California, New Jersey, Hamburg – West coast, East coast, Europe. With each move Blair Nakamoto, illustration student at Maryland College of Art (MICA), took a leap forward. Born in Anaheim, she spent the first years of her childhood in Arcadia before moving with her family to New Jersey at the age of eight. She joined MICA in 2015 to study for a BFA in Illustration, and in March 20017 she moved to Hamburg, Germany, for a semester as an exchange student in the Department of Design at HAW Hamburg. Throughout all these years, drawing was her leitmotif. 'From early childhood it was the way I spent my time and from really early on I knew it was a part of me,' she says. 'I feel like myself when I am drawing.'
From drawing to illustration
Blair became more serious about art in high school, where she had an art teacher who was very encouraging, and later participated in two young artists’ workshops in the summer, where she spent six hours or more at a time at her easel, practising her craft. One programme taught her to look at animation and illustration and how to combine text with images, taking her beyond just drawing. After completing an associate degree in Applied and Fine Arts, she took a year out and volunteered as an art teacher in Philadelphia, working as a curriculum and lesson-plan developer, while she developed her art portfolio. One of her friends at the non-profit organisation was also an artist and she encouraged Blair to take the next leap and apply to MICA. 'I looked at different schools, but MICA just got their hooks into me,' she says, laughing. 'I liked the location, and lots of people spoke very highly of the illustration programme.'