Otaku USA Magazine
INTERVIEW: A Chat with the Folks at pixiv About Drawfest4

Drawfest4, brought to us by pixiv and Wacom, will begin June 10 with Study Day from 9:00 AM to 2:30 PM JST, and then come back again for Feedback Day on June 17 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM JST. This livestreaming event, which is for people around the world, will include presentations by KawaiiSensei, OMOCAT and Ogipote. Ahead of all this Otaku USA spoke with Reina Hamayoshi, pixiv’s Senior Management of International Marketing and Branding Team Takahiko Kato, pixiv’s Vice President of Creator’s Platform Department, to learn more.

How did Drawfest come about, and what’s special and new about the upcoming Drawfest4?

Reina Hamayoshi: Back in 2021, when we first launched Drawfest, we realized there was a missing opportunity in Japan for a large-scale, free public online workshop catering to creators of all levels from around the world. Pixiv, being a platform where creators from diverse backgrounds come together, made us recognize the need to bridge the gap and connect with creators who hadn’t been reached before. That’s when we teamed up with Wacom, a global supporter of creators’ endeavors, to bring this event to life. And now, we’re excited to announce that this will be our fourth edition!

Up until now, the event has been conducted in both Japanese and English. However, in our ongoing efforts to engage more participants from various regions, Drawfest4 will be held with supplementary audio support in Chinese and Korean as well.

We understand that there are many individuals out there who either don’t know where to begin when it comes to creating art or have artworks they haven’t shared with the world. That’s why, in conjunction with Drawfest4, we’re introducing the pixiv submission project which will provide templates for line drawings and coloring pictures, making it easier for everyone to overcome the initial hurdles and create their own artwork. We believe in empowering aspiring artists and encouraging them to showcase their talent.

What do you hope to accomplish with Drawfest4?

RH: Let’s break it down. First, we’re all about bridging language barriers and fostering an exchange of works among creators through YouTube Live chat and pixiv submissions. It’s a global community of creativity coming together.

Next, Drawfest creates opportunities to connect with both featured speakers and showcased artists. It’s a chance to meet new creators and get inspired by their work.

We also prioritize skill improvement through insightful lectures and aim to encourage more people to create and share their artwork. Our submission project makes it easier for everyone to participate.

Lastly, Drawfest aims to introduce pixiv to creators who haven’t encountered it before. We want to spark their interest and expand our creative family.

How did you both get involved working with pixiv, and how have you seen the company grow since then?

Takahiko Kato: What drew me to pixiv was its unique stature as the only web service from Japan with global appeal. I saw potential in developing a business model that tapped into its customer base, with the goal of enhancing the professional abilities of creators. It’s been mind-blowing to see the growth and expansion of the creator economy. In the wake of YouTube, Spotify, and pixiv, it’s clear that personal talent can make a mark worldwide. We’re witnessing an upsurge in mixed media content, with videos interwoven with music and illustrations, and a flood of equally inventive content. And right in the midst of it, pixiv is driving this creative boom, which is truly inspiring to see.

RH: I joined pixiv because I had a close relationship with the founder and saw it as an environment that allowed for autonomy and exciting challenges. Over the past 15 years, pixiv has transformed from a predominantly Japanese user base to a global service, with about 60% of users coming from overseas. The platform has expanded in terms of users, features, collaborations, and international events. It has been an incredible journey, and I consider pixiv as dear to me as my own child.

Do you have any other events coming up in the future you can share?

RH: In July 2023, we will be holding a special signing event to commemorate the early release of ‘Artists in the Americas,’ published by Pie International. The events will take place in select Kinokuniya bookstores in the US, with a special guest attending each event.

June 30th (Friday): Kinokuniya Bookstore – Santa Anita
400 S Baldwin Ave E17, Arcadia, CA 91007

July 7th (Friday): Kinokuniya Bookstore – New York
1073 6th Ave, New York, NY 10018

July 4th (Tuesday): Kinokuniya Bookstore – Seattle
525 S Weller St, Seattle, WA 98104

In addition, although the details are not yet disclosed, we are planning collaborative exhibitions with popular artworks at Anime Expo 2023 and an Artist Alley exhibition. We will provide further updates and details through pixiv’s Twitter account (@pixiv_en), so be sure to follow us for more information.

Is there anything else you’d like North American fans to know about pixiv and Drawfest?

RH: pixiv welcomes all types of artwork, including illustrations, comics, and novels. Every day, 20,000 creations from artists in 230 countries and regions (92% of the world) are shared on our platform.

Here are some tips for being on pixiv:

● Share your illustrations, manga, and novels with a community of over 90 million members. Display your work, promote it, and connect with fellow creators.

● Discover artwork you love by using tags. Tags make it easier for others to find your work. Search using tags related to your favorite anime or games, bookmark the pieces you enjoy, and create a collection of your personal favorites.

● Connect with new fans. Likes and comments from fans energize creators in their creative pursuits. You can even utilize the “Request” feature to accept paid requests from fans.

● Participate in contests and open doors to professional opportunities. We organize approximately 80 contests each year in collaboration with various companies. Submitting your work and participating in these contests can lead to potential job opportunities.

Join us and explore the vibrant world of pixiv. Why not pick up a pen and dive into the world of creativity through Drawfest?


Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.