Q+A : Leeay Aikawa : Illustrator & Designer : Toronto

‘Leeay without collage, is like a woman who is not in love.’

Now, there’s an introduction for you, and a pretty hot one at that. Mama found Leeay in a stumbling, exciting, inspiring, and enticing kind of way, and then we were hooked.  In fact, it was flicking through Lost in London magazine that our addiction started. So we had to find out more, and after a few pigeon deliveries between London and Toronto, we were delivered this charming Q+A from the lady herself. As there is so much to see and taste on the visual trip of this post, we send you a kiss goodbye, and ask you to only share this secret with the most imaginative, vibrant and delicious people you know…xo


Leeay is a Toronto based illustrator originally from Japan. Her first cover art was published on a school-year book, when she was just six. It was a drawing of a hen that she was petting in school. As a child, she would often tell her parents that she was disgusted by certain fonts they used in Toyama, her home-town in Japan. She thought they had no sense of design, even when she didn’t know there was such a field. Perhaps this was a sign that she had a stronger calling from her creative side. However, she ended up entering a rather Math oriented high school and struggled for years, barely passing her Math exams. Toyama City frustrated Leeay, as it was a place which encouraged its students to value mathematics, physics and engineering. Having a career in the Arts was something foreign to the schools of Toyama City.

“I want to be a creative person full of imagination”, Leeay would answer, when her teacher asked her what she wanted to be.

In a way, her dream has come true. Today, when she’s not doing freelance illustration, Leeay is travelling to get more inspiration or biking around the city. Leeay is also a staff illustrator for Rookie (Teen’s website edited by Tavi Gevinson).


1. What is your favourite place for a weekend lunch with the family ?  
————I live in Toronto and there are many good brunch spots. My husband and I recently discovered this restaurant called This End Up  near our house, their Fall Salad is so satisfying.2.What are the 3 most important items in your handbag that you can’t leave home without?  
—-Sugar Advanced Therapy, Water, floss(?) lol3. Where would you love to spend an afternoon (with your girlfriends), and why ?
——–If it is sunny, Trinity Bell Woods Park.  You always run into your friends there, which is awesome.  It is so relaxing and peaceful, yet has some sort of creative vibe there!
4. Which are your 3 favourite designers/ shops ?    
 —————Three designers who come to my mind first are Mary Katrantzou, Valentino, Teatum Jones, even though I have yet to own one by them!  I admire Mary Katrantzou’s graphic.  Her collections inspired me to take a sewing class in a way.  Her newest Money vs Stamp collection was superb.   One day, I am hoping to apply my own graphic/textile design to fashion like she does.  I also love Valentino,  It is always so classy and maximizes women’s beauty.  Obviously I was so inspired enough to make Valentino inspired christmas card.  Teatum Jones is relatively new brand I think but they make some GEWD collection, I also entered their illustration competition in summer, which I ended up being one of top finalists. I admire their edginess combining with elegance and sophistication, I mean look at their newest dress!  Doesn’t it tickle your heart?
5. What products have made the top of your Christmas list this year, for you ?  
6. Which is the most interesting City or Country you have travelled to and why ?
I guess the answer is Istanbul, Turkey.  I’ve been there four times already which explains how much I love it there.  People are polite, food is delish, the view is amazing, night life is excellent and it is a CAT FRIENDLY city.  I miss the noise of Bazaar….
7. What craft tools, can you not live without, and can you leave us one secret-creative tip to share please?
——–scissors and glue and paper?
Tote Bag, christmas cards, artwork available at Etsy here. It says ‘This is not a Bread-Box’ in French. In a way, my collage tote bag of Man Ray and Rene Magritte, whom I admire.


– American Illustration 31
– 3 x 3 Illustration Annual No.7
– Creative Quarterly 19
– CMYK Magazine 46
– American Illustration Tribute
– Applied Arts Student Award


– The New York Times
– The Globe and Mail
– The Walrus Magazine
– Canadian Nurse Magazine
– The Atlantic Magazine


 Eleeayaikawa@gmail.com : W: http://leeayaikawa.com : Blog : http://leeayaikawa.com/blog/ ETSY Shop