To publish our book according to our ideal, I established an independent publishing house with the illustrator Furze Chan.
How should I describe Furze’s drawings? I think “clumsy” is the word. Crude and penetratingly awkward, they are the work of someone with no artistic training.
There is an inexplicable elegance to the way children draw. It puts a smile on your face as you wonder, “I never knew this was possible.” I always giggle at children’s drawings, but at the same time, I admire the way they see – and represent – the world. Just as our handwriting is irreversible, grown-up’s drawings can never retrieve the innocence lost. Style follows the mastery of the basics: perspective, proportion and composition – often at the expense of wonderful improvisation.
But mastery is boring. Rather than pursuing skill par excellence, why not focus on the act of drawing itself? Drawing is fun. As the pen whisks the surface, one’s stroke reveals an undertone – which then transposes to an object, a landscape, a feeling, or a trace of memory. As such, each stroke reveals, too, a miracle.
The drawing hand can never quite catch up with the artist’s heart. Days would elapse before she finds a fault in her drawing – and starts again. No one wants to go through such painstaking process, but she would not have it any other way; she would own her responsibility for the drawing, even if it’s a custom design. So, where is the fault? Often it eludes the unsuspecting eye. To the artist, the fault means something greater than itself; it is space for improvement, for a feeling that hasn’t been felt and a representation that hasn’t been explored. To draw is to be free.
And yet, one can still expect clumsiness from this perfectionist. I once asked her, half-jokingly, “Why don’t you just whisk a few strokes and call it a day, like Mizumaru Anzai?” But then every time I see a new drawing she has just finished, it spurs something in me: the knowledge that this particular drawing is being presented to me for it was done to her heart’s content. It’s not about how one draws, but rather, how one sees the world and, in response, weaves an honest introspection.
I don’t seem to have ever truly owned a drawing by Furze, except a sketch she once made in my notebook when we were sat in a café. Selfishly, I kept it with me.