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Digital Illustration by Local Artist Nikki Aguirre

Wayward Ashes

NAKANO

With as much as I love animation, I thought it appropriate to focus on my favorite aspect of bringing animated features to life, character design. Through the meaning of a name, eye color, or even the smallest detail on their wardrobe the audience can gain insight into any character’s life. Oddly enough, I sometimes find it easier to identify and relate to fictional characters in contrast to the people in my life, so I can recognize a well-crafted character.

Growing up as a Filipino-American in Japan, I’ve always felt closer to Japanese culture and its teachings  more so than my own. All three of these cultures have played an integral part in who I am and how I view the world. It’s also caused it’s fair share of internal confusion and strife with figuring out how to live my life for myself but also with regards to how it affects the people around me. Symbolism regarding my cultural upbringing often finds itself scattered in my work. I admire Japanese symbols in particular and how even the smallest things can hold the deepest of meanings.

Introducing Nakano, the personification of my zodiac sign, the fire Ox, found in Japanese culture. The Ox is stubborn which makes it an ideal symbol for someone like me who often adopts a one track mindset. The fire in this case is a little more subtle and can be found in the wispy traces of smoke and the crimson color of her eyes representing my passion and drive to pursue a career I feel strongly about. The text is meant to be read in the convention of Japanese literature, top to bottom and right to left. The gingko leaves prevalent across all three paintings embody strength and endurance. 

I need reminders like that more often than not to continuously push myself to improve every day in any aspect of my life. The red spheres that orbit around her head are an homage to the red sun on Japan’s flag with a touch of the sun rays that are notable on the Filipino flag. I never want to forget my roots and the teachings that continue to shape my young adulthood.

‘Nakano’, meaning warrior, is a play off of my last name ‘Aguirre’ which means war-like or accustomed to war. So in a way, it reminds me to be a fighter for the path that I want in life.

Nikkiaguirre.com

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