Support Series — Haruko Hayakawa

Haruko Hayakawa

Meet Haruko (she/her)

A first-generation Japanese-American CG Artist and Creative Director based out of Brooklyn. Her work is mostly driven by two themes: nostalgia and her modern-day struggles, whether that’s around her Japanese-American identity, womanhood, or finding the beauty in the mundanity of her everyday life. She took some time to share with us her work and what Support means to her.

As a BIPOC creative, what does “support” mean to you?

Support means being fully present and listening. I believe that’s the very best gift anyone can give. Support for me is also a community of people who understand the ups and downs of life and wanting the best for you. They are my safe space for encouragement, constructive feedback, and friendship.

Who has supported you and why was it meaningful?

My friends. Through thick and thin and the most difficult times in my life. I am so grateful for my tight-knit group of friends who have allowed me to be vulnerable and talk about the hard parts of life and work without judgment. They are my cheerleaders who can be brutally honest with me if needed.

What is a big challenge being a BIPOC creative in your industry?

My biggest challenge has been imposter syndrome. I was raised in a strict Japanese American home where the expectation was that I had to be exceptional. It’s an extreme way of thinking brought on by generational trauma and while it has helped me push boundaries, it has cultivated all or nothing thinking. Through coaching and therapy over the past decade of my life, I see my life work as a journey that I will figure out as I go - it’s about progress, not perfection.

Any words of advice or encouragement to BIPOC creatives just starting out?

Dive in and think less and do more. Your mindset will determine how far you go and the ease at which you adapt to new situations. Be a ‘sponge’ - ask questions, ask for help, reach out to those who inspire you, and consistently practice your craft. Focus on how you can make progress even in the smallest ways. It’s the consistency of showing up and having an open and growth focus mindset compounded over time that creates real expertise and skill.

What is your cultural heritage and how has it influenced your work?

It’s not always obvious but Japanese art heavily influences a majority of my work, whether that’s the straight-on angle/perspective, usage of props, or symbols. I’m also heavily inspired by Japanese woodblock prints. Some of that can be seen in the composition I use and the usage of gradient backgrounds on some of my pieces.

Why is DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) important to you and your industry?

I think myself and the younger generation need to see a wider range of people in positions of leadership so they can see that for themselves. It’s important to me to grow and support BIPOC creatives so that we can create a space in the industry for our voices to be seen and heard. I want to help build a world in the creative industry with more inclusiveness and understanding for the generations to come.

Why are telling BIPOC stories important to you?

I grew up in a time when Asians were not present in entertainment. I did not have role models or celebrities who looked like me. I grew up feeling like I wasn’t Japanese enough and not American enough. It’s important for me to be a role model to younger BIPOC creatives and tell stories that are relatable to them. I believe it’s beautiful to come from two cultures and it’s painful to try to live a life being anything but yourself.


Haruko Hayakawa

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