, landscapes, marble statues! As for comics people though, I’ve found such an amazing group of inspirational peers, people like Ward Zwart, Anthony Cudahy, Blaise Larmee, Austin English, Martha Verschaffel, Johnny Negron, Ines Estrada, Lala Albert, Jason Overby, Dunja Jakovic, oh god, the list goes on…

 

It’s not easy making a living as an artist (especially one that makes comics). What do you aspire to achieve as an artist, and what can our blog readers do to help you get there?

K: On a very basic level, I’ve been operating as a self-employed person for almost two years, though I’m often confused on how I’ve managed. Though its often left me financially insecure, I can’t imagine losing this freedom. Certainly I hope to maintain myself at a larger scale than ‘breaking even’ but also I just want the ability to think and craft and develop my art on my own time. Comics are very consuming and though I’ve done a lot in the past couple years, I’m definitely hoping to expand my focus and do bigger more elaborate projects and stories. For anyone who hasn’t, check out my books!

 

And there you have it! Many thanks to Aidan for making this happen. If you haven’t already, make sure you check out her website: http://aidankoch.com/!