It takes quite a leap of faith to completely change course and do something different for a living. For Yo Hosoyamada, the decision to leave architecture behind to become an illustrator came easy, as it was something she fell madly in love with. Now a new personal project combines the two passions: 100 Days of Buildings.
The London-based illustrator, originally from Tokyo, was studying at the prestigious Bartlett School of Architecture following the traditional path to becoming an architect. Following graduation, she got a job as an architectural assistant at a design firm but it wasn't quite as expected: "During my studies, I was constantly challenged, pushing my creative skills forward," she tells Creative Boom. "But the job didn't feel like I was fully utilising what I'd learnt. That's when I discovered illustration and began dedicating all my free time to it. I completely fell in love with the art of image-making."
Up until that point, Yo hadn't grasped that illustration was an option, work-wise. And so, she studied a postgraduate course at Camberwell College of Art, later becoming a freelance illustrator for brands such as ELLE magazine, Tokyo University and NHK, working across editorial, book design, branding, and animation.
The aforementioned personal project, 100 Days of Building was a challenge Yo set herself to re-interpret the architecture of 100 buildings through illustration – many of which she's shared on her Instagram feed. "Because I studied both creative disciplines, my work often lies at an intersection, exploring themes around spatiality and urban spaces," she explains. "I love that Illustrations allows me to depict the emotions that you might feel in a particular space through the use of colour and composition."
"I love that buildings can have such diﬀerent atmospheres," Yo continues. "While growing up, I was lucky to travel to many places and was able to see many diﬀerent kinds of architecture all around the world. It's so interesting how architecture can look so diﬀerent. It can be as small as a wooden shed, or as big as a historical palace. It can be as open as a courtyard house, and as closed oﬀ as a fortress.
"The most memorable experience was when I visited St Mary's Cathedral in Tokyo for the first time. It completely took my breath away. The way the light came into the space, the textures all around you, and the dynamic curved walls were so impactful that I had to sit and absorb it all! Photography in the cathedral isn't allowed, so I took out my small sketchbook and just started to scribble. I really felt the need to capture it all through drawing."
As part of the project's theme, Yo wanted to celebrate architecture by female designers: "I love that buildings can look so different around the world, depending on the designer, the culture, climate, and materials that they use. I wanted the project to reflect that diversity and showcase buildings that might not be as well known around the world," she says.
Does she have a favourite piece? "The Glass House by Lina Bo Bardi. Not only was she a female architect during a time when it was very diﬃcult, but I also learned a lot from doing this piece. Each artwork is a step forward, and I try to challenge myself to something new with each one. I took a lot of creative freedom in re-interpreting her architecture, with the use of colour and composition. It definitely marks a turning point in my work."
Elsewhere in her practice, Yo says she's inspired by new places, architecture and spaces. "Whenever I travel, I always seek out interesting and unique pieces of architecture that I can visit. I love learning about the backstories and histories that lie behind the walls of a particular place. With the pandemic, of course, I haven't been able to do that, so this project has been a way to discover new architecture remotely. The pandemic has been stressful and overwhelming for many of us, but this series has been somewhat of an escape, something I can lose myself into a few times a week."
Not being able to see these stunning buildings in real life doesn't really phase Yo: "Whenever I begin a new illustration, I try to imagine myself in that space and imagine how the air would feel, how it might smell like, or how the light would shine. I then try to convey that through the colour, textures and composition of the drawing. I hope I can share my love for buildings and beautiful interiors through my work."