Haruka Shinji
Haruka Shinji






2008 – IMAGES 32

Haruka is an illustrator and storyteller inspired by history and travel. She mixes the historical elements and her daily life, and creates new stories. She was born in Japan and raised in Shanghai.  She moved to England for further education in 2002. After having her training in RCA, she moved back to Japan and now working as a freelance illustrator in Tokyo.

“I made a toy, which you can raise human-like insects and make specimens of them. The characters of this work are the insects of this toy. Each has its own family and unique story inspired by film, historical figures and my daily life. Through this work, I found the joy of mixing fact and fiction.”

“I always need a huge amount of research before drawing. I liked it but it had also been a struggle. Since winning the award, it gave me the confidence about how I make my work. I have continued making works in the same way in postgraduate study and my professional career.”


BRIEF: I wanted to create a whole world with my illustration. The characters of these cards are human-like insects, all have their own history and family. They have complicated relationships and are driven by desire, jealousy, and vanity just like us. In my story, people can feed these insects and make specimens of them after rising properly.

MATERIALS:  Pencil on paper, Adobe Photoshop, and screenprints.

RESEARCH: Watched as many films as possible, flipped hundreds of old photographs and illustrations, studied historical characters with strange behaviour, and also observed people in daily life. 

PROCESS: Firstly, I built up a character's detail; occupation, family, favourite food etc., then I drew them with very fine pen. After making one hundred of them, I put them together with Adobe Photoshop and screen-printed. 

RESISTANCES: It was very hard to build one hundred characters with their stories. 

INSIGHT: One of my aims was making a hundred characters with detailed stories. I was overwhelmed when I made 60 or 70 of them. But I tried sticking to the first plan and pushed myself hard to finish 100. It finally became my confidence when I fulfilled the aim.

DISTRACTIONS: Good smell of food by my lovely housemates. 

NUMBERS: Yes, 100. (But the work shows less than that due to the lack of space.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: I found the joy of mixing fact and fiction through making this piece. And I still enjoy mixing them to make works.