My name is Toro Iroka, Ikebana artist with graphic design background.
Maybe you think that those two vocations are quite distinct, but let me tell you that they actually share many characteristics, and the idea of bringing together the worlds of Ikebana and graphic design has become my passion.
As a graphic designer, I’m used to creating the forms, shapes and pictures necessary for my designs. When working with natural materials, however, everything changes, as the forms are already decided. Thus, the greatest challenge is relinquishing control over this part of the process and working with what Mother Nature provides. In this sense, my goal for Ikebana art is not creating beauty, but rather discovering it and finding the best possible way to showcase it.
Because Ikebana is a traditional Japanese art, you might think it’s too rigid, governed by rules rather than creativity. In some ways, it can be. However, I was lucky enough to study at a modern school called Sogetsu, which is is among the most open-minded, forward-thinking Ikebana institutions. Founded by Sofu Teshigahara in 1927, it encourages students to realize individual artistic expression through their arrangements. The Sogetsu school of thought is that Ikebana can be practiced whenever and wherever, using whatever materials are available. This also makes it more affordable to practice outside of Japan.
I was born in Colombia, a tropical country blessed with beautiful landscapes and lush greenery. Since childhoood I’ve been a nature lover. Maybe that’s why when I came to Japan 7 years ago, I immediately felt a kindred spirit with the Japanese and their appreciation of nature, which is manifested in traditional arts such as Ikebana.
Throughout my life, I’ve sought harmony in my environment and felt a desire to illuminate the beauty of natural forms, the pursuit of which has honed my artistic sensibility. When combined with my training as a designer, perhaps you can understand why I couldn’t resist the aesthetic appeal of this ancient, beautiful art.