Misao Noya works in a variety of different media, producing stock images and illustrations of an unusually delicate beauty. Is it because she’s from Japan? Is it because she’s a woman? Is it because she’s a Japanese Woman? We asked her…

Fotolia: Can you tell us a little about yourself – what you specialize in, your career, and how you got here?

Ms. Misao NoyaMisao Noya: I’m working in editorial designing, web designing, and advertising as a freelance graphic designer. My artistic activities are done using acrylic paint, water color paint, pen sketches, mixed media, and paper craft, and I exhibit my work in galleries regularly.

My specialty is the use of neutral colors. I used to teach graphic design using computers in college and professional schools. After that, I started to work as a graphic designer, as an individual artist, and holding exhibitions for my own artwork. More recently, I like using stock photos to make digital designs and illustrations, but I also work on my own artistic activities.

Fo: What were the influencing factors that made you decide to work in the stock industry?

MN: I had a change my lifestyle and was given the chance to go to overseas for long period, so it was a little bit inconvenient to visit my clients office! At that time I discovered the stock photo field, and I thought it’d be wonderful if I could make the content I enjoy as a designer, and design freely without restraint.

Fo: Do you think the stock image industry gives you a certain level of personal flexibility you may not have been able to get in other professions? If so, how has it affected you?

gold frame set

MN: I think this industry gives me and women like me a very high degree of flexibility. Of course, I need to create image that meet the demands of the image buyer and end consumer.

However, it is fun to challenge the possibilities of expression without any restrictions, and to see the results of my work. It motivates me for my next work.

Fo: What are your most popular and best-selling images from your Fotolia portfolio? Why do you think this is?

MN: My most popular images are Ribbon emblem set and gold frame set.

ribbon emblem set

These images are very useful for mail magazines which need designs immediately.

Actually, I’ve seen my images on many mail magazines which I receive. There are certain sales for the series of images I made using plants as a background, such as Cherry blossom flowers background. Images like these are popular because they involve very neutral colors, and are quite uniquely Japanese, I think.

Fo: Can you describe some of the steps you took to get where you are now in your career?

MN: It’s nothing special, but when I first started stock photo work I had to leave the city for one year. That was a really hard time. I had to stop working in editorial design and advertising because I could no longer meet with clients in the city.

During that time, I created lots of designs and illustrations to use as stock images. I uploaded 50 to 100 illustrations in one month, and then my sales and earnings were really climbing. Now I don’t upload new images, but those images I created at that time are still popular today. It helps me a lot that if you’ve worked really hard and get good wave of sales, you can rely on stable sales.

Fo: What is your favorite subject to work on? Do you still enjoy illustration as a hobby or is it purely a career now?

MN: My favorite subjects are natural things, such as flowers and leaves. Digital illustration work is a big part of my career. However, my artistic activities, exploring my own personal expression, is hard – but I really enjoy it!

Fo: Are you seeing any themes that are becoming more popular because of developments in women’s consumer behavior?

MN: I can see some women’s themes, such as beauty, fitness, and relaxation, have become very popular. More recently, I think the most popular theme has been that of the female image which shows an inner strength.

Fo: Since you started working in the stock industry what trends have you seen come and go? What do you think will be popular next year?

MN: World trends and Japanese trends are different - Japanese trends have their own originality, and don’t really link with the world. There was an increase in demand for sports when worldwide sports events occur, such as the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. And seasonally, events like Easter and Christmas repeat their themes every year.

I think the theme people should be aware of next year is the environment.

Fo: Thank you so much for your time, Misao!

You can see (and buy!) more of Misao’s beautiful illustrations and images on her Fotolia portfolio.