I had the pleasure of meeting Akiko for the first time at a SCBWI Houston conference. At Houston’s conference, this past April, I got to experience, first hand and up close, her cake artistry. (It was delicious, see below)
She calls them, “cakelustrations.” I can see this word going viral someday and possibly getting a spot in Webster’s dictionary.
Akiko is an avid baker who recently included this aspect into her illustrations. She has been enjoying art and baking since she took a painting class with her mother and started baking with her grandmother at the young age of 4 years old.
She received a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the McNay Art Institute in 1993 and worked as a professional illustrator and graphic designer. In 2011, Akiko became the Illustrator Coordinator for the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators Southwest Texas Region.
Akiko recently won the 2014 Tomie dePaola award through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. This first cakelustration was composed of a fondant and (of course) cake. Her recent picture book project is a poem by Eugene Fields about a Fly Away Horse. All her illustrations will be done with cake as my medium. Akiko is represented by Rising Bear Literary.
At the present, Akiko is enjoying life on the farm in the Texas hill country and gathers inspiration from her past, her children and the many animals on the farm.
I am pleased she took the time from illustrating to answer a few simple questions for my blog friends.
ME: Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
AKIKO: I’m a pretty good roller skater.
ME: I wondered, four-wheels or blades. I’m a four-wheeler myself.
ME: Do you have a nickname?
AKIKO: Aki. That is the name my friends called me growing up and it is the name that most of my family calls me. When I was in kindergarten, the children couldn’t pronounce Akiko, so they started calling me Aki.
ME: I think you have such a cool, original name.
ME: What is your greatest accomplishment?
AKIKO: Personally- having three healthy children and a happy marriage. Career- Winning the Tomie dePaola this past year.
ME: Life is good.
ME: What motivates you in your illustrating career?
AKIKO: Books, stories, movies and art. I get inspired from my peers too! That’s what I love about this career. We are all there to cheer each other on.
ME: What book character would you be and why?
AKIKO: I would like to be Stillwater in the book Zen Shorts by Jon Muth. I could sit around telling deep stories, paint pictures and eat cake all day long!
ME: Sounds like a perfect life.
I want to thank Akiko for our Tiny Talk and sharing some intimate details about herself. I wish her much success in her “cakelustrations.” I hope to see you again soon, Aki, my friend.