[ICE TIME] Illustrator Mika Matsuda brings skaters’ personalities to life with her work

The best of ice time

Second in a special series of 3

This exclusive column delves into the work of gifted illustrator Mika Matsuda, whose colorful and vivid digital art of Japanese and overseas skaters has garnered widespread acclaim online over the years.

Posted on jackfigure.com in May 2020, Matsuda talks about her lifelong love of drawing and how seeing Mao Asada skating at the 2014 Sochi Olympics first inspired her to create images of skaters.

Matsuda, who has a full-time office job, talked about working on her passion in her spare time and how two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu is her favorite skater to represent. She uses special care when creating images of Hanyu, she explains in the interview.

A love of illustrating

Passion is everything in life.

Whether it’s for work or a hobby, people need something to motivate or motivate them.

Without passion, life can become mundane and monotonous.

Illustrator Mika Matsuda discovered her joy at an early age and is gaining attention from the global skating community for her excellent digital depictions of Japanese and foreign skaters which are regularly seen on Twitter and Instagram.

In an exclusive interview with jackfigure.com, Matsuda talked about his background, his designs and what draws him to skating.

Matsuda, 47, is from Tokyo and has lived in Fukuoka since he was 3 years old. With a full-time day job as an office worker, she uses her time after work and weekends to create her eye-catching artwork.

“I’ve loved drawing since I was very young,” said Matsuda, who revealed she had no formal training in art. She adds: “I attended a vocational school for fashion design (sewing), although I never learned to paint professionally.

I asked Matsuda how she came to create skater art.

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His answer was simple. “I first drew pictures of Mao Asada during the Sochi Olympics,” Matsuda recalls. Then she confessed, “I’ve also drawn comedians and other famous people.”

Hanyu’s success has increased his interest in the sport

Matsuda noted that his interest in skating became more intense watching Yuzuru Hanyu win his second consecutive Olympic gold medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

A mother of two (a 22-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter), Matsuda admitted that she and her children had never skated.

I was wondering how long it takes to create one of his designs.

“A quick draw takes 20-30 minutes, but some skaters take longer, up to a full day,” Matsuda said. “I draw all the photos digitally from the start, and I rarely do it by hand.”

Delighted by the growing interest in his work

The illustrator, who also makes designs for weddings and birthdays via her website, is delighted that her work as a skater is gaining more and more attention.

“I’m very happy about that,” Matsuda commented. “My goal is to have my illustrations featured on official merchandise. For example, on key rings and small goods. It would be nice if I could do something like that.

Surprisingly, Matsuda said she has yet to ask a skater to draw her a picture. With its growing popularity, that seems sure to change in the near future.

With her work seeming to be very marketable, perhaps on shirts and hats for example, I wanted to know if she had bigger aspirations moving forward.

“I don’t intend to develop my illustrations into a book or an exhibition,” she said, before adding, “I don’t want to publish for money unless the skaters give me their approval.”

favorite skaters to draw

Having drawn so many skaters over the past two years, I wanted to know which one Matsuda likes the most.

“Yuzuru Hanyu is my favorite skater. He was a big practice point for me because his face can be the hardest to draw,” Matsuda commented. “I look very carefully at his photos. His expressions during his programs really differ. He has a wide range of facial expressions. He doesn’t have a set facial expression he’s known for.

Matsuda pointed out that she was very careful while drawing the living legend.

“His fans watch my Twitter feed carefully, so I have to be careful with his artwork,” Matsuda remarked.

Draw French and Russian stars

While drawing foreign skaters, Matsuda identified two that she particularly likes to represent.

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“Gabriella Papadakis (French ice dancer) and (former Russian world champion) Elizaveta Tuktamysheva are two of my favorites,” Matsuda said. “I also drew coaches like Eteri [Tutberidze] and choreographers like Benoit Richaud.

Then she added, “I also like drawing retired skaters like Evgeni Plushenko and Johnny Weir.”

Matsuda likes to watch skating in person when she gets the chance.

“I go to skating events when I can,” Matsuda said. “But it’s hard to get tickets.”

My last question for Matsuda centered on what is skating that makes it more appealing to her than other sports.

“The charm of figure skating is that it is a sport and an art,” Matsuda noted. “All skaters are athletes and artists. I think it’s a great competition.

Coming soon: a look at designer Satomi Ito’s passion for creating innovative costumes for top skaters.

Author: Jack Gallagher

The author is a seasoned sports journalist and one of the world’s leading figure skating experts. Find Jack’s articles and podcasts on his author page, here on SportsLook, and find him on Twitter @sportsjapan.

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