Yuka Butter｜Illustrator is the name of one of our favourite profiles on Instagram! Therefore, we asked Yuka whether we could interview here and not only did she say “hai”, she also made a beautiful drawing especially for Japan Fans to support our dream of a Japanese Cultural Centre Utrecht. Thank you so much, Yuka!
Could you share the inspiration behind starting Butter Shop and becoming a designer?
I like to draw, and I’ve been posting illustrations on Instagram for a long time. I opened Butter Shop because many people told me that my illustrations were nice, and I wanted to open a shop that sells products that I designed myself.
How did your passion for illustration and design evolve into creating products like washi tapes and postcards?
I thought that by incorporating the illustrations into the product, my followers would be able to enjoy my illustrations more in their lives.
What has been the most rewarding feedback or experience you’ve received from your customers so far?
I received a voice saying, “Thank you so much for making such a lovely items”. This is the most memorable words from our customers.
Moving from Japan to the Netherlands must have been quite a journey. How did this relocation influence your work and the shop’s vision?
I had to close Butter Shop, which was mainly making sales in Japan, and open it in the Netherlands, but the hardest impact was that I had to start from scratch again because no one in the Netherlands knew what I was doing.
What challenges did you face while temporarily closing and reopening Butter Shop in a new country? How did you overcome them?
Now that I am based in the Netherlands, I cannot deliver to customers in Japan with the same shipping charges as before. I feel that it is necessary to increase the number of products in the future so that customers can easily reach the free shipping line. Also, at first there were no people in the Netherlands or Europe who knew about me so I am gradually expanding my name by asking other shops to cooperate to sell my products.
Could you elaborate on the significance of the name “Butter Shop” and how it relates to your brand and products?
My pen name is Yuka Butter, but at first I wanted to just use “Yuka”. But there are many illustrators named Yuka, so I thought I had to come up with a different name for people to remember me by, and the word “Butter” just happened to come to mind. Butter Shop is related to my pen name, and I thought it would be easy to remember. Like butter blends into many foods and makes them more appealing, I hope the products of Butter Shop will do the same.
Your mission is to make people’s lives a little bit better through your products. How do you ensure your designs achieve this goal?
I believe it is important to create products that customers want. I also think that I need to make sure that I present a clear picture and text of the kind of life that can be obtained by owning Butter Shop products.
How do you approach the design process for your products? What elements or themes are important to you?
I love the English word “Cozy”, and it is important to me that Butter Shop products have a cozy design.
I value the cozy atmosphere that people feel when they take a quick look at our products.
What are your favorite items to design, and do you have any new and exciting products in the pipeline?
Washi stickers are very fun to design because they are items that match my drawings. I would like to create tote bags, pen cases, and other items that can be used more on a daily basis. In addition to analog products, I would also like to create digital products that are accessible to a wider audience, such as wallpaper for smartphones and PCs.
As an illustrator, how do you strike a balance between creating unique designs and catering to your customers’ preferences?
Actually, after I came to the Netherlands, I was very confused because the designs of stickers and stationery that people like are totally different from those in Japan.
At first, I was very worried whether people here would like my drawings, which Japanese people said were cute.
However, one thing that surprised me was that there are so many people who like stationery are interested in Japanese stationery, Japan, and the Japanese language. Even on SNS, I really see people using Japanese products. I would like to increase the number of designs that I can do as a Japanese, while not too much changing my drawing style so far, but still incorporating patterns that give a sense of Japan.
What do you find most rewarding about being a shop owner and designer in the Netherlands?
It is very rewarding for me to make more people aware of the Butter Shop and to have them use my products in their daily lives. Coming to the Netherlands has been a very valuable experience for me, as I have been able to introduce Butter Shop to people I had never met before.
Do you have any advice for aspiring designers or entrepreneurs who want to start their own creative business?
Since Butter Shop is still a small store, I don’t have any advice for others, but I would like to tell them that running a store in a foreign country is a great way to learn more than you can imagine, and that it will definitely be an important experience for you even if the business does not go well.
The image below wa especially made for Japan Fans. As Yuka writes: “These are my new illustrations for your site, it’s much different from my usual style, but I draw this as I see many people on your web site love authentic Japan style. Hope you like it!” We love it and will print it on stickers for our Study Group!