Yami Kawaii, Yume Kawaii --What is What?
During the earlier days of me navigating the t-shirt design business (and I am still navigating my way), I stumbled across the yami kawaii subculture. I was familiar with kawaii--growing up a 4th generation Japanese American, I grew up watching Japanese tv shows that were broadcasted on weekends like Candy Candy, Robicon, Kikaida, Lion Maru, and Go Ranger (which is now the familiar Power Rangers). Before Hello Kitty became a huge, global brand, I was familiar with Sanrio products--pencil cases, scented erasers, and pencils and for awhile carried all my pens and pencils in these vinyl covered cases with a cute anime girl on the front. These cases sometimes had cute little hidden compartments to put God knows what in it--they were so small. But I was fascinated by the pretty anime girl with huge, sparkly eyes and impossibly beautiful hair with impeccable curls, decorated by huge ribbons and bows. The aesthetics haven't changed much since then.
I stumbled upon yami kawaii aesthetics when doing my usual online research. Photos of pretty kawaii girls with a little dark twist of bandages and makeup to look like they've been beaten within an inch of their life with bruises and blackeyes in bright pink colors, medical syringes worn as jewelry and pins, pastel bandaids placed carefully over the bridge of the nose, bloody noses, bloody knees--this fascinated me. I always had a taste of things with a twist. To me, this is sweetness and cuteness overload with a twist of dark. I love that.
And so began my yami kawaii journey. I do enjoy creating all kinds of art styles--it really depends on my current mood. I try to to create art, no matter the style, with a twist just to make it interesting to me. It's how I entertain myself. I create art to communicate how I'm feeling. I'm hoping my art is something that my customers use to present as an extension of themselves--which is precisely what yami kawaii does. In Japan, the eye patches, faux slit wrists and cuts, is a way break down mental health taboos-- to communicate how a person is feeling that they would unable to speak out. It's a much better thing to fake it than to actually hurt oneself. That is not my intention at all and hopefully, not the intentions of my customers. Yami kawaii makeup is to make the wearer look sick but not gross. Red or pink under the eyes are sometimes worn with a pastel colored bandaid across the nose to complete the aesthetic look.
Yume kawaii is the gentle, dreamy cute side of kawaii. It is the light aesthetic. I pretty much see it was kawaii--bows, ribbons, cute stars and florals. The opposite of what yami kawaii is. Lots of pastels are used but can be accented with darker colors like black. Slightly offsetting imagery can be used like eyeballs and the use of the word "sick". Pretty much yami kawaii lite.