[Interview with illustrator Narcolepsy1999] My first solo exhibition in a year since I started drawing illustrations! Thoughts in creating the work

table of contents


Narcolepsy1999 artist photo

Hello everyone. This is GOSUKE, the manager of MONOLiTH, a contemporary art online shopping site.

The partner of this artist interview is Narcolepsy1999.

An illustrator who has become a hot topic with more than 30,000 followers on Instagram in just over a year since he started drawing illustrations.
The activity name is "central nervous system narcolepsy", which is his own disease, and is characterized by a cute and ennui expression and a light and calm retro pop color reminiscent of the 80's.
This time, at the venue of the first solo exhibition "Akubi", I asked him questions and asked him frankly.

artist profile


Profile picture of Narcolepsy1999

An illustrator who is currently attracting attention for her cute yet ennui expression and her light and calm retro pop colors reminiscent of the 80's.
The number of Instagram followers exceeds 30,000.

Started activities in 2021 under the name of "central nervous system narcolepsy", which is his own disease. Due to illness, he is attacked by intense sleepiness throughout the day and sleeps longer than people.

In August 2022, he held his first solo exhibition “Akubi” in Shinjuku.
The origin of the name of the solo exhibition "Yakubi" is that narcolepsy seeks the "conditions of cuteness", and expresses in one word "imperfection (sloppyness, gaps, laxity)" in those conditions.

Image of Narcolepsy1999

Image of Narcolepsy1999

Image of Narcolepsy1999

Click here for Instagram of Narcolepsy1999

Solo exhibition information

Image of Narcolepsy1999

Narcolepsy1999 1st SOLO EXHIBITION "Akubi"

8.18 (Thursday) ~ 8.28 (Sunday) *Closed from Monday to Wednesday
12:00 PM – 8:00 PM

1-12-4 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0021
Click here for Google Map
*Since the venue is a restaurant, we have received one order.

Solo exhibition of Narcolepsy1999

artist interview

I started painting about a year ago.

ーーWhen did you start drawing?

I started drawing because of a compliment from the office, about a year ago.

ーー1 year ago!? It's amazing that you've improved so much in just a year... What were you doing before you started painting?

Before I started painting, I went to nursing school.

I thought I wanted to become a nurse, but during the time I was attending, my chronic narcolepsy (one of the symptoms of hypersomnia, in which I suddenly feel sleepy during the day and fall asleep) became severe. I was absent from school once.

I had time at that time, so I started drawing, and it continues to this day.

ーーI see, so you wanted to become a nurse. By the way, when you were a student, did you draw pictures, including graffiti?

I didn't draw at all... (laughs)
So when I decided to draw and started drawing, it was really hard...
I wish I had been drawing until now, I wish I had more opportunities to touch paintings (laughs)

ーーEven though you weren't drawing in the first place, you've made a lot of effort to achieve this quality in a year. I'm curious about what kind of motivation you had to start painting in such a situation.

Well, while looking at Instagram, I've always been fascinated by people who draw pictures and works, and without knowing it, I save them, screenshot them and use them as wallpapers, and put them in my folder. Notice the many pictures.

Then I thought that maybe he likes painting, so I had never studied painting, but on impulse, I tried to imitate the works of people I usually see.

That's why I'm still in training, and I can't afford to lower my motivation.

Exploring cute ingredients, this time the theme is "imperfection"

ーーUsually you draw girls, but I feel like there are a lot of artists drawing women these days. What are the characteristics of your narcolepsy works compared to others?

One of the big themes is that I want to draw cute illustrations.

Then, when I think about what constitutes cuteness, I think that one of them is an imperfection, a slight gap, an allowable amount of sloppiness, and so on.

I'm currently searching for the ingredients of cuteness, but this solo exhibition focuses on imperfections and small gaps, so there are parts that are missing in every picture. So I would be happy if you could feel that way.

I was particularly influenced by manga artists.

ーーAre there any illustrators or artists who have influenced you?

I think there are so many. If anything, I wonder if the influence from the manga artist is strong.

I really like the heroines of shonen manga, like Tagawa and Mata sensei, I like illustrator Tsumi Furuta, and I really like Hong Kong people like Little Thunder. )

ーーSo you’ve been influenced a lot. By the way, what is your favorite cartoon?

Hmm... difficult... One Piece is my absolute favorite, but what I personally thought was good was Tagawa and Mata-sensei's ``I tried to fall in love with myself,'' a four-volume complete manga. But it's so good. Although the main character is a woman, it was not a romance manga, but a very wonderful work.

ーーI'll read it! By the way, have you ever thought of becoming a manga artist?

I think it would be difficult to do dozens of works and many volumes, but I have a feeling that I would like to make short stories.

I am the model for the work

ーーAre there any models for the cute girls in the drawings?

When I have an idea of ​​what I want to draw and what kind of composition would be good, I take a video of myself and use that as a reference when drawing.

ーーI see. It's like taking a picture of yourself and drawing while watching the movement.

That's right.

Also, it's not that I only draw women, but I would like to draw men if I get an order.

ーーThat's right, have you ever drawn a man before?

Yes, I have received requests to draw men several times.

--Is there a difference in how you draw men and women?

I usually draw women, so I often find myself at a loss as to what to do if they look a little too cute when I look at the finished product (laughs).

ーーI see. What do you usually draw with?

I usually draw with an iPad and Apple Pencil, and an app called CLIP STUDIO.

First Solo Exhibition "About Yawning"

ーーPlease tell us about your solo exhibition “Akubi”. What is the reason behind the title "Akubi"?

This overlaps with the part I talked about earlier, but I decided that the imperfection and sloppiness that are the ingredients of cute this time should be tightly rounded and expressed as an act of yawning.

Image of Narcolepsy1999

ーーI think you've been drawing as an illustration until now, but this is the first time you're drawing as an art work. Difference between art and illustration.

I really felt the difference.

I think that illustrations are originally illustrations for novels, products and services, and have a strong element of creating visual images in context. It is clear what to convey and how to see it. I think illustrations make it easy to imagine how the viewer feels.

However, that is not the case with art production at all.It is about how to express what you usually see on SNS in real life, the texture, the caption, and the addition of a little poetry. , I devised so that you can feel the difference.

▼ Each work has a poem written by the artist himself

Solo exhibition image of Narcolepsy1999

Image of Narcolepsy1999

Image of Narcolepsy1999

ーーThis time, all of your works come with a poem that you came up with yourself. It's a story inspired by each piece.

ーーI think this is the first time that you have made your work from digital to real.

I made the printing paper as textured as possible. I wanted to make something that would give you a feeling of unevenness and blurring when you actually see it with your eyes, so I made a nice piece of paper (laughs).

ーーWell, you chose from about 50 kinds.

▼How to choose printing paper

Narcolepsy1999 production scene

ーーAs for the highlights of this exhibition, I think that all the works are worth seeing, but I personally think that this participatory work is interesting.

It's a social experiment, and paints and hammers are placed in front of the work, and it's OK to scratch the work freely. If even one person damages the work, this work will be discarded without being sold.
The intention is to imagine what would happen if the same situation were given to the internet where slander is flying around.

I explained most of it, but please let me know if you have any thoughts on this work!

▼Social experiment work "Imperfection"

Solo exhibition image of Narcolepsy1999

Solo exhibition of Narcolepsy1999

Solo exhibition of Narcolepsy1999

I want people to see my work and do something about it, and of course it's okay to hurt them, and doing nothing is also an action. That's what I thought.

ーーI hope it stays until the end... By the way, this piece is a one-of-a-kind item and will be sold by lottery. Other works are in the form of first-come-first-served basis.

ーーDo you have a favorite piece in this exhibition?

Hmmm... It's annoying... I think "Town Time" is really good.
The word "cute" suits her well, and I couldn't help but say it when I finished drawing it (laughs).

▼ Narcolepsy 1999's "town time"

Image of Narcolepsy1999

ーーThe same goes for Machi Jikan, but I feel that the title is unique. How did you come up with it?

▼ Narcolepsy 1999 works and titles

Image of Narcolepsy1999

I always decide after finishing the drawing. I'm thinking about how I felt when I was drawing.

For example, in "Town Time", I chose this title because I feel like I'm waiting for someone when I'm drawing, and I've been to various towns.

Image of Narcolepsy1999

As for "Pierced Earrings", it was a work that reminded me of when I was a student, so I remembered my feelings at that time and decided from the point of "I wish I had pierced earrings...".

Image of Narcolepsy1999

So after I finish drawing, it feels like a title is attached to what I imagine when I look at the picture.

--The title is not based on the title, but on the basis of the work. It's an interesting way to make it.

Well, I'm always trying out different things when drawing my works, so I look back on that later and decide on the title.

ーーTell us about your impressions of the exhibition for the first time.

Everyday is exciting and fun!
A lot of people came to see me, and I was able to talk to them, and I am full of gratitude.

What I want to challenge next is analog work

ーーI think that you are taking on a new challenge in the form of an exhibition this time.

This time, I made an analog work using spray on the mirror for the first time. I tried this and it was hard but fun. That's why I'd like to try painting with spray paint.

What Art Means for Narcolepsy

ーーThis is the last question, what is art for narcolepsy?

It's difficult... it feels like something huge.
But little by little, I vaguely think I'm starting to see it in myself... I just can't verbalize it at all (laughs)
So I would like to explore further.

ーーThis exhibition is certainly the first step for an artist, isn't it?

ーーThank you very much for your time today! I can't wait to see what you do in the future!

Click here for the actual interview video

This interview was conducted on Instagram Live.
Please listen to the live voice of the artist who actually speaks.

Instagram live of Narcolepsy1999

Click here for Narcolepsy1999 Instagram live

At the end

This concludes our interview with Narcolepsy1999, who started drawing illustrations about a year ago from zero knowledge, became popular on social media, and held his first solo exhibition this time.

Keep an eye on Narcolepsy1999, which continues to grow at an amazing speed. Also, please come and visit us at our solo exhibition!

▼Solo exhibition information
Image of Narcolepsy1999

Narcolepsy1999 1st SOLO EXHIBITION "Akubi"

8.18 (Thursday) ~ 8.28 (Sunday) *Closed from Monday to Wednesday
12:00 PM – 8:00 PM

1-12-4 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0021
Click here for Google Map *Since the venue is a restaurant, we have received one order.

Narcolepsy1999's works are also available on the online shopping site MONOLiTH!
Please check it out.

Click here for Narcolepsy1999's work

Thank you for reading this far.
See you soon!

MONOLiTH Operation Manager
Gosuke Onoda