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Design Festa Gallery: Mermaids and Prayers on a Star

posted on by Kim Morrissy

The Design Festa gallery is a permanent exhibition space in Harajuku that is dedicated to showing off the talents of young and upcoming artists in Japan. Although a wide variety of art is showcased at the Design Festa gallery, some artists work in the anime and manga industries or are strongly influenced by anime-style art.

In today's article, we'll cover two eye-catching artists whose exhibits ran simultaneously: imoko, who draws lovely illustrations and animations of young women, and cousato, who draws dreamlike images with “sky”, “space” and “sea” motifs.


imoko is a self-taught artist based in Osaka. She's fond of using watercolours and acrylics. Her exhibit, called “The Flower in the Sea”, focuses on aquatic animals and mermaids in traditional Japanese clothing. The exhibit ran between the 3rd and 5th of November.

As soon as you walk into the exhibit, you'll see images on the right wall that revolve around the theme of “the flowers of twelve months”. Daffodils for January, cherry blossoms for April, lilies for July… Each illustration also has a girl dressed in clothes made of petals to match the theme.

The theme of this illustration, for instance, is the flowers that bloom in early spring, pheasant's eye, and plum.

imoko has also produced T-shirts with hand-drawn illustrations on them. There were also cute framed images and postcards at the exhibit.


On her profile, cousato describes her artwork as follows:

“People who pray for others are as beautiful as a shining star. In an attempt to capture the beauty in prayers, I've drawn a sea of twinkling stars.”

cousato's exhibit, called “Sea of Praying Stars”, also ran between the 3rd and 5th of November. The paintings are drawn with acrylics on plywood.

The above painting is called “To The New World” and has a whale motif. The bones of the whale are wrapped in a light that conveys warmth and gentleness. The message is: “No matter how much things hurt, the world you guided me to is full of light.”

cousato is shown here smiling. Thanks for all the hard work!

For more information about the exhibits, check out imoko and cousato's pages the Design Festa Gallery blog (Japanese). You can also find out more about the Design Festa Gallery by checking out their official website (English).

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