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Ayomi Yoshida

A fourth-generation printmaker, Ayomi Yoshida marries classic techniques with organic forms to create inventive works of art.

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Ayomi comes from a Japanese artistic dynasty that began with her great-great grandfather in the late 19th century. Yet she never envisioned herself becoming an artist. Although she was exposed to a lot of art growing up—going to museums and exhibits was just part of the fabric of family life—there wasn't an expectation that she should become an artist. Her parents, both artists themselves, encouraged Ayomi to find her own path.

Her connection to the U.S. began with a Minnesotan who was an avid collector of her grandfather's work. The collector visited Japan every year to interview Ayomi's grandfather and to collect more pieces. After five years, while Ayomi was studying architecture at university in Japan, he suggested that Ayomi come to Minneapolis to study. She took him up on the offer and studied at Augsburg College in Minnesota. While there, Ayomi saw a silk-screening class and fell in love with the process.

(left) Renowned artist Ayomi Yoshida.
(right) Carving the block to be printed.

When she returned to Japan, Ayomi couldn't find the same silk screening materials there. So she looked around her home and her father's studio and used her father's block printing supplies. Ayomi translated silk-screening techniques into woodblock prints. She hadn't studied woodblock techniques from her father, so Ayomi went through a lot of trial and error while creating her first pieces. She carved the wood to create the blocks then devised a way to incorporate the chips created by the carving process into her art.

Detail of hand block-printed artwork.

Jenon Bailie, merchandise manager at Room & Board, worked closely with Ayomi to curate the types of images and scale of artwork that would fit a customer's home while reflecting Ayomi's singular style. "When we work with an artist we're often asking them to create something that's not within their usual medium, so we supply guidance and feedback without infringing on the artist's creative process," said Jenon.

While putting together her collections of limited-edition block prints for Room & Board, Ayomi works long hours, carving the woodblocks and printing the artwork. Her husband Bidou Yamaguchi joked, "No vacation!" Each woodblock takes about a week to 10 days to carve, depending on the size and complexity of the design. Next up is the most crucial step: getting the colors just right. Ayomi uses water-based inks which cannot be layered like oil-based inks; the color soaks right into the paper. She does more than two dozen test prints for each piece, working to create just the right colors. Her methodical approach brings forth limited-edition pieces that showcase her special woodblock techniques and eye for color and texture.