meet an artist mondayWith a bright and spirited approach to illustration and storytelling, Carolyn Suzuki uses the platform of her design business to celebrate and uplift her vision of a beautiful, diverse and joyful world. Her endless-summer palette and bubbly sense of character illuminates original and commissioned work across the physical, digital and mercantile echelons, but she’s particularly proud of her collaborations with non-profits and brands like When We All Vote, Times Square Arts, She Should Run, The National Resources Defense Council, Asian American Girls Club, and Planned Parenthood. Most recently she collaborated with woman-owned Kikori Whiskey’s campaign to celebrate and honor Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The brand is spotlighting three female Asian American creatives by telling their stories, commissioning new works, and donating $10,000 to the nonprofit organization Asian Mental Health Collective in each artist’s honor — a total donation of $30K. Suzuki is highlighted along with comedian Atsuko Okatsuka and singer/songwriter Sasami, where she created an original illustration for the campaign.

Carolyn Suzuki

L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?

CAROLYN SUZUKI: I don’t think the word “artist” entered my identity until many years into earning a living from my work (see: imposter syndrome), but I understood from preschool age that I loved color, I loved making things with both art supplies and found objects around the house, and that I sucked at math.


What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?

I’m a designer and I run a stationery company.


What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?

If I weren’t drawing for a living, I think I’d still have to do something creative like interior design.

Carolyn Suzuki for Kikori

Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?

I did not! My parents were immigrants and even though I spent my whole life here in L.A., they were unfamiliar with the art/creative industry, so we didn’t even know that art schools existed. There is definitely a privilege to having information! I went to a 4-year Cal State University.


Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?

I was born and raised here and although I had some wanderlust in my younger years I’ve grown to really appreciate all that L.A. has to offer, it’s my hometown and I can’t see myself living anywhere else.


When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?

Right now I’m focused on growing my company to the next level, our products are in over 500 locations over the US and growing as well as in Europe + Australia. I also wrote and illustrated a book called Boobs! An empowering book that invites everyone (especially those with boobs) to look at themselves through their own lens.

Carolyn Suzuki: Springtime in Ukraine

What artist living or dead would you most like to show or work with?

Yayoi Kusama. Mostly to just observe her process and be in the room while she works with her team and to see how she navigates her daily life in a mental health institution in Japan.


Website and social media handles, please!

IG: @carolynsuzuki

Carolyn Suzuki: Menagerie

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