Miki Sato - While You Sleep

Crafting Stories: Miki Sato’s Unique Textile Illustrations

Miki Sato is an illustrator from Toronto, Canada, who uses textiles in her work with charm and style.

Miki Sato -  Natural Brew embroidered textile collage

I use a technique that involves the layering of different surfaces and textiles, creating three-dimensional and tactile pieces.”

Miki Sato - Understand embroidered textile collage

I really enjoy working with all types of surfaces including papers, fabrics and sometimes thread. I hope to create delicate and soft pieces, that hopefully brings a unique view to an otherwise mundane situation.”

Miki Sato - Snow Days embroidered textile collage
Miki Sato – Snow Days

I find Miki’s style to quite enchanting. There’s a simple elegance to her illustrative style that carries throughout her work and she translates between drawn work and stitched work with ease.

Similar to the stitched collage work of Raquel Alves, Miki’s delicate stitching brings these pieces together and, well, I could look at them all day. They are simple and lovely.

Miki Sato - Car Crash embroidered textile collage

Since this post was first written in 2013, it is wonderful to see how Miki has flourished as an illustrator, particularly for children’s books. I contacted Miki with some new questions to find how her work has evolved.

What messages are evolving through your work? I know that children’s book illustration has become an important part of your work – it’s an excellent fit for your style – and I would love to know how that came to be.

It’s been great to have the opportunity to work on picture books, and I feel very fortunate. I was contacted completely out of the blue to see if I was interested in illustrating one, and like you mention, I thought it was a nice fit for my art style too.

Recently, I looked back on the kinds of picture books I was drawn to as a child, and found that I enjoyed books that had a twist to the art. Seeing those as a child might have influenced me with my current choice of medium. It would be amazing if the readers of the books I’ve illustrated could also be inspired to think outside the box when it comes to art making!

Miki Sato - Jackalope embroidered textile collage

What are your influences?

When I was young, manga was the main influence that got me to start drawing seriously. It also helps me to this day when I’m thinking about things like composition and layout for picture books.

Barbara Reid is a picture book author and illustrator who uses plasticine for her art, and seeing her work as a child made me realize that art didn’t have to just be with pencils and paint.

And in the present time, I get a lot of inspiration from other fellow illustrators like Ashley Barron and Elly Mackay who also work in a layered style.

Miki Sato - Snow Days
Miki Sato – Snow Days

How has your technique evolved over time?

With more experience under my belt, I’ve definitely become more streamline in my illustration process. Every book I work on, I’m able to play around and experiment with new textures and materials and add them to my arsenal.

For example, I’ve started to use things like sand, wool felting, glass beads, and cotton balls in my work. I feel like I have a better grasp on what I can do in an illustration, and also some of the limitations that come with it.

Miki Sato - While You Sleep

Where do you see your work heading now?

I would love to keep working on picture books! I’ve found myself not using embroidery as often as I’d like, so hopefully in the future I can incorporate it more into illustrations again.

I also recently learnt how to knit, so I’m excited to try and add that to my illustrations as well!

Miki Sato - Galactic Thoughts

It’s wonderful to see an artist flourishing with her work. Miki’s involvement in children’s books is a perfect match; have a look through her Instagram and you’ll see more detail shots of her work that reinforce her skillset. Visit Miki’s website to see more of her portfolio and if you want to get her books, click here.

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