Since Ai Suzuki was young, she loved to daydream. Whenever she saw a beautiful sky or flower or bird or even a little bug, she made space for it in her imagination and made up a simple story about it to amuse herself. She also enjoyed recalling the strange landscapes she encountered in her dreams while sleeping. Things are no different for her today.
Her creative work, which mainly involves stylized use of the calligraphy brush, is her way of expressing the shapeless images of her imagination and the thoughts and feelings we can’t see.
The Kanji-Character was born 3,300 years ago and was made by combining lines and shapes from various pictures together which represented that words meaning. Over the years the kanji characters evolved from complex pictures into easier designs more conducive to writing on a daily basis. The ‘Modern day’ kanji character used now holds little similarity to the picture it once used to represent, and we are unable to feel which picture combination it originated from.
In today’s fast-paced, technological centric world, personalized handwriting is becoming ever more obsolete as computers take over our writing needs with email’s, texts and social media platforms. As such the personal touch and emotive characteristics of a hand written note have increasingly fallen by the wayside of each generation.
Therefore, Ai is set on a mission to provide life, feeling and purpose back to writing and wants each Kanji character to again have the pictured meaning, or connotation it used to represent once upon a time. In a sense she wants the character to be ‘born again’. It is her wish that not only Japanese people, but people from all over the world can feel something from looking at her artistic Kanji representations.
In 2003 she began her career as a freelance calligrapher, and her first gig was designing a logo for the retail outlet of a sake manufacturer. She wound up securing a private show in a gallery connected with the store, and in 2004 began to produce more artistic creations, which she continues to produce with a strong momentum.
Design calligraphy is a new trend in Japanese artistic culture.
Most of the tools are the same as traditional Japanese calligraphy or ‘Shodou’, but importantly it differs in that there are no writing rules and one can freely write how they please to express their feeling.
Ai draws influence from things like the beauty of nature, the way a song echoes in our hearts, and the grace of an athlete striding across the field. Excluding commissioned pieces, all of her work is created for purely personal reasons, but in her mind there’s nothing better than if a person sees one of her pieces at a show and can’t help but feel healed, or humored, or energized.
Her main tools are a brush (made from animal hair including horses, goats, raccoons and cats), ink (an ash composite made from burning oil and pine together with animal bones and skin), an inkstone (made of rock), and paper (made from mulberry and other plants). All these materials are natural, meaning their production can’t and isn’t totally influenced by humans. Ai values this aspect of her materials and tries to follow their natural rhythms.
She follows other natural rhythms in her schedule, working only during the two weeks between the new moon and the full moon.
She earnestly believes that creative expressionism is a vehicle for our thoughts, and so she only completes projects on days when she feels a perfect balance between body and soul.