I’m in awe of artists – the one’s who create using nothing but a simple tool and their imagination. Today, we’re getting to chat with one artist who uses watercolors and words to explore the unknown and inspire viewers to dig deeper. Needless to say, I am a big fan!
Satsuki Shibuya has been on my radar since moving to Los Angeles four years ago. Her beautifully curated Instagram feed was always being talked about amongst my in-the-know friends, and so naturally I had to see what everyone was talking about. I was wowed from the first image I saw.
Satsuki is an energy painter and spiritual thinker who inspires others to look into their own souls, and to find gratitude and appreciation for the journey we are all on (together) – life. The beautiful way she uses brush strokes to convey larger life themes is genius. And emotionally resonant.
While I could talk for hours about why her work is such a treasure, I’ll stop here and dive right into our conversation. I hope you’re as inspired by this talented woman, as I am!
This is truly a dream come true for me, Satsuki! I’m honored to get to chat with you here today, and share a bit about you with our readers. So let’s dig in. Tell us a bit about you, what you do, create and love.
Thank you for having me, this is an honor! So I’m originally from a little town north of Los Angeles called La Crescenta (although most native Angelenos who I’ve met seem to look puzzled when I say I’m from here, ha!) and have lived in Los Angeles for all of my life. After moving to downtown Los Angeles and living there for 5 years, my husband and I decided to move to Rancho Palos Verdes, where we currently reside.
What do I do in the world? I feel as though I’ve searched for this answer all my life and finally I see the pieces coming together. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to do something that would change the world for the better, to help others, and to do work that would go beyond my gender. At the time, coming from a more traditional Asian household, I thought the expectation was for me to become a housewife. There is nothing wrong with this, and many of my friends who have chosen this path are truly happy, but for myself, it never quite felt like the right fit.
Ever since this realization, I’ve been on the hunt and continuously refine my path, but know that I’m finally beginning to embark on my true life’s work.
I love simplicity, but most likely because my inner life is quite complex. I also love a bit of surprise within simplicity – like little design elements in clothes – an oversized pocket for an otherwise timeless minimal aesthetic. I love having a different perspective. I have this board on Pinterest called “beautiful strange” which illustrates this love. I’m drawn to things that are beautiful, but with a twist. For clothing, I’m currently in love with Black Crane and Elizabeth Suzann — the little details in minimal, timeless pieces. Just hits the spot!
But interestingly with food, I like things quite simple. I think this is because, in one of my past lives, I was a farmer. I can recall telling my mom one day after returning from summer camp where I ate all different kinds of foods, “Mom, I’m the happiest with just a bowl of rice, umeboshi (pickled Japanese plum) and some miso soup. Everything else is icing on the cake.” Not much has changed since.
I also love quiet mornings, the sounds of nature, the breeze coming in during an afternoon nap on a late spring/early summer day…
So beautiful. I too love that contrast of simplicity with a twist – it’s so inspiring and unexpected (and fun!). So, let’s talk about how you decided to start painting and eventually start your business?
After going to two Universities, having many jobs and internships, seeing different industries and sizes of companies worked, I knew deep down starting my own company was what I wanted. In some ways, I’ve always been a lone wolf and as much as I love connecting with people, when it comes down to it, I need quiet and my own space to explore and expand. My innermost thoughts and visions come from these quiet moments and to be able to create what I need to create, requires working alone.
I so resonate with that. I’m definitely more introverted and crave that alone time to create. I’m curious, what do you feel is most important about the work you’re doing in the world?
After becoming ill, searching for the meaning of all that has happened in my life, and connecting to my true self (which I’d hid for most of my life), I now see why I do what I do. Simply put, I know I’m here to be a catalyst for love, peace, and harmony through art and words. I’m not sure why or how, but deep down I know this is my life mission and when I tune into this part of myself, all is right and there isn’t an ounce of self-consciousness or doubt.
That’s amazing and feels so clear. It’s funny how often times when it comes to our life’s mission we can often not intellectually understand why – but just feel and know that it is true. While you have clarity now about what you’re creating, I’m sure that hasn’t always been the case. Doing this kind of work is not always cupcakes and rainbows. So tell us how you stay motivated and inspired in work and life when things are feeling less than wonderful.
For myself, I think it’s always staying focused on the “why” of what I’m doing. Why do I feel it’s important to create art? Why is it important to share words, thoughts, poetry, messages, verses, quotes. I always question whether I’m the best person to be talking about business as I’m sure many of the things I do are the opposite of what is written in business books, but it works for me. I trust my intuition and in order to hear the whispers of my soul, I have to always be mindful of staying connected to spirit. No matter what I’m doing, it all stems from there and therefore, it’s at the forefront of all that I do, work and life.
But as humans, we have physical limitations and for myself, I tend to get tired quite easily and have to be mindful to not overly push myself regardless of whatever else is happening around me. It’s always a balancing of the momentum I want and what my physical body is requesting. I find that carving out time for rest and sometimes even taking extended time off (I try to take a couple months off in a year), allows for new ideas and better solutions.
I couldn’t agree more. Time off is the salve to the overworked mind and body. So, I’m sure you have people you look up to in business – I’d love to know who inspires you?
Right now, and for a very long time, it has been a combination of Yayoi Kusama and Akihiro Miwa. Two very expressive people in what they do, but in two totally different formats. Yayoi, through her art, reconnected and continues to connect to the essence of who she is and as said in some of her interviews, is what keeps her sane. She says that art saved her.
Akihiro Miwa, is more in line with what I aspire to be as an individual — to have a strong sense of who I am, to not be afraid to stand for what I believe in and be who I am no matter what others may say, to share such insights through creativity and words, and to continue being someone that anyone (from all walks of life) can relate to. I guess that’s not about business so much, but then again, I’ve never really thought about what I do as “business”, except that it is part of my livelihood. It’s just life — and fully integrated into my existence.
Many people talk about doing work that doesn’t feel like work – I think that’s really true for a lot of people. Business isn’t something separate, it’s part of who we are and the life we live. And because life can get complicated at times – what’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome since starting to do your work? What helped you get over that hurdle?
I’m not sure if it’s the biggest obstacle since I truly don’t feel that there is anything that’s an obstacle — it’s all been a learning experience that has led me to now. But if I were to pick one thing, it would most likely be becoming suddenly ill.
It had been about a year and a half since I started my company and all was going according to the plan. I used to be quite a control freak and perfectionist, so I needed everything in my business to be planned out. Things were beginning to pick up and I felt the momentum building to the next level. Then suddenly, I became ill, and it all came to a halt. I couldn’t even get out of bed on days when things were bad.
I had a full year of doing nothing. I felt anger, despair and felt that everything I’d worked for up until that point would vanish into thin air. But this obstacle ended up being the best thing that would happen to me.
The illness lead me down a path of questioning and self-discovery, which ultimately inspired me to do what I do today. The spirituality behind my work, the energy painting, energy reading, all that I share and continue to create, all stems from that illness. If it weren’t for this happening, all that is right now, would not exist. So, although it may have seemed like an obstacle when it first happened, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t change anything.
Yes! It’s so true that our biggest gifts (and lessons) come from our biggest struggles. That’s true for me (and many of our readers I’m sure). Ok, let’s lighten things up a bit – what are 5 things you can’t live without (like ever)?
- Quiet time
- My husband/dog/family
What does it mean to you, to live a life and have a business – with SOUL?
To always be questioning whether what one is doing is in line with what the soul is wanting. To be authentic, humble, and focused on the ‘why’ of one’s existence. To infuse this energy into the ‘work’ that you do.
That might be the most beautiful and eloquent answer to that question I’ve ever heard. Thank you for that! Another not-so-random question I have (as a big birthday fan), I’d love to know your dream way to spend a birthday?
There is a part of me that imagines a quiet day at home with a magazine in my hand, no phone, no computer, no interruptions, but just pure serenity, with a cool breeze coming through a window. Looking out, full of sunshine.
And another part of me imagines being in Santorini with my husband, relaxing, looking out into the ocean, and eating a fruit tart. It’s one of my favorite foods and yet I have had one in about 4 years now because of my gluten, dairy and no sugar diet. But we’re talking about dreams, so it would have to be included!
Oooh, I love fruit tarts – they are so perfectly sweet and creamy and delicious. Ok, what are the top places you’d send me if I was visiting your ‘hood?
- South tip of Palos Verdes overlooking the ocean. It’s breathtaking.Horseback riding in the Foothills. Riding in the untouched hills are unforgettable.
- Horseback riding in the Foothills. Riding in the untouched hills are unforgettable.
- A meal at Rice in Manhattan Beach. It’s one of my favorite restaurants.
Tell us what you’re working on right now that feels like a celebration?
A book about being in the moment. It’s a coming together of words and art and feels exciting just thinking about sharing it with the world.
That is so exciting – I can’t wait to get a copy of the book when it’s complete. Congratulations on this project! Through the process of this book and everything you’ve created, and the life you’ve lived, you’ve undoubtedly learned a lot – if you knew then, what you know now, what message would you have for your younger self?
That all the confusion and isolation I feel about not being myself will all make sense in a couple of years.
And breathe. It’s all going to be okay.
And finally — what is one thing you know to be true?
We are all destined to be the best versions of ourselves.
. . . . . .
Satsuki Shibuya is a gift to the world. She has listened to the call of her soul and is creating art and writing words that are filled with truth and help spread love. She is a living, breathing example of what it means to follow your heart and do work that matters.
Thank you for sharing so deeply and generously with us today Satsuki. We are all so blessed to benefit from your creativity – don’t ever stop sharing that with us, we need it, now more than ever. I’m grateful to have found you and your work, and to be able to share it with the readers here. From the bottom of my heart – thank you!
To find out more about Satsuki, and to check out more of her beautiful work, find her on Instagram and check out her website (one of her beautiful watercolors is definitely on my bucket list)! You can also find out more about her and stay up-to-date on her Words & Watercolors series for The Girl Who Knows, over on her contributor page.
Thanks for being here with us, and I’ll catch you again very soon – we have more chats with brilliant women coming your way soon!
Photos courtesy of Satsuki Shibuya