AX 2023: Illustrator Acky Bright Talks About His Kawakakkoii Style and Approach to Art

With so many artists and exhibitors at Anime Expo, it can be hard for some booths and displays to stand out. The sheer volume of people crowding the aisles, the limited amount of time, and the exhausting walk from one end of the convention center to the other can deter many attendees from taking the time to explore all the booths. With an eye-catching art style, illustrator Acky Bright attracted a constant flow of visitors, stopping by to buy his merchandise, watch him draw, or admire his work. The artist has been spending his time at the convention working on free-hand drawings on two large canvases. Taking a quick break, APA sat down with Acky Bright to discuss his art, signature style, and more.

His self-described signature style is “kawakakkoii,” a mixture of cute and cool elements that was influenced by the golden age of Japanese anime and manga. “In Japan, it’s very common for the “kawaii” style to be more upfront and mainstream, but growing up, I read American comics and graphic novels, so I think the coolness came from that.” Honing his skill and style over the years, the artist enjoys the contrast in his pieces and is confident in his abilities. Various companies have reached out to him to work on projects like manga designs, character designs, and toy collaborations. However, Acky Bright never lets them take away his creative freedom and control. “There certainly are aspects where you’re working with a client and you want to satisfy what they want, but at the same time, they’re coming to me so they have an expectation of my lines and my style. There are a few adjustments that are made [depending on the project], but at the same time, I want to do the art that I am capable of.”

Working on his art through various mediums, the illustrator is comfortable with drawing on canvas, paper, and digitally. Without a preference, his work now takes on different shapes, sizes and formats. His art featured in his Instagram posts tend to be on the smaller side as he records his creation process, and it usually takes around two hours to complete each one. With so many well-crafted pieces under his belt, the artist hosted a solo art gallery in Tokyo last year. Sharing his hopes for the future, the illustrator also wishes to be able to take his gallery around the world one day.

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When approaching each drawing, Acky Bright’s years of practice and experience have allowed him to utilize a free-hand drawing technique, not sketching out any lines and just going with the flow of what he sees in his mind. Even as he worked on the two large canvases he had brought to Anime Expo, he never wavered once as he brought his vision to life. Even with all the experience and skill in the world, however, mistakes can and will happen. Not dwelling on anything for too long, the artist never lets these mistakes take him down. If he messes up on a large canvas? He’ll work around it and somehow weave it into the piece. If it’s on a smaller paper or canvas? He’ll simply start over, not dwelling on any mishaps and simply moving forward. This strong attitude towards his art is what’s allowed him to create so many pieces and become the illustrator he is today.

Five years ago, however, the world hadn’t even known who Acky Bright was. “So until 2018, I was drawing a lot, but anonymously. Around that time, I had a change in heart and decided that I wanted to put my stuff out there myself a little bit more. I really thought of expressing it sort of worldwide,” he said. Thinking back on when he first started pursuing this career, Acky Bright has one important piece of advice for those seeking to do the same. “More than anything, it’s important to enjoy the art of drawing yourself. It’s not about being, you know, praised by other people or external sort of factors. You have to enjoy it first. Nowadays you have things like AI that can draw, but for me, it’s always about enjoying drawing more.”

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