Photo by David Frank
KiKi / Kiyono Saito
Illustrator & Muralist
KiKi is a Japanese Illustrator born in a beautiful small village in Japan, based in Berlin, Germany.
Her illustrations are greatly influenced by her childhood memories in a small Japanese village rich in nature where was born and raised. She learned about Intuition, sensation, and many colors formations there and met characters hidden in nature. She is particularly picky about colors, and creates her own mixtures of red, blue, yellow, and white for the paint on her murals.
She graduated from character design ( Illustration & Animation ) at Kyoto university of the Arts in 2012, and worked for 3 years as an assistant in the manga department of Kyoto university of the Arts.
In the summer of 2016, she moved to an international city, Berlin, Germany, out of her desire to see more of the world. The intersection of different races, cities, and nature has further developed her sense of color.
Currently, along with she works with businesses on illustrations, since 2022 she creates illustrations as a tool for the natural environment and peaceful activities. In particular, her murals breathe new life into buildings, connect people and communities through illustrations, and create a circle of happiness.
※As a sequela of sudden deafness that developed at the end of 2021, I have a recruitment phenomenon (Deafness in the high register/ auditory hyperesthesia) in my left ear, so sometimes difficult to listen. For that reason, I often have earplug in my left ear and when talking I may ask again
There is no public transport. An hour drive to the nearest store by her father’s car. Anyway, her home town is a really really small village but with a lot of beautiful nature (Currently around 25 people live in there). When she was a child, it was great entertainment to play in nature endlessly with paper, color pens, and the fantasy world of her head.
Since there was no high school closeby, she left her parents’ home to go to the one in another city. She had to be independent of 15 years old and drawing illustrations with the fantasy world of her head became mental support for her.
Why did she start mural painting?
When she moved to Berlin in 2016, found many murals in the city. That’s couldn’t see that view in Japan, so it was very attractive to her and thought, “I want to paint a big mural, too!” But when she first moved here, couldn’t speak English and German well, so she didn’t know where and how to ask someone ” Can I paint a mural ?”.
Time passed, and in the winter of 2021, she temporarily returned to Japan because her grandpa was ill. He is a carpenter and farmer and has an atelier built by hisself. He has always loved creating things, and I wanted to encourage him by creating something with him. So she decided to paint a mural in his atelier. This is her first mural. Her grandpa was very happy with the mural, and she was also very happy. And it became the last big present from her to her loved grandpa.
From that experience, after returning to Berlin, she decided to “paint murals to make people happy!” and started her career as a muralist in 2022.
After experiencing various mural productions in Germany, when she returned to Japan temporarily in 2023, she created a mural for her grandmother’s older sister in her small home village. It gave villagers happiness and hope. She wanted to do something for her small home village, and she found that her murals created a good circle.
So she plans to gain more experience in painting murals in Europe and to create murals in her small home village every time she returns to Japan once a year. Ultimately, she hopes to create a village filled with happy murals : )
Embassy of Germany – Tokyo, Japan / NHK Publishing, Inc. – Tokyo, Japan / Hakusuisha Publishing Co.,Ltd. – Tokyo, Japan / SHOGAKUKAN Inc. – Tokyo, Japan / Süddeutsche Zeitung Familie – Munich, Germany / Bezirkszentralbibliothek Pablo Neruda – Berlin, Germany / Stiftung Berliner Leben – Berlin, Germany / INA.KINDER.GARTEN (Neue Steinmetzstraße）– Berlin, Germany / KinderKünsteZentrum Berlin – Berlin, Germany / etc…
World Web Article Award 2019 / writes publisher prize
– Tokyo, Japan. As a supplementary prize, my essay joined a book and published in 2020
Kyoto university of the Arts Graduation show 2012 / Character design department Outstanding Student Award
– Kyoto, Japan
2023 Urban art festival ibug – Leipzig, Germany
TANDEM TALES: FROM LANGUAGE EXCHANGE TO ART EXHIBITION – Tandem App (Berlin, Germany)