Osaka Brand Committee
Outenin Temple
Outenin Temple
digmeout (Dig-Me-Out) Installment 1
Avant-Garde x Entertaining x Open-Air Theater → Ishinha
Etching x Pastel → Sumako Yasui
Artist x Craftsperson → Yoko Matsumoto
Jokes x Art → Gendai Bijutsu Nitouhei
Sculpture x Flexibility → Kohei Nawa
Installations x Images → Chie Matsui
World Exhibition (Banpaku) x Future Ruins → Kenji Yanobe
Drive x Noise → Rogue’s Gallery
Self-Portrait x Art History → Yasumasa Morimura
 Listen (= Sound) x View (= Art) → Yukio Fujimoto
Yodogawa x Trash x Art→Yodogawa Technique
Biolgical field
Water city
Osaka Kaleidoscope
#9 Artist x Craftsperson → Yoko Matsumoto

Yoko Matsumoto

Designers and illustrators are often categorized as "artisans," a term referring to persons whose fields of endeavor lie between those of artists and craftspeople, or straddle the boundaries of both these categories. The author of this article defines artisans, with slightly more emphasis on artistic talent, as persons able to succeed in commercial fields, while also being skilled enough to succeed as independent artists. Considering this, Yoko Matsumoto, the subject of this article, is a truly remarkable contemporary Japanese artisan.

Yoko Matsumoto has been involved in art since she was in junior high school, where she participated in the school's art club, while also taking lessons from professional teachers. Her goal was always to become a professional artist. Matsumoto studied at the Kyoto City University of Arts, where she majored in printmaking. At university, she was greatly influenced by the late Hideo Yoshihara, who, in addition to being one of the best-known print masters of the Kansai area, was also one of her university professors. As contemporary art continued to boom in Kansai during the 1980s, Matsumoto spent her life immersed in art, not just within a university context, but also by going out almost every week to galleries for the exhibitions of friends and acquaintances. She also engaged in discussions with classmates and other young artists.

"Chinese tea time" 1999

  The look of Matsumoto's work, however, differs from stereotypical contemporary art. Since she was an art student, Matsumoto’s main subjects have been still-life forms, objects such as tables, chairs, tableware, plants, or fruit, etc. Instead of depicting people in her works, Matsumoto recognizes the ambient warmth of the human form who may have just stepped out of a scene. Using such warmth as an indicative, she suggests viewers use their own imagination and create stories for the scenes depicted. In the heat of the contemporary movement of her college years, Matsumoto both enjoyed art discussions and loved to get together and chat with close friends at somewhere other than art galleries. Tamame Akamatsu and the late Yoko Tanaka were among her close college friends, and with them Matsumoto formed an artist’s unit, "Artesia," in the early 1990s. This group held exhibitions and published their works in free community newspapers.

While presenting her artwork at various exhibitions, Matsumoto continued to actively take on jobs as an illustrator. In 1994, she moved to Tokyo, where the publishing industry is much larger than in the Kansai area, in order to get more illustration work from various publications. This proved to be a correct decision from a career point-of-view, with Matsumoto's illustrations consequently featuring widely in books and magazines. In 2000, she was offered and took a unique job as an instructor on the luxurious cruise ship, Nippon Maru (operated by Mitsui O.S.K Passenger Line). In this role, she gives passengers art lessons and teaches them water-color painting and rubber-block printing. Matsumoto, who loves to travel, has enjoyed seeing many different parts of the world (although she does not have as much time for private travel as she once did).

Although some may think that Matsumoto has become a Tokyo artist, her values and thoughts, which she often shares via her blog, unmistakably show her Osaka roots. Once every two years, she returns to Osaka to hold an exhibition at the Hankyu Department Store in Umeda. This coming fall, she also plans to hold a personal exhibition at the Daimaru Department Store in Kobe. For people who have encountered her illustrations in print, this author strongly recommends they visit one of her exhibitions in order to fully enjoy and appreciate Matsumoto’s colorful world of art.

"History" 1999

"Cool summer day" 1990

"3 o'clock in the afternoon" 1998

"Urban manners" 2007

"A window in summer" 2000

April 28、2008
Text by Takafumi Kobuki, a freelance art writer

Yoko Matsumoto Profile
Born in Osaka, Yoko Matsumoto held her first private exhibition at R Gallery (Kyoto) in 1983. She has since shown her work at numerous individual and group exhibitions in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo. Since moving to Tokyo in 1994, her illustrations have appeared in numerous publications, including books, magazines and calendars. Her best-known book illustrations include "2/2" (by Miyuki Nakajima, published by Gentosha Inc.), "Kyosen" (by Kyosen Ohashi, published by Kodansha Ltd.) and "First Marriage" (by Yasushi Akimoto & Fumi Saimon, published by Kadokawa Bunko). She has also written her own books. These include "Yoko Matsumoto's Traveling for Extraordinary Experiences" (published by Asukashinsha Publishing) and "Days in Bali" (published by Korinsha).

Yoko Matsumoto's Blog "Irukatei Tsushin"
Yoko Matsumoto Official Website

Exhibition Information
Her ongoing projects include "Yoko Matsumoto's My Blind Love for Kyoto," a series of essays and illustrations for the Japanese-language Asahi Newspaper. This series runs in the western Japan evening edition of this newspaper on the 4th Saturday of each month. Her next personal exhibition will be held at the Daimaru Department Store Art Gallery in Kobe (November 19 - 25, 2008). Her illustrations also appear regularly in magazines including "Fujin Koron" (published by Chuokoron-Shinsha), "Kirara" (published by Shogakukan Inc.), "Hon-no Jikan" (published by Mainichi Shimbun Publishing Division), "GOLD" (the JCB members' magazine), among others.
Author Profile
Takafumi Kobuki
Worked as an editor for an information magazine and became a freelancer in 2005. Writes art-related articles for Kyoto Shimbun, Bijutsu Techo, Pia Kansai, ELLE, artscape (online) and more.
Personal website: “Katte-ni RECOMMEND”
Personal blog: “Takafumi Kobuki: Art-no Kobujime”