Hello, everyone! How are you?
Today we are so happy to introduce you a new series for the blog titled "T.S.L fans around the world"!!!💕
"T.S.L fans around the world" will allow us to meet lots of TSL friends and get to know them better by asking some questions like what are their TSL favorite items and how they incorporate TSL in their lives. Be sure that many fun experiences will be explained here too!
We inaugurate the series by interviewing "ame", an illustratror based in the USA, who draw the lovely masking tape "TSL Workshop" for Baum-Kuchen Studio. So, if you want to know more about her and the story behind that lovely tape, keep reading!
W- Hello, ame! We are so happy to have you here and inaugurate this new series interviewing you! Thank you so much!!! To start, please, tell us a bit about yourself.
a- Hello Wanderlust!! Thank you so much for having me on a blogpost!! I go by "ame", it's a username I chose at the dawn of the internet, and it just stuck. Everyone ended up calling me by that name. I'm a Taiwanese born Canadian, and I moved to Los Angeles, California about 4 years ago! I live with my small family consisting of my wife Karen and dogther LiLi. Over the years I've worn many hats but currently I am a freelance, self-employed illustrator.
W- We love your illustrations work, so please, tell us a bit more about it. What kind of media do you use for your illustrations? Why did you choose that media?
a- Watercolour and ink are my main media of choice! It's funny because when I was younger I drew a lot with digital media. I'm not sure when I made the switch to be honest, but I started to try out watercolour (I was very poor at it in the beginning of course). I enjoyed that I could draw anywhere as long as I had a sketchbook and pen, so traditional media became more and more familiar to me, and now has become my main media of choice. I really enjoy the feel of putting something on paper. That initial touch of pen/brush/pencil onto paper is the most exhilarating. It's the starting point of where a story will begin.
W- We love watercolour too!!! And what kind of subject do you love to illustrate the most and why?
a- I enjoy many things but my favourite is drawing Nature. It's very peaceful to look at but also it is a forgiving subject to draw. You don't have to draw straight haha. I love using watercolour because it is an easy medium. To be honest I didn't choose watercolour very purposefully. I just happen to have some watercolours at home that my mom had, and that was the main reason. I don't recall exactly why I started to watercolor! I think that drawing the world around me helps me to understand it more, and that's why I like it. Observing the world around me is a reminder that there's so much to learn still. It makes me feel happy to be alive :)
W- How did you discover TSL?
a- I'm a HUGE fountain pen nerd, and in the fountain pen world, TSL leather pen roll is very popular. I have seen it here and there. After I was hired by Baum-kuchen Studio, I was surrounded by many TSL products and became more familiar with the brand! Not long after, I met Kawai-san (owner and designer of TSL) and Yanai-san (TSL craftsman) when they came for a workshop at Baum-Kuchen Studio! Out of the blue Kawai-san invited me to go to NAP Village and of course I accepted!
W- How was the experience visiting Nap Village in Okayama, Japan?
a- I went to NAP at Kawai-san's invitation and learned the basics of leathercraft. I grew up doing factory work, so the setting was familiar because I get to work with my hands and be close to materials. However, it's not to be confused with standard factory work, because at TSL they are at a craftsman level that is focused on quality and not quantity like the common industrial factories today. It was so refreshing to see people passionate about delivering quality in their products. This experience really touched me so deeply. Saying that I had the time of my life is a little bit of an understatement. It might sound a little cheesy, but it sparked something in my soul.
There were specific moments when I was at Nap Village that were recorded in my heart forever. I remember seeing and feeling specific moments that really impressed me when I was learning from TSL. They were small instances like a hand gesture or just the touch of their hands where I understood deeply how much care was put behind the production of their artefacts.
W - Can you explain to us how the masking tape "TSL Workshop" was born?
a - When BK started their tape projects, I expressed that I would love to make a TSL tape. Wakako and Frido especially wanted me to draw "people inside the workshop". So that's where the theme of the tape came from. I feel very lucky to meet and be friends with some of the people at Nap Village.The tape features some but not all of the sweet souls who work there. Just to name them, there's Kawano-san, Sano-san, Yanai-san, Omori-san, Ai-san and Matsumoto-san. They are just the few craftsmen that I had the chance to talk to and watch work.
W - Tell us, why do you like TSL?
a - I believe that objects can carry karma, and TSL products are packed with good feelings from passionate craftsmen. The reason why I love TSL is also because I love the people behind the items. I hope that when people buy TSL products, they can understand that there were people behind that item who lovingly poured their years of experience into designing and making that item.
W - Oh, thank you so very much ame! We really agree with you, TSL products are made with high skilled craftmanship, but also lots of love and passion (and that is what really makes them shine...). By the way, what is your favourite TSL product?
a - Oh this is so hard to answer…!!! I'll pick two: one for leather and one for canvas!! The first is probably my favourite bag: Daily Tote. I think it's discontinued, but this tote was my first TSL bag!! I love the canvas material from TSL, it's very high quality and lasts a long time. My bag is now very soft. It's a perfect size to go to the market, or to take with me on a stationary or café meet up!
One of my favourite leather goods is the TSL Purse. It's a small flat wallet that's perfect for light travel. One of my favourite things about TSL products is that they are designed to be very humble and unassuming but they really showcase the quality of materials and its make.
W - Do you have a special experience related to a TSL product?
a - One of my favourite TSL bag is the famous Engineer Bag. But I'm a very small person, so it is actually quite heavy for me to carry daily. At Baum-kuchen, I asked Wakako if BK can have an even smaller Engineer Bag for easier carry. Thus, the BK's version Analogue Bag was born! There were at least three prototypes made and I tested all of them a few days to a few weeks at a time. It took some time and kind patience on the part of TSL as well. When the bag was finally ready to be ordered for sale of course I had to get one. And Yanai-san kindly added a special detail for my bag especially with one of TSL's special Hachigahana rivet. I really enjoyed my involvement in the creation of this variation, so it makes me really happy when I see so many stationery lovers use the Analogue Bag in their daily lives!
W - How do you incorporate TSL in your life?
a - I own many many TSL items, from bags to wallets to notebook covers. I will always have at least one TSL item on my person. I absolutely adore the quality and versatility. I think my favourite TSL item right now (because I love them all and they take turns being favourites) is probably the TSL A5 Organizer in Toscana Navy leather. The Toscana Navy leather is my favourite! I put my Hobonichi Cousin in it and I absolutely love carrying it with me around my apartment to journal and plan. I touch it daily and the leather has become softer over time even though it has barely been a year since I've had it! It's a precious artefact that carries my thoughts, my sadness, my happiness, hopes and dreams. I love using it very much.
I also own a TSL fine draw silver bracelet that I have not taken off since the day I've received it. When I look at it, it reminds me of the lessons I've learned and happy memories spent with TSL. It's become a little memento that reminds me that quality of life can be achieved through time and effort. Much like the TSL motto says "We take pride in craftsmanship and never skimp on time and effort". It can be applied to more than just craftsmanship, we can live better lives by taking the time and effort to enjoy each process.
W - We know you are a big fan of Japan. What do you like about Japan?
a - When I was younger I was SUPER into anime and manga!! But my interests have shifted a lot more towards stationery, cultural foods and the traditional crafts in Japan. Oh, and my favourite franchise is Pokémon!!! To be honest, the few times I've been to Japan was for work, so I have not had a chance to venture outside of Okayama too much. Hopefully in the future I can have more time to explore.
W- What is your favorite place in Japan?
I haven't been to many places, but I very much enjoy West Japan's Seto Inland Sea region a lot. It's close to water, and has a lot of nature areas to visit. I was lucky to do the Shimanami Kaido cycling route on one of my trips. It was extremely beautiful, it is one of my favourite memories. Of course, for shopping, one has to go to Tokyo. These days I just dream about returning to Nap Village.
W - What place would you like to visit when we will be safe to travel again?
a - I plan to go visit family in Canada and TSL family in Japan :) I look forward to connecting with everyone face to face.
W - ame, thank you so very much for your time, we enjoyed so much talking to you. We love to encourage artists to keep creating and we know you have your own online shop and also you run a Patreon. Please, can you share with us your social media?
a - Thank you so much! It's an honour for me to be on the blog for Wanderlust!! I run my own etsy shop where I like selling some small stationery. I also run Patreon where I blog and share about behind the scenes of my work and process. Also on Patreon, I make monthly postcard and sticker for those who would like to receive physical goodies! I post a lot of artworks and about my daily life on my social media. I always hope to harbour a space where people can feel good when they look at my art or my social media :)
Thank you so much for inviting me to the blog!!
We hope you liked this new series and get to know ame a little bit more!!!
See you in the next post!!!