We had the good fortune of connecting with Sasha Ishikawa and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sasha, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
This is coming mostly from my personal experience as an artist but you really can’t please everyone. Just like music, everyone has their own taste in art. Some people prefer the kawaii Japanese manga art style, some prefer traditional renaissance paintings – each style will have its own audiences. I think the two most important things I’ve learned as an artist are: 1) find the style(s) of art that you personally enjoy, there will always be an audience, and 2) constantly practice to refine and improve your style – most artists aren’t simply born with innate talent, they need to work hard to get to where they are.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Growing up with English as a second language, as a child I found it challenging to communicate my thoughts and to make friends. I started to draw at a young age and realized art allowed me to express ideas and connect with others despite any language barriers. I drew many cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse and Totoro; people instantly knew who and what they were. Many of my friendships started simply by relating over these characters regardless of our language barrier. As I got older, I started to realize how art is a universal language that can bring people together.
During my college years in Hawaii, I always pictured myself as an art teacher. As my life in Hawaii went on, I realized I wanted to do more than just teach. Cartoons and anime were some of my favorite things since I was a child, and I realized it would be a dream come true to have a career in that field. Realizing that this is the career path I wanted to take, there was one thing stopping me from pursuing that dream; failure. Knowing that it would be a competitive field, I was scared that my artistic skill was not enough for me to go after my dream job. Especially when there are people constantly telling you that “you can’t make money with art”. After giving it a good thought, I realized that I should go for it. It is scary to do something new without knowing the result, but it’s better to fail knowing that I tried then doing nothing about it and regretting it later in life.
After I graduated in 2020 from California State University Fullerton, I hit rock bottom. My job applications were declined, my internships were canceled, and I was laid off due to the pandemic. Not knowing what to do next, I decided to take this opportunity to improve on my artistic skills. I’ve been doing freelance since 2016 but decided to make this my main job to help me throughout the pandemic. Since then, my freelance commissions have included designing logos for small companies, animating a short film and a commercial for a novel, and illustrating caricatures for clients.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
First of all, my best friend would already have planned all the restaurants and places to hang so I would probably be the one driving her to those designated spots. But if I was to plan her California trip, this would be the plan I would make.
Day 1: Because she would be arriving at LAX, I would like to check out the Broad Museum or Lacma to see if there are any new art events happening. I want to also introduce her to Portos where they have delicious food and pastry in LA. On the way back from LA, we would go to our favorite Japanese Pasta restaurant in Torrence.
Day 2-3: Since we both love the beach, we would drive down to San Diego. We would also go and enjoy Old Town San Diego for some Mexican food and drinks. On the next day, I really want to take my best friend to the San Diego Zoo since I had a lot of fun the last time I went.
Day 4: This day would be an easy day around the Orange County area. I would take her to Cream Pan in Tustin for some breakfast since they have the best Japanese pastry. Then we would stop by a local coffee shop nearby since I’m all about trying new places. We would probably go shopping at Irvine Spectrum and end the day with Vox Kitchen in Fountain Valley since they have the best comfort food.
Day 5-6: These two days will be saved for Disneyland and California Adventures because we both love Disney. We both love the rides, food, character meet and greets, and shopping.
Day 7: On the last day, I would love to drive by the beach in Long Beach and have brunch together. We would then go back to our favorite restaurant in Torrence, get some last-minute goodies at Trader Joe’s, and drop her off at the airport. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I wouldn’t be where I am now without the people who helped and supported me throughout this journey. The Disney artists and cast members at “Off the Page” helped to build my confidence and gave me great advice. My CSUF art advisers and classmates were always there to assist me with my doubts and troubles. My family and friends stuck with me and believed in my passion.