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Academy Alumna Chiami Sekine Makes a Splash on San Francisco Art Scene

Chiami Sekine is an emerging artist who is making waves in the San Francisco art scene. This successful Academy of Art University alumna has shown in many exhibitions, won contests and continues to impress audiences with her whimsical illustrations of animals and other subjects.

Already an established designer in her native home of Japan, Chiami packed her bags for California to attend the Academy of Art University to earn an MFA in Traditional Illustration with a concentration in picture books. She began her education in design at Kanazawa College or Art, where she majored in Industrial Design. After graduation, she worked as a furniture designer and then moved on to doing freelance illustration.

“Since I worked as a freelance illustrator in Japan, I started to deeply think about my work as an illustrator,” she said. “This motivation to learn more about the field of illustration made me decide to pursue an MFA degree.”

Chiami found learning from industry professionals to be incredibly helpful in her studies. Academy of Art University Illustration instructor Kazu Sano particularly influenced Chiami.

“He encouraged me to keep pursuing my passion as an artist,” she said. “I still think that he is the greatest mentor for me.”

Red Forest 01
Being surrounded by other talented artists at the Academy was also a constant inspiration and motivator for Chiami. “Seeing the creative passions of my fellow classmates was a constant reminder of why I chose to be an artist,” she said.
Chiami’s list of accomplishments is impressive. She’s participated in over a dozen shows and exhibitions all over the United States and Japan. While studying at the Academy, her work was selected for the prestigious Spring Show three years in a row.
“I believe anytime that you can show can show your work to the public is a success,” she said.
And Chiami doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon. In April 2008, she will have an exhibition in the Studio Gallery in San Francisco and in August 2008 she will be showing at the Nickelodeon Animation Studio gallery in Burbank, CA. Additionally, two of her pieces will be featured in the issue #37 of CMYK magazine. 

Fighting With the Dark

For some artists new to the scene, it can be difficult to have your work exhibited in a gallery or museum. Chiami encourages Academy students not to give up and to continue to push themselves.
“If you are doing your best in your work, I believe that people will find you.” 


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