The place where everyone supports my growth as a manga creator and where I am inspired by artists of many genres.

Nopiyaka Kozue

manga creator from Kumamoto city, Kumamoto prefecture

Question 1

Why did you decide to move into the Artists Village?

Before I moved in here, I drew manga and worked part-time at the COAMIX Manga Lab in Kumamoto city. I first sent my submission to a manga competition as a university student, but it was actually my mother who had seen a flyer about the Manga Lab opening in the city and encouraged me to apply for it. I was charmed by the idea that I could be working in an environment that is closely connected to manga, and on top of that, I also liked the fact that it allows artists to bring their own tools.

It was in January 2021 that I first heard about the Artists Village. The idea of immersing oneself in manga without worrying about living costs seemed appealing to me. I wanted to challenge myself by living on my own, so in the following month I went to visit the Artists Village for the first time.

After arriving in Takamori Town, I had no objections about the facilities in the Artists Village. Each living space is arranged so that it can fit six people with private bedrooms. The bathroom and living room are shared by 3 tenants. The shared space is also conveniently equipped with a large-sized TV in the living room and a washer-dryer combo in the bathroom. One thing I am especially happy about is the floor heating system. Compared to my hometown of Kumamoto, Takamori Town is situated under Mt. Aso, and the cold that lasts from winter to spring is definitely something I am not used to.

As for meals, I was surprised to find out that the Artists Village has a professional chef who carefully plans nutritious meals three times per day. I have a feeling that my appetite grew larger ever since I moved here and that I even gained a little weight (haha). Since it is cooked so well, I even grew to appreciate the food that I originally did not like. In such good hands, I’m able to stay healthy during my stay here.

Question 2

What do you think of the Artists Village as an environment for drawing manga?

The Art Studio is on the second floor of the Artists Village and has desk divider panels, which allows me to immerse myself in my world. One thing that I find especially useful is my desk is spacious enough to spread out reference material and draw at the same time. I can conveniently let the ink dry on one page and at the same time proceed onto creating a new page. I currently use traditional inking techniques, but there are also digital tools available in the studio, which I am thinking of using in the future.

During my lunch break or coffee break, I go to the lobby on the ground floor and I can hear the drama actresses’ voices as they practice, or the sounds of taiko, a traditional Japanese drum. Through sharing the same space with them, I’m encouraged by the artists who are working hard to master the art of theatre, even though we work in different fields. I didn’t know about this kind of solidarity until I moved here.

Question 3

What is your typical day like?

I wake up at 7AM and I arrive at work at 10AM. it happens quite often that I only stop drawing manga at 9PM, when the facilities close. After I put down my pen, I return to my room, watch TV, and take a shower. I go to bed at 11PM or midnight. Close to the Artists Village there is a campground and a municipality management office, so the nights are quiet and I can sleep soundly. It is in complete contrast with my hometown, where some kind of noise can be heard at any time.

On my days off I go shopping for daily necessities. The company offers several bicycles and cars to borrow.

Question 4

What is your next goal?

I want to become better at creating manga and in the future I aim to publish a manga series.

Question 5

Please leave a message for people who are thinking of moving into the Artists Village.

A certain amount of bravery is needed in order to move to an unknown place and live with people you do not know. That was certainly case in point for me. However, since arriving here I came to realise that this is a place full of people who support me. Every single person here- editors, permanent facility staff, and members of the drama group- everyone contributes to creating an environment that welcomes and encourages me.

If you move into the Artists Village, rent and utilities are subsidized by the company, so you only need to take care of daily necessities. If you are like me and worry about planning and organizing your daily life, then this place might be perfect for you. You don’t have to worry about meals and the Artists Village can give you the foundations to focus on your craft, so if you feel that this might be the right place for you, why don’t you pay a visit and check it out?

Link to Nopiyaka Kozue’s original work, “The Life of Small People” awarded with an Excellence Award at the 2nd COAMIX's Kyushu Manga Award

The Life of Small People

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Link to COAMIX Manga Lab, in Tsuruya Department Store, Kumamoto city

COAMIX Manga Lab

COAMIX Manga Lab

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