Get to Know Our 2021 Lucky Bag Artist: Aoi Yamaguchi


Even in the most uncertain times, you know you can count on our annual Lucky Bags. These mystery boxes not only come filled with makeup, skincare, and haircare faves, they also come in custom artwork you won’t find anywhere else.

This year’s artwork, designed by Aoi Yamaguchi, features “暁” (meaning dawn or daybreak) written in a creative, rhythmical and flowing so-sho (cursive script). Aoi wrote the character while listening to a song called “Beginning” by Minamo, imagining the tranquil yet powerful view of daybreak, the soothing movement of the morning breeze, and the warmth of the sun rising over the horizon. We hope our 2021 Lucky Bags serve as rays of light that bring you hope and good fortune for the coming year as well as help you shine from within. Here’s more about Aoi’s inspiration and process.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Aoi Yamaguchi, and I’m a Japanese calligrapher. I create artworks both in traditional and in my own styles, perform large-scale live calligraphy events, and teach workshops and lessons. I was born and raised in Hokkaido, Japan, and I came to the U.S. for studies when I was 19. I currently live in Los Angeles with my husband and 16-month-old son. When I’m not creating, my fast-growing, ever-curious son keeps me busy!

How did your journey with Japanese calligraphy start?

My mother took me to a local Japanese calligraphy school when I was 6 years old. I studied under the Master Zuiho Sato for 13 years and received notable awards at competitions and exhibitions. When I was 14, I was nominated by the International Calligraphy Association to visit China with a group of Hokkaido calligraphy students and participated in calligraphy exchange sessions with local Chinese students at Palace of Pupils of China. It opened my eyes—I was fascinated by the experience of communicating and connecting through art—beyond any language and cultural barriers.

I came to the U.S. to study abroad with an ambition to bridge cultures through Japanese calligraphy. During my studies, I organized many cultural events, exhibited my works, and performed live calligraphy. I collaborated with musicians, dancers, painters, filmmakers, photographers...and now, that’s what I do professionally, internationally. I love meeting, connecting, and collaborating with people from various cultural backgrounds in various fields using different mediums, sharing the beauty of Japanese calligraphy.

Photo: Aoi Yamaguchi

What inspires you?

Music, nature, seasons, emotions, feelings, light and shadow, fragments of moments that linger. I write my words and poems in my Moleskine notebook whenever I’m inspired to leave traces of those moments. That’s how I find words and concepts to work with for artworks and performances. Since childhood, I’ve been passionate about literature, music, dance and art—what I create and express through Japanese calligraphy comes from everything I love. It’s a lifelong journey of finding myself.

It goes without saying that 2020 has been a pretty universally challenging year—how have you grown through the challenges?

We moved to Los Angeles right before the lockdown, so I had to adjust to a new environment, motherhood, and new way of life in the pandemic. I miss closeness; spending time with friends and family and connecting with others through in-person workshops and performances.

Finding the balance between motherhood and art has been one of my biggest challenges, but practicing my art made me feel whole, even in short windows of time. I realized that I don’t have to separate the two. I try to stay creative with my baby—holding the brush and exploring textures, colors, shapes, and words together. As a mother and an artist, this year taught me to stay strong and positive, both for our everyday and for the world. To simply enjoy where we are, what we have, and what we can create together as a family.

What is your hope for 2021—personally and for society as a whole?

After this dramatic year of 2020, the coming New Year feels like a new light, emerging over the horizon after the long darkness. Embracing its warmth and hopes for a new beginning, I chose the word “暁” (dawn/daybreak) for this project. For 2021, I hope to create more time, space, and opportunities to explore my creativity and expand my horizons in 2021. And I truly hope that we can all stay strong, respect each other, and honor the laws of nature and humanity to get through these difficult times together.

Behind the scenes at Aoi Yamaguchi’s studio

Learn more about Aoi and follow her journey through her website or Instagram.