Nov 9

JET Alum Artist Beat: LeJarie Noguchi, Artist’s Representative at ARTas1

******** JET Alum Artist Beat is a new feature organized by Jessica Sattell (Fukuoka-ken, 2007-2008) intending to share the wide scope of creative work that JET alumni are pursuing as artists, designers, and/or craftspeople, either professionally or for personal enjoyment. She is interested in interviewing and providing exposure for artists and arts professionals, and welcomes links to online portfolios, stores and businesses. Feel free to email Jessica at hello (dot) jessicasattell (at) gmail (dot) com with suggestions.

How do artists get their work into world-renowned galleries? How do companies find ways to visually enhance their brand images? How do publishers find illustrators for manuscripts and cover art? The answers are all rooted in the diverse fields of arts marketing and artist representation! LeJarie (Battieste) Noguchi (Aichi-ken, 1995-1998) is an Artist’s Representative at ARTas1, a Torrance, California-based company that helps bring the visions of dynamic Japanese visual artists to North America through licensing channels and gallery exhibitions. ARTas1 positions itself as a unique firm in that it represents and promotes exclusively Japanese artists. Their goal is to bridge the Japanese and the worldwide art communities into a shared celebration of creative talent, hence the “1” in their title.

A small sample of ARTas1’s artists and the variety of their styles

LeJarie brings her experiences as a reporter, writer, translator, and Japanese media consultant to her position, where she represents over 70 unique artists working in a wide variety of mediums and styles. She graciously took the time to share a little more about her profession as well as the work of one of her favorite up-and-coming artists.

Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you become interested in Japan and choose to participate in the JET Program?

I majored in Japanese Studies at UCLA, and when I first began my studies, I had never heard of the JET Program. Originally, I thought I would just go to Japan and find a job or continue my studies there. But, when I heard about the opportunity to live and work in Japan through JET, I was determined to go. Thankfully, I was accepted. I didn’t really have a Plan B, but I do remember asking all of my family members for enough money for a one-way ticket to Tokyo if I didn’t get accepted to the JET Program!

How did you become involved with ARTas1?

I saw a job listing there about six years ago and contacted them about the position. At that time I didn’t have any direct sales experience and wasn’t involved much with Japanese art. But then I happened to see another listing with them about two years ago, contacted them, and they hired me! By then I had a bit more sales experience and more experience with art and media.

What does an Artist’s Representative do?

As an Artists’ Representative, I’m responsible for bringing their art to the wider world. I arrange art exhibitions and contract or work-for-hire positions for them. I also try to obtain licensing agreements or contracts for their work for commercial purposes, such as for use on greeting cards, apparel, decor and so on. I really don’t have a typical day that would vary from any other business, but most of it consists of researching sources for possible licensing deals and trying to stay abreast of new exhibitions and trends in the art world.

HARUKA’s ‘Omou’ Kiri-e (cut paper)

What kinds of people or companies approach you about your artists?

We are approached by a wide variety of companies. I think the reason is that we represent over 70 Japanese illustrators, so our range is huge; from traditional Japanese imagery and edgy anime to children’s illustrations and science fiction/fantasy-inspired art. As a result, our artists have done a wide range of projects, from restaurant menus and home decor to toothbrushes, greeting cards and apparel.

How does ARTas1 find their artists?

I think it’s a mixed bag of suggestions from our current artists, word of mouth and submissions directly from the artists themselves.

What’s the hardest part about your job? The most rewarding?

The hardest would be when a project or agreement falls apart at the last minute. The most rewarding is seeing my artists’ work in a gallery for an exhibition or on something that has been licensed.

You’ve shared some images here from one of your artists, HARUKA (formerly Tamagiku). Tell us a little about her work.

HARUKA is an amazing woman who creates these amazing pieces of kiri-e (cut paper), mostly from just one piece of paper using an ordinary xacto knife. Her pieces are edgy, intricate and delicate all at the same time. She has done a commission for the head of NIKE that combined the NIKE symbol with shogun imagery. We’re currently seeking galleries nationwide to exhibit her pieces, and book publishers to utilize her work for cover art.

HARUKA’s ‘Stream and Flowers’ Kiri-e (cut paper)

What excites you about Japanese art and artists?

The beauty and the talent of the works and the artists. I get excited from even just holding a simple Japanese ceramic cup or bowl that has that imperfect reflection of a wabi sabi style. And I get excited when I see new artists taking traditional art forms and blending them with modern styles and everyday influences. It all makes me feel that art is alive and always moving forward.

What are your interests or hobbies, outside of work?

Well, ART is one of my favorite interests outside of work. I’ve been a big Japanophile since the late 1990s, so I love anything and everything related to Japanese culture, music, movies, and cultural trends. I also love to travel, and recently I’ve become very interested in space as my 3-year-old daughter has become obsessed with all things related to the solar system, space shuttles and the moon!

Do you have any suggestions for artists looking for find representation?

Do your research first. Make sure that any agency you’re looking at is a good fit for your art by making sure that they represent other artists with your similar style or concept. Also, create a great portfolio with lots of art! If you’re interested in licensing your art, create pieces in themes or sets, such as different seasons for prints or greeting cards.

For more information about ARTas1 or HARUKA’s work, please feel free to contact LeJarie directly: lejarie (at) or visit the ARTas1 website.

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