Redefining Art With Pen and Ink Artist Rieco Komiya

By Alexandra Homma
May 12, 2016
Lifestyle

For someone like me, whose paintings back in high school were good for nothing other than be placed in dark, horror house setups during school festivals, the whole concept of art and drawing seemed too complex—something only for natural born talents or those with a lifetime of training. Recently, though, I had the opportunity to meet Rieco Komiya, a young pen and ink artist from Tokyo's Ota Ward, who made me see art from a whole new angle. She reminded me that you don't necessarily need to be born with great artistic skill—just make it unique, cool and inspiring (to you)!

Born and raised in Tokyo’s Ota ward, Rieco Komiya began creating pen art three years ago just by coincidence. At the time, Rieco was looking for an India-inspired design for her new business cards. Being fond of mehndi, or henna art, she decided to grab a pen and draw her own design to use as a logo. Little did she know that this was the first step in launching a new career as an artist and establishing her original Riku Art.

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Today, Rieco’s pen art covers postcards, brooches, accessories, bags, shoes, clothes, mirrors and even traditional shamisen with beautiful flower, dot and figure designs done in simple, black ink. Her artwork has appeared at the Royal Park Hotel The Haneda, HandMade In Japan Fes, various galleries, flea markets and exhibition corners across Tokyo—in addition to all of the private requests she receives on a daily basis for custom-made orders.

With a background in music, Rieco never had any advanced education in art or design, nor really the inclination for it. She laughs when asked if she ever imagined she would one day be called “an artist.”

“It never even occurred to me. It all really started as a hobby.”

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A unique feature of Rieco’s art is that, despite looking highly sophisticated, she uses very simple tools and never relies on sketches in advance. “This is an ¥80 pen,” she says, smiling and pointing at her equipment. Her designs take form as she draws. “I never have an image in my mind when I start drawing,” Rieco says. “It develops as it goes.” And while you may imagine that she has a large atelier where she produces her designs, you may be surprised to learn that she likes working in cafés while sipping a cup of freshly brewed coffee. “I’m a nomad artist,” the 30-year-old says.

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Where Rieco gets her inspiration from is a secret, but what isn’t a secret is that her art is developing day-by-day into a varied collection of beautiful everyday objects. Her original works can be ordered directly through her website (Japanese only) or at flea markets and private exhibitions in Tokyo. Prices range from ¥150 to several thousand yen depending on the piece. Rieco also accepts custom orders. And when she’s not in a café drawing with her earphones on, she’s always interested in a chat about art, coffee and how the simple things we do can change our lives.

Check out the video below and feel free to leave us a comment to let us know if you have any questions for Rieco!

Originally from Bulgaria, Alexandra came to Japan as a teenager and has—as of 2015—officially spent half of her life here, studying, working and enjoying Japan’s culture and outdoors. A true lover of coffee, her hobby is exploring Tokyo's cafes, and she doesn't mind a train ride of two or three hours just for a sip of a carefully dripped, hot, black cup of java.

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