Artist Interview: Jerrod Maruyama


Jerrod Marayuma is a freelance illustrator and creator of kawaii pushing the boundaries of cuteness. He’s a longtime favorite of Supahcute and one of the sweetest people you will ever meet. I’m proud to feature Jerrod in my latest Supahcute Artist Interview.

How do you manage the balance between freelance work and personal work?

Freelance work is my day job. That’s my bread and butter and I devote at least eight hours a day to that work. The evenings are usually reserved for personal projects and art shows. As I’ve become busier with just about everything I’ve found it helpful to schedule time to work on specific projects. I have to break down work into manageable sections to accomplish everything on time. Of course, this is a fluid project. Things change. Other projects pop up. Life interrupts. But in general, I have to schedule everything out as much as I can. Long gone are the days of finishing one project before starting another – which is what I prefer. But I’m not complaining.


I’m always impressed with how you’re always on top of things. What’s the secret to your success?

In all honesty, I love what I do and I feel extremely lucky to be creating for a living. That motivates me to work hard. Over time, you start to see where your time and effort is best spent. Promoting work, creating new work, staying inspired – this is my job. It’s not optional. When you’re self-employed, there really are no vacations. If I’m not working, I’m not getting paid. I find it very easy to stay motivated because if I coast, the repercussions are felt instantly. Again, I’m not complaining. I enjoy the work immensely –not all of it of course. But drawing and creating are what I live for. The other stuff – paperwork, taxes, schedules, etc – are just part of the job. To me, that stuff is just common sense. Hit your deadlines. Pay your bills. Promote your work. Those are easy because there’s nothing to think about. It’s very clear what needs to be done. They’re all connected.


What upcoming project are you excited about right now? Or is it super-secret?

I will tell you and then I will have to kill you. I’m involved in a lot of long term projects at the moment and that’s great. Been working with Disney Baby on a line of books and that’s been ongoing for a few years now. I’m working on new things with WonderGround Gallery all the time. I’ve got a few other projects that I’m excited about but will wait to say anything more. It’s not that I’m secretive – it’s that I’m completely superstitious. I feel like talking too much about a project before it’s out there will jinx the process. I’d much rather promote the finished piece than explain why it didn’t happen for whatever reason.


What is the biggest lesson that 2016 has taught you?

That’s a tough question. The older I get, the more I see that opportunity is out there. You have to grab it. You can’t wait for the Universe to tell you “Now is the time”. That’s never going to happen. I don’t just mean getting started in a career. I think it’s true for every step of your career. How and when you take your career to the next level is up to you. I think we are often sidetracked by the fear of the unknown. We’re all very good at creating elaborate excuses for not doing something. We’re also very good at procrastinating. We tell ourselves we have to research this first or think about this or that. In reality, you have to just jump in. You have to do it. I’m not advocating a reckless approach. You still have to be smart and work hard. But there’s a big difference between talking about doing something and actually doing it. There will of course be challenges and failure. But no amount of planning can side step that. It’s part of the process. I struggle with this every day but once you start seeing the benefits of being out there and doing what you love, the rewards outweigh the risks. I can’t say there was something specific that happened in 2016 to make me think this way but I definitely thought a lot about this in the past 12 months or so.


You can only ride one Disney ride for the rest of your life. Which one is it?

It’s a small world. Yep, I can ride that thing over and over and never get bored or even tire of the song. I love the look and feel. There’s so much to see. It beautifully represents the work of Mary Blair in a way few artists are represented in that park. There might be more exciting rides for sure but you can’t say any of them have more going on than in it’s a small world.


Visit Jerrod’s website to see more of his work.