Harumi Hironaka – Secrets

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Surreality, reality and something mystic – all in all – just some characteristics of the impressive illustrations or rather artworks by Harumi Hironaka who is a Japanese/Peruvian painter and illustrator, living in São Paulo, Brazil.

Here we don’t only have wonderful colours that are totally eye-catching and are still combined harmonically; but rather an impressive expression the illustrated characters convey. Their faces are dramatically beautiful and they transform you into another world. – A world of undiscovered possibilities.

This post contains a selection of Harumi’s illustrations as well as a little interview.


When did you realize that illustrating is something special for you and which feelings do you want to express through your artworks?

Drawing has always been special for me, ever since I was a little girl. I used to draw all the time, especially during boring lessons. It helped me concentrate on what the teacher was saying. I get distracted very easily; sometimes my thoughts get too loud and while I’m drawing, they fade out.

I guess I want to express myself. I could probably paint girls with vacant expressions, surrounded by flowers and butterflies. They probably would look nice on a family home wall; but that’s not me. I go with my gut and it tells me to be bold.

You mainly draw women/girls. Are there any persons (in real life) that inspire you or is it just an expression of your vision?

It’s good that you mentioned it. There’s this new feature on Instagram that shows you some statistics about your followers and it says that 73% of mine are women. So this means that most of the followers of a female illustrator who paints female characters are women… and I get all these nice messages from them saying how much they can relate to my work, that they feel represented. For me that is awesome.

There isn’t a particular person that inspires me but there are a lot of women who have inspired me throughout my life and continue to do so. This includes poets, writers, artists, songwriters, etc.



Which drawing-techniques do you prefer and what are your favourite colours to illustrate with?

I don’t know about drawing-techniques, I’ve never taken a lesson. Again I have to say that I go with my gut and that I don’t know what the heck I’m doing 90% of the time; so until things get shaped up everything is a mystery.

Lately, my favorite colors are those of the sky in its different shades and moods.

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You lived many years in Japan but you are currently living in São Paulo, Brazil. Do you feel more at home in Japan or in Brazil?

I’ve always felt out of place… like a tourist. I was born in Perú and I love my home country but I always felt I was treated differently because of the way I look. And the same back in Japan; their culture was so different I couldn’t relate. Eventually things changed though… but like I said I’m still an alien.

Do you want to return to your home-country one day or is Brazil your dream-home?

My dream-home… hmmm. I could live on a mountain as long as it had Internet access and a convenience store (joking). I live like a hermit anyway (not joking).


What other ’hobbies’ do you have except illustrating and how does a usual day of the week look for you?

If I wasn’t an illustrator I would probably be a writer of coming-of-age stories or erotica; either way I would have been awful. I like reading, watching movies and TV-series. Does drinking count as a hobby?

I never wake up before 11am. I like to paint at night and I usually stay up until very late. So the first thing I do is make myself some coffee and have a cigarette – that’s breakfast for me (very healthy). I do the chores and waste a lot of time online. I paint, feed my cats, paint some more, take a nap. At night is all about painting.


How long do you need to finish one illustration approximately?

It depends, sometimes a couple of days, sometimes weeks; and there are some that never get finished, either because I lose interest or because I get excited about something else, something that hits me like a lightning bolt. Those are the ones that I finish in no time.

According to your opinion, how does the art of the future look?

I have no idea, really. I can only wish that it gets less deceiving and phony. I think the world needs to see more craft-work, originality, skill, ideas… beauty.

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All illustrations by Harumi Hironaka ☆ IG: @harumi_hironaka


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