The making of this illustration was memorable because it happened when Covid-19 had hit and a major lockdown order had been issued by the Canadian government.
This meant that I had close to no access to flowers from shops and on top of that, I had little to work with in terms of seasonal wildflowers during that time of year in the northern region. I had to find a solution...and fast. During the lockdown, only businesses that were considered "essential" were allowed to stay open to the public. This meant that I had access to food and ingredients which I quickly found that it would be perfect for this illustration. After all, this work was for a food magazine and when we really think about it, vegetables are plants so it really felt like not much was different from how I usually work.
Sean's many tattoos are illustrations of different ingredients that I'm assuming he loves to work with: radishes, peas, cherry tomatoes and purple maize just to name a few. It was obvious that he felt a strong connection to these consumables. I took this as the main inspiration for this image and applied it on a Japanese styled tattoo dragon.
Reading Thomas's text felt like flipping through his photo journal where I got to witness from his perspective, both the good and the more challenging experiences that he has had in Japan while launching his restaurant Inua in Tokyo downtown.
My initial vision was to create a memory box with different compartments filled with botanicals but that ended up looking like an embellished bento-box and moreover, felt like it has been seen many times before inside of a food magazine. Therefore, I opted for something that was a little more outside the box and closer to my artistic style: a collection of floral butterflies where each butterfly represents a picture from Thomas's photo book.
As I was reading Andoni's text, it was very obvious that he had a lot of admiration for the Japanese culinary traditions. Among those was the art of sushi making. The way he beautifully described his experience with sushi as a genuine introduction to the Japanese cuisine and culture was my source of inspiration for making this image.
I wanted to reinterpret his view for the Japanese art of making sushi: How each step is perfected and maintained with consistency in such a ways that to an untrained eyes, the process may look simple and easy. Similarly to the deceivingly complex art of making sushi, the art of Japanese calligraphy is also a highly regarded art form in Japan. The idea was to create an image that was inspired by calligraphy brush stroke. A piece of driftwood that I found in the country-side was a perfect fit for this. The wood was laid over a bed of dark pebbles which serves as a light reference to the thick calligraphy ink. I then filled the tray with water to connect different elements of nature and to creating a sense of movement: just like Andoni expressed in his text, the way he feels the Japanese culture was sculpted by the determined force of waves hitting the shore. This photoshoot was a bit tricky as I had to control the water flow and the direction of the floating flower petals at the same time as shooting these pictures.