Sunday, September 6, 2015


My little self attending Japanese kindergarten in Kobe, Japan.

 I see that now the hashtag #MyAsianAmericanStory has joined the fray, and a lot of people are using it to whine about how they are mistreated. So let me tell you my #MyAsianAmericanStory.

I immigrated from Japan to the US when I was six. I got made fun of occasionally in school, yelled at by neighbor kids, and in 7th grade, our class was made to listen to a comedic routine (on cassette tape) that had some jabs at Japanese culture. The rude jokes hurt my feelings so much that I burst into tears in front of the whole class. Major embarrass. And of course when I got older, there were the guys who only liked me because I was another Asian-esque who fit into their Asian fetish. Gross.

If I search history, I can find that thousands of Japanese-Americans were put into internment camps during WWII though they had committed no crime. I can remember the story told by my grandmother in Japan, of how she was forced to move from her home because the city had been firebombed by the Americans. (Something you don't learn in American history books.)

But but but, does any race have a monopoly on suffering? Uh, no. Every person on earth has been mistreated by some other person on earth, simply because humans are cruel creatures who tend to dislike people different from themselves. If you search for sad stories involving your race, you’ll find them all day long. If you live life expecting people to harass you because of your race, it’ll happen constantly.

Knowing history is important. But using history to make excuses, create fake enemies, and find a personal ticket aboard the complain train is an insult to your ancestors and those who suffered before you. We are a nation of immigrants in a world of different races. It's about time people stopped dwelling on every possible negative thing and see how many good people surround them daily.

Oh, and here’s the latter part of my #MyAsianAmericanStory that continues to this day. Any negative comments regarding my race seemed to fade away and be replaced by kindly genuine interest and fascination. I'm not sure if everyone around me grew up, or I did. I've also learned to take a joke and will be the first to laugh about my rice addiction and actual need to create my eyelids in the morning with tape (#asiangirlproblems). Sure, I get an uneducated comment every now and again, but I don't let them bother me, because: seriously, does it matter? I live each day as an artist, my dream job. I have a lovely husband, fantastic family, and probably the cutest dog on earth. I have the greatest friends, and live in a wonderful community in a house which is safe and clean. I get to travel often, including visits back to Japan to see my sweet relatives and hilarious friends. I am very fortunate to belong to two countries which have so many positive things about them. My life is pretty great.

If you look around you, you will also probably see that that your life is great too. If it’s not… nothing in the whole world is holding you back from making it great. Fun quote from a TV show I’ve never watched: “When I feel sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead. True story.”

#MyAsianAmericanStory, #asianproblems, #asiangirlproblems, #asiangirls, #immigration, #raceissues, #japaneseamerican, #japanese

Monday, July 27, 2015

New piece: "16 - 鎌倉権五郎景政 -" (Kamakura Gongoro Kagemasa)

"16 - 鎌倉権五郎景政 -"
Watercolor, colored pencil, Japanese paper, and gold leaf on wood
24 x 24"
Close-up of the face and Japanese paper collage on the helmet
Close-up of the figure... strangely I like this crop
My stamp, after a long process. DONE!
 Wow, it's been a long few months to complete this piece, but I'm pretty thrilled at the finished piece and the curiously muted (for me) color scheme. Read the story of this mysterious warrior boy below.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Are you sick?

There is nothing I love so much as the big bold blue sky above the start of a new adventure.

 Recently I finally invented a word for a nagging feeling I've had my whole life. The word is "place-sickness." I'd describe it as the opposite of homesickness. When you are homesick, you miss home so much that it makes you physically ill. When you are place-sick, you want to leave so much that it makes you physically ill.

I've been place-sick for longer than I can remember, because I have the most incurable case of wanderlust. I should have been born as a wandering desert nomad!

I've lived in a few varied places in my life (Tokyo, Japan; Kobe, Japan; Kansas, Indiana, Oklahoma, and for a short spell in the UK) and I go out-of-state and out-of-country several times a year. But, it's not enough. I want to live somewhere totally new every few years, not just visit and return to the same home airport. I want totally new experiences, new friends, new scenery, new ways of life, new languages, new interests and new fears, new adventures. But, currently... it's not meant to be. I am being taught patience and the ability to be content in any circumstance. Perhaps I'm in a training period or something for when I really do wander the earth...

Always the right answer: the sea.

I've realized more and more that this is why I need to create art. Getting lost in the sketching of serene faces, scribbling wildly with oil pastel as the paint drips, letting watercolor flow its own way as music from other lands fills the room... for now, that is my escape. During the times I paint, I don't feel place-sick because I feel that I'm someplace new every time. Even after I finish the pieces, I can look at them and suddenly be transported to another place... someplace uncommon and exotic.

When I start working on the floor, you know things are really serious

Maybe you need a break from negativity or the constant grim reports that fill the news. Or maybe respite from a job which exhausts you. Or time off from a not-quite-right group of friends who make you feel slightly worse each time you hang out with them. I hope that my works might be a remedy for for that type of place-sickness. I hope that you can look deeply at the colors, the faces, and quiet patterns and gold, and feel that you have been transported elsewhere. Someplace peaceful, someplace magical.

Photo by Quit Nguyen

Much more art to come. Enjoy!


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Inspirations from Vienna

We went on a work/holiday trip to Vienna, Austria! Travel gives me such intense inspirations like nothing else can. I'm dreaming of the paintings I can make on this new power... hope the ideas don't melt away under the blanket of home-monotony before I can create them.

We also had short stops in London and Paris, which I'll blog about later!


- I loved the winding stairs leading up to our borrowed apartment. The building was probably almost as old (if not older) than my country. So many stories must be contained within those sunlit hallways, filled with assorted potted plants from neighbors, ornate wall carvings (in need of a good cleaning), the smell of cold stone and old tobacco... and the occasional echo-y cough emanating from a missing window pane of one of the apartments.

- I loved the fresh, spring air of the city as we explored it by bicycle. The bike lanes in Vienna are constant and wide, so you can get anywhere you please with the utmost speed and convenience. There was lots of golden pollen drifting about and people coughed and sneezed with their allergies. But there's nothing like that brilliant yellow golden shine from statues and memorials in the middle of the city.

- I loved the bakeries on every corner, and the dizzying varieties of just-baked delicacies. They were all so cheap, though I would have paid anything to have them! The friendly "Grüss Gott!" of the store clerk girls, the bustle of daily patrons, and the tantalizing possibility of adding a fabulous cup of dark-roast coffee to the sugary treasures was also so such a comfort.

- Flea markets and recycle shop paradise! The antique shops in the US could never hold a candle to the treasures you can find in Europe! The older I get, the more I love to rummage through dusty old treasures in random shops much more than buying shiny outfits in modern malls. We bought an interesting black iron light fixture for €3, and struck a deal with a kindly old Vienese gentleman over some botanical pages from 19th century field guides.

All these lovely feelings and beauty lead me to effortlessly imagining some new artworks. I'm thinking of girls faces on wood, with wood as the skintone. I was to surround them and cover most of their faces with ornate golden swirls, horses, and boughs full of leaves and white berries. The backgrounds can be pure black. Very European, very chiaroscuro, I think.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Should Artists Go to University?

J graduating university, circa 2006.

I've been hearing this question a lot recently so I thought I should write a post.

My short answer is YES. Go. Finish it like a boss.

The Skillz.

Not only is college about the most fun you'll even have in your life (If I could, I would be a student forever....) But you will gain some very valuable instruction there. This is true whether you want to major in graphic design, studio art, or any other art form. I would never have the technical abilities I have today if it weren't for the excellent instruction I gained in college classes.

College is like Chicken Pox.

 College is like chicken pox! Do it early if you can! "Doing it later if I want to" gets exponentially harder after you have a life, spouse, and kids. Why wait? Having a bachelor's degree simply compounds the possibilities in your life. If you're like me and change "what you want to be when you grow up" every few years, you'll know that you can choose to be a studio artist, entrepreneur, or... you could even apply to a government graphic designer job. You should give yourself every tool other people have in their arsenal.

Balance the Benjamins

One thing I think an artist should avoid is to get into huge debt to go to college. College is advisable for artists, but not dead necessary like it is for a medical doctor. Don't rack up a $120,000 debt after school. Your artist career will most likely not support that! Look into inexpensive colleges. (I think my alma mater, Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK is the King of Inexpensive. I had zero college debt.) Apply for scholarships. Work student jobs that give you discounts on tuition. Be creative.

You can make it work if you really want to!

JUURI's Golden Advice Point (I wish I would have done this)

 Use your electives and take marketing classes. FOR REAL. I have no idea why it's not required for artists. That is a huge flaw. 50% or more of your time being an artist will involve marketing, whether it's for yourself or a client. Become a guru of it. As for clueless little me, I squandered my electives on stuff like Billiards class and I had to learn marketing on my own time once I desperately needed it.

Reasons Not to Go to College

- If you stumble upon some amazing career opportunity or mad entrepreneurship chance, and things are going so so swell that going to college at the moment would be impractical and in fact impossible.
- .........

That's the only one I can think of. Please feel free to let me know what you think!


Monday, February 9, 2015

Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come for You - Haters Gonna Hate Edition -

It seems to happen without fail: whenever you're doing something awesome, creative, incredible, out-of-the-box, or different... somebody somewhere will have an issue with it. Now, these moany groanies usually aren't brave enough to come talk to you face-to-face about a legitimate concern. Probably because there is no legitimate concern and all their animosity toward you stems from intense jealousy, insecurity, or plain wrong information (often found inside rumors.) Also: you can tell it's the handiwork of a jelly person when the accusations or complaints about you make no logical sense.)

I'm a naturally demure person and I dislike confrontation. I even have a hard time being firm with telemarketers because I feel so awful about being rude to anybody. So, you can imagine that if I hear that a group of people think badly of me or are actively hatin', it really hurts my feelings and messes up my day more than I'd like to admit. I often wonder what I can do or change to placate everyone so that people won't be mad at me. After thinking about it awhile, I came up with a little test to help myself. Maybe it will help you too when the whingers and moaners come for you.

- What is it that people dislike about me? Is it something bad? If so, fix it in spectacular fashion so they have nothing more to say. Is it something good? If so, do it 1000x better and torture them with pure excellence. 

And here's a little graphic that you can pin on your Pinterest to cheer yourself up on bad days. It cheered me up today.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Girls With Arrows Through Their Hearts

"Boldest of the Marred" by JUURI | 2015

I've been attracted to the arrow-in-the-heart theme since college. To me it represents

- Of unfulfilled dreams.
- Of my own limitations.
- Of human cruelty.
- Of unjust suffering.

"The Rapturous Agony" by JUURI | 2014
- Of beauty and calm amidst great hardship
- Of never giving up no matter what
- Of turning pain into victory instead of defeat
- Of a rejoicing in suffering, facing it courageously instead of running

"Duty" by JUURI | 2014
- Of doing what you must, even when it hurts
- Of Cupid's Arrow... both a blessing and curse
- Of the consequences of my own actions
- Of loneliness, and missing good friends or places

"Cupid's Curse III" by JUURI | 2014

A paradox:
- Am I a strong or weak person?
- Do I work hard to achieve my goals, or am I lazy?
- Do I try to protect myself, or do I sacrifice my own safety for other things?
- How is it that they are all true at the same time?

What does the arrow-girl (or boy) mean to you? Do you see anything in your psyche in the painting? I'd love to know!

<3 J

Saturday, January 17, 2015

I Didn't Mean To Delete Your Comments! APOLOGY.

Hey dear readers of this blog, I am SO SORRY that I've accidentally deleted all your precious comments on my entire blog. You see, I was being besieged by a far-reaching spam onslaught and wasn't quite sure how to cleanse it all... and this is what happened.

You can be assured that I adore real comments on my blog posts because I love to hear what you think!

So in future, please feel free to comment to the max.

Sorry and Love,

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wanna Be A Billionaire?

Glorious photo from

 These are the things I'd do if I were a billionaire!

- Sleep in as late as I want
- Do art projects that I like... only projects I choose, no boring stuff
- Travel
- Drink coffee at chic coffee shops and feel like my life is a tumblr
- Eat delicious foods
- Hang out at the pool / hot tub all day and soak up the sun
- Play with lots of cute animals
- Drive an awesome, head-turning vehicle (well, so long as I was staying in a city that necessitated having a car)

Being an artist isn't easy. You have to make your own projects, ideas, and income sources. There's no direct deposit. You often have to be a debt collector and struggle to get paid for things that you should automatically be paid for. You can be sure that the number on my bank account shocks me continually. I could earn more money working at McDonald's. That's not even an exaggeration.

But then, look at what I do every day in my poor artist's life:

- Sleep in till about 10:00 am daily... and work till about 1:30 am
- Do art projects that I like... beautiful Japanese girls and vibrant abstracts!
- Travel to new cities 2-3 times per year, usually including a yearly international trip
- Drink coffee and tea all day long
- Eat out several times a week and also cook delicious new dishes
- Use the Olympic-sized pool and hot tubs at my gym anytime
- Play with my doggie, the cutest beast alive
- Drive a vintage Porsche 944

UH..... notice something?


There are a few other things I would do if I were rich; like live in another zip code, but as I love minimalism and simplicity with all my heart, there wouldn't be too much more. The biggest difference between Now-Me and Billionaire-Me is the number of digits on my banking app.

I wouldn't trade my amazing life for the highest-paying soul-sucking job there is. You know, the type of job that people utterly hate, but they go back to every single hour of every single week of every single year for 40+ years so that someday they could possibly start to do what they like every day?

Dear artists and entrepreneurs, when you start to despair for lack of direct deposit every week, make your two lists. Listen to the stories around you about horrible jobs, horrible bosses, insufferable colleagues, and exhausting office politics.

I can guarantee that you too will see how incredibly close you are already to being the richest person on earth. Count your blessings, and don't ever forget them!

PS. If you're stuck in one of those soul-sucking jobs... realize that you CAN change your fate. If I did it, anyone can!


Monday, October 27, 2014

5 Scariest JUURI Pieces

My paintings are usually full of serene flower-wearing girls; but occasionally out of nowhere, a creepy piece will appear. Check out these top 5 scariest pieces. (Links included for pieces which are available.) Happy Halloween!

1. "Red Tongue - Aka Shita -"

This bizarre lady is based off the yokai of the same name. Read about her crazy tongue and talons here! Original and prints available, from $48.99

2. "Relentless - Yousha Nashi -"

Perhaps the only weapon-wielding JUURI lady ever. Read what she represents here.
Original and prints available, from $58.99

3. "Torn Tail - Osaki -"

This ever-popular piece was a private commission! Can you guess what yokai she is?

4. "Broken or Whole?"

This creepy-looking piece is inspired by a real Japanese festival called THE NAKED FESTIVAL. Strange, huh? Read about what goes on there here.
Original and prints available, from $48.99

5. "The Standing Death of Ben-Kei St. Sebastian"

Just a guy calmly standing with arrows in his neck and blood gushing out. This is actually a real Japanese legend. I didn't make it up. Read about the piece here!
Prints available, $50

Tell me if there are any others you missed. These are fun; I'll have to make more!