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Tori Kirihara (Image: Nam Nice / <a href="https://www.instagram.com/namnice.jpg/" target="_blank">@namnice.jpg</a>)
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Artist of the Week: Tori Kirihara

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at hello@seattlerefined.com. And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with other mediums?
Tori Kirihara: I have been creating art since I was a child. I was always involved in some art program or class. I mainly work with acrylic, but definitely have worked with other mediums. I do sometimes prefer sketching or drawing with pencil and pen.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
My creative process changes. But some things that are always consistent are, I have to be in the right mood to paint — it can be a good, bad or sad mood — if I am in the headspace to create, I will. Second, I always have to start any art session off with some good tunes.

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art come from?
One of the biggest inspirations for my art is people—family, friends, people that I admire, etc. I love painting people. Also, I have been just getting inspired to paint my emotions. If I am going through something, I will express it not through words, but on canvas or paper.

Do you have a specific "beat" you like best – nature, food, profiles, etc.?
People! Portraits are kind of my thang. But lately, I have been getting into more of an abstract/cartoon mood with my portraits. They are not as realistic as I am used to doing.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
There is this one painting I did at the end of last year. It's a self-portrait. I love the composition of it and the colors. It is currently hanging on its own wall in my apartment right now.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
I had a really rough time after I graduated college. I was extremely lost and confused at what exactly it was that I was going to be doing for a career. I turned to art because it was the only thing making me feel happy at the time, and it was definitely helping me heal with some of the trauma I had experienced while living in LA.

If we want to see more of your work, where should we go to find it?
My Instagram page is my most up to date. I post a lot of my work there.

What is next for you? Anything you're working on right now that you're really excited about?
My business partner and I are currently working on a new series for The Feels. We are going to be highlighting a bunch of Black artists in the Seattle area and also starting some online programming for the kids. We will drop more details soon, but it's going to be in place of our regular programming we had before COVID hit.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? (We ask everyone!)
If it's good coffee, black is fine. Although, I really have been enjoying my oat milk lattes though for a while now.

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