Illustrator Toma Vagner is a not so straightforward artist. She manages to capture a sense of doing in every illustration. This varies from random objects put together to body parts or human conducting doing a job to a chaotic composition that breathes ease. Do you understand why we are excited about this emerging artist from Japan? Read her full story below.
Cover photo: © Toma Vagner
Youth in Japan
Illustrator Toma Vagner grew up on the tiny island Sakhalin in the very east of Russia, right above Japan. At that articular island, creating art pieces was viewed as a hobby, not as a job. When she was 17, Vagner discovered an art school in New York City and applied for it. She started as a graphic design student, but secretly switched to illustration in her first year. Her parents didn’t know about it. She recently graduated and now takes jobs from Harry Styles and other big names.
Despite Vagner has moved to New York, she has never let her heritage disappear from her work. You see many Japanese and Korean influences in every illustration. Her childhood forms a huge inspiration for her work. Think of Jenga, Rubiks cubes and Backgammon.
However, not just Japanese games influenced her work. Vagner’s dad used to be a sailor and traveled to Japan a lot. Furthermore, the island was occupied by Japan during the 50ies and therefore there are many visible signs of Japan on the island.
Her father kept on sailing and took many Japanese objects with him back home. This has inspired her a lot. Comic books, bubble gum wrap papers and cartoons are just a few of them.
Among Vagner’s illustrations, she develops series. One of her great series is called Fairytales and is about deconstructions of children’s stories. It is interesting to see how she combines different stories, perspectives and angles that make her illustrations visually attractive and interesting to watch. The longer you look at it, the more new stories you discover. The strength of her work lies in the fact that she combines unexpected objects, such as fairytales and Soviet pamphlets. By doing so, her work makes you see today’s simple objects and compositions as artistic potential.