School navigation

Illustrating With Feminine Flair

Strolling through the streets and gardens of Tokyo, Chico Hayasaki stops to notice the silhouettes of flowering trees and a pink-orange cloud floating above the setting sun.

“Those colors and shapes will find their way into my artwork,” she says. 

Hayasaki often draws on imagery from nature in her work. A few years ago, she landed a job illustrating an aromatherapy story for the Four Seasons Magazine, an in-house publication for the upscale Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

“They sent me images of herbs and flowers and asked me to use them in my illustrations of a woman—one image for each season,” she says. “They liked my work and put the spring illustration on the cover.”

Since her involvement in that project, Hayasaki frequently weaves flowers and leaves into images of the women she illustrates in fashion and beauty campaigns. Her work has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and Cosmo Girl. She has illustrated major ad campaigns for Bare Essentials, Le Sportsac, Nordstrom, and the LaPerla showroom in Milan.  

Hayasaki was one of 10 top illustrators chosen by artist Jeffrey Fulvimari in 1999 during the Tokyo competition This Is Your Chance—Jeffrey Will Find You, hosted by CWC. She is represented by Koko Nakano and Erika Panasci at the creative agency CWC International.

“Most of our clients love her soft, feminine sensitivities—her fine lines and gentle, organic colors,” says Panasci.

Hayasaki shies away from computers, preferring to draw freehand with pen and to paint with watercolors. She’s branching out into jewelry, designing pieces and partnering with Art Heaven Works to produce them. And her first textile collection is now available through Kei Fabric.

Hayasaki says the person who has most strongly influenced her style was her grandmother Ene Homma, a creative, stylish woman. When Homma was young, she made dainty paper flowers from the pretty candy wrappers her father brought home from his trips abroad and studied foreign fashion magazines. 

“I love the way she recreated things,” says Hayasaki. 

Homma became a great cook who carefully selected just the right tableware for each dish she made. The flowers she chose for the table were hydrangeas and Sandersonia, with delicate lantern-like blossoms—not the more popular lilies or roses.

“She was quiet and simple but strong, beautiful but not pretentious,” says Hayasaki. “Those are the qualities that guide me.”

—by Pattie Pace

Share this story on

The Chronicle Magazine

Contact Us