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Meet Chris Conway, co-curator of “Kokeshi: From Folk Art to Art Toy”


We’re so happy to introduce to you Chris Conway. She’s got a lot on her plate as an illustrator, graphic design consultant, and co-curator of the upcoming Kokeshi exhibit at the Japanese American National Musuem. Many Poketo artists have been invited to participate in the exhibit. Make sure to check it out July 11th at JANM. And say hi to Chris if you see her.


Hi Christina! Please introduce yourself.

You can call me Chris, I use Christina for formal occasions and also it helps distinguish me from the ever-so-popular-but-yet-to-be-heard-by-me musician Chris Conway that comes up on google searches. Originally from Oklahoma I moved to Texas then Nevada and now have been in California (San Diego) for the last 9 years. I grew up surrounded by art, my mom was extremely creative and talented and my father always supported my interest in art. I was very fortunate for this.

How did you start organizing the Kokeshi event?

I was inspired by the custom vinyl toy world and decided there needed to be a more diverse range of artists taking part. I had brought some kokeshi back from a visit to Japan and I thought they were the perfect object to customize. The show in 2007 was a wonderful hit and I was asked by Maria Kwong to work with her on a new kokeshi show for JANM, and I jumped at the chance. As for the details on getting all the artists together, I just contacted all my favorite people and I was fortunate enough to have very positive responses.


What is it about these traditional dolls that fascinates you?

I will admit to being a Nipponophile, most likely caused by a trip to Japan when I was one. Growing up, there were many Japanese images and objects in our house. My father had been stationed there and he really loved the culture and I guess it rubbed off on me. When I visited again in 2005, I knew that I wanted to find a couple kokeshi to bring home. At the time I knew little of their history, but I loved the vast diversity and attention to detail and the importance of who the artists were, especially the “creative kokeshi.” It has been through Maria that I have learned more about “traditional kokeshi” which will be a huge section of the show this year.

[kokeshi by Muhitsu Yokige]

Any interesting kokeshi designs you’ve seen in the past? Favorites or most surprising?

My very favorite kokeshi is one I posted on my blog a long time back. It was so different from the others I had seen and I loved the hidden aspect of the face. Also, I am always excited to see new takes on traditional work. The current customs impress me to no end.

When you’re not co-curating and organizing events like this, where and what can we find you doing?

Despite living in the most idyllic of cities I tend to stay inside and work on freelance design to pay the bills. I enjoy naps way too much and find little time between work and sleeping to get outside. When I finally get outside, I enjoy watching the ocean waves and doing activities that require little sweating, i.e. croquet, walks and or flying kites.


What’s one of the best ideas you’ve had lately that just isn’t fitting into your schedule?

Travel to India and Japan again, not fitting into my budget either. I am hoping to put together the start to a kokeshi book based on the photographs from both custom shows, I am REALLY hoping to fit that into my schedule… in time for Comic-Con, hahahahahaha.

Will you be at our Poketo Karaoke Dance Party? Give us some of your favorite tunes to sing.

Absolutely! And with a gang of artists from the show too, you can’t stop us from being there. IF… IF… IF I can muster the courage (liquid courage) to sing on stage, it will have to be something from Neil Diamond… or “Cecelia” from Simon and Garfunkel would increase my bravery.


For more information on Chris Conway, check out
And for her design work, visit

Thanks Chris! See you soon.

Tagged with: Artists Interviews We like

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