Through his work, 12-year-old illustrator Miracle-kun wants to convey a happy world

Okinawan-born artist and illustrator Miracle-kun is holding his first pop-up and exhibition in Tokyo, “Everybody gonna be Happy!!” at Shibuya PARCO. The event will run until March 21st.

Miracle-kun is an elementary school student who just turned 12 in March. The youngest artist in the history of the Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum to have an exhibition, his professional-quality illustration work has been gaining attention. Word of his cute, humorous work even reached professional soccer player Keisuke Honda, who fell in love with the illustrations and brought Miracle-kun onto his YouTube channel for a conversation.

In addition to the animal and sports series previously released by Miracle-kun, the current exhibition is also selling a new Okinawa series printed on apparel and goods. To celebrate the opening of the exhibition, TOKION asked the still youthful, energetic Miracle-kun, along with his father, art director Hideki Shiroma, about how Miracle-kun became an artist, what kind of thinking goes into his work, and his personal life.

Miracle-kun’s career as an illustrator started
when he drew a character from his favorite manga

――First, why is your artist name Miracle-kun?

Miracle-kun: My dad gave me that name!

Hideki Shiroma (Hereinafter Dad): I wasn’t intending for him to become an artist at first. His name comes from the fact that Gon-chan [Miracle-kun] makes our family laugh at least once every day. He makes miracles happen when he makes us smile, so I decided to call him “miracle child.”

――What do your friends at school call you?

Miracle-kun: Most people call me Gon-kun. Also, I’ve been called “Kabigon,” [Snorlax] the character from Pokémon.

――You look like Snorlax when you smile. (laughs) So, how did you get into drawing?

Miracle-kun: It started with a picture I drew of Vegeta when I was nine. I loved “Dragon Ball,” so I drew it while looking at a card from my collection. When I showed the drawing to my dad, he was like, “This is really funny!”, and so I started drawing all kinds of stuff.

Dad: Vegeta looked like a crook. (laughs) I thought that was really funny, and I got a huge response when I uploaded it to social media. That’s how he started drawing.

I give him a little advice, but I don’t teach him anything technical. So Miracle-kun isn’t very good at complex compositions with a lot of people interacting or pictures with a lot of information. I teach him to draw with all his heart. It’s about the heart.

――So a portrait of Vegeta led you to start drawing, and then what kind of stuff did you draw from there?

Miracle-kun: I started drawing athletes for a solo exhibition, and the first thing I drew for that was basketball players.

Dad: He started challenging himself when he was nine to make works in series because he wanted to try having exhibitions. The Olympics were coming up at the time, so he started out with a sports series. Because if he was going to draw something, he decided that he had to make the subject something that everyone is familiar with.

Miracle-kun: Oh yeah, and when I drew Muay Thai fighters, my dad and I laughed together a lot. I drew something so funny that it made me laugh even while drawing it!

――I want to ask you about the illustration series. Could you tell me more about the sneaker and sushi series?

Dad: I saw Miracle-kun drawing the indoor shoes he wears at school, and it was a really well-drawn and interesting work, so he decided to try a sneaker series. Regarding the sushi series, I thought it’d be great if he could have an exhibition abroad. If that happens, I want to be able to show a Japanese theme, so I requested sushi, which is also his favorite food.

――Recently, you started a 12-year project with a local Okinawan sake brewery, Chuko Distillery.

Dad: It’s a project that started in 2021, but once a year, for a total of twelve years, we’ll present a work related to the zodiac sign of that year. This year was the Year of the Ox, which is also Miracle-kun’s sign, so he’ll continue with 11 more pieces until he’s 24 years old.

Using printer paper and magic marker

――Do you like drawing?

Miracle-kun: Yeah! It’s so fun!

――How do you draw?

Miracle-kun: I get some printer paper out, and then I draw with a Mackee [Japanese marker brand] marker while looking at a picture.

――You don’t make a rough sketch first? Also, do you use markers with different thicknesses?

Miracle-kun: I don’t make rough sketches. I use one Mackee marker and draw everything at once. But this year, I want to draw even the more detailed bits, so I switched from thick markers to thinner ones.

――When do you draw and how much do you draw?

Miracle-kun: I’m usually busy with homework, so I draw on my days off. One picture takes me around three to five minutes. When I draw, I draw around six or seven pieces. And I draw maybe four or five versions of one piece. From there, I choose the one I like and color it in.

――Your work uses energizing colors that have a charming pop feel. How do you decide on the color scheme?

Miracle-kun: I color it in using my imagination.

Dad: It seems like he colors it in using his intuition or feelings at the time. He colors it in using Illustrator, which is done on a computer by scanning his marker drawing. For example, he colored in the mongoose without looking at a picture. He just went with his gut. It’s a really freestyle process with a color scheme I wouldn’t think of. That freeness is nice, isn’t it?

――Do you have anything that’s important to you when you draw?

MIracle-kun:あります! 心を込めて描くこと。集中して描くこと。そして、よく見て描くこと。この3つを大切にしています。
Miracle-kun: I have something! To draw with my whole heart. To draw with focus. And, to draw while looking carefully. Those three things are important to me.

Miracle-kun’s dream is to become an illustrator and pro gamer

――Is there anything you like besides drawing?

Miracle-kun: Gaming. My dream is to become an illustrator and a pro gamer!

――A pro gamer! What games do you like?

Miracle-kun: I like Nintendo games and shooting games. But my favorite game is Fortnite.

Dad: He especially seems to like Fortnite. He made an original cell phone case, and on the case, he drew a family with the characters from Fortnite.

――So, do you have any rivals?

Miracle-kun: Yeah, Kokoro-kun [Japanese child actor Kokoro Terada]! Because we’re the same age!

Dad: (laughs) Yeah, when he appears on TV, Miracle-kun says, “Rival! Rival!” Not that they’re friends or anything. (laughs) I think he sees him as a rival because they’re the same age, but Kokoro is more famous.

――You had a conversation with soccer player Keisuke Honda on his YouTube channel. What’s the story behind that?

Dad: There’s a cellphone case brand that Miracle-kun collaborates with, and that brand has a contract with Keisuke Honda as well. So that’s how Honda found out about Miracle-kun, and he liked his work, so they decided to have a conversation.

――How was it meeting him? Were you nervous?

Miracle-kun: I thought, this is the guy from the Pepsi commercial! I was told he was a soccer player later. I wasn’t nervous. He was really nice.

――You celebrated your 12th birthday the other day. Are there any new challenges you want to take on in the future?

Miracle-kun: I love videogames, so I want to try drawing a game console series. Also, I’m going to be a middle schooler, so I want to walk to school. Because up until now, my dad’s been driving me to school.

――Lastly, what do you want people to feel when they see your work?

Miracle-kun: I want as many people as possible to become happy!

Miracle-kun is an artist and illustrator born in Okinawa in 2009. He is the youngest of 3 siblings and has two older sisters. He started drawing with his older sister at a young age and began his career as an illustrator at age nine. His work has attracted attention through exhibitions and social media, and has been featured on a variety of media including TV, newspaper, and online news media. He has worked on a wide range of projects including tour merchandise for the musician BEGIN, collaborations with apparel brands, and new product packaging for Okinawan specialty product, Okiham.

■Miracle-kun Pop Up & Exhibition「Everybody gonna be Happy!!」
Date: 〜 March 21st
Venue: Tokyo Shibuya PARCO 5F
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya-ku Udagawacho 15-1
Time: 11:00 ~ 20:00

Photography Shinpo Kimura
Translation Aya Apton

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Shuichi Aizawa

Born in Miyagi Prefecture. After editor of street culture magazine and catalogs, he joined INFAS Publications in 2018. After working in the editorial department of “STUDIO VOICE”, he currently belongs to the “TOKION” editorial dept. Currently, He enjoys parenting.