Kim Frank Fujiwara was born and raised on the northwest side of Detroit, Michigan. By first grade he was already in advanced art classes mentored by his art teacher. He was known as “the kid who draws.” He says his influences were Marvel comic books, Monster movies, psychedelic rock posters, Creepy and Mad magazines. He did hallway art and special assignments for grade school and high school. He took second place in the state for the American Legion Poppy Poster contest in the 11th grade. He was determined to make art as a career and in 1975 he enrolled at the prestigious art school Center for Creative Studies/College of Art and Design (CCS) in Detroit. Some influences and inspirations during this time were American artists, Bernie Fuchs, David Grove, Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, Bob Peak, Gil Elvgren, Frank Frazetta, and French Impressionism. After graduating CCS in 1979, Kim worked at major art studios around the Detroit area and by the mid 80’s he was an instructor at CCS for 5 years teaching Illustration, Figure Illustration, and Illustration Techniques. In 1992, Kim started his own studio, Fujiwara Art, Inc.
Kim’s artwork and portraits have appeared on national ads, book covers, editorials, magazine covers, CD covers, posters, brochures, billboards, annual reports, point-of-purchase, and children’s books. Several of his portraits have decorated the walls at the prestigious Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills and more recent works include over 30 portrait montages for Ford Motor Company’s NADA awards which can be viewed at world headquarters in Dearborn. Portraits of celebrities have included, Arnold Palmer, Isiah Thomas, Jack Nicholas, Henry Ford, George Kell, Ben Wright, Al Unser Jr., Hillary Clinton for the Washington Post, and a limited-edition print of Shaquille O’Neal. In 2003 Kim created a series of limited wine labels of Michigan for Cherry Creek Cellars. His work appears in several Native American children’s books including; Carlos Montezuma, Ishi, also Science Adventures/ Whales, and Italian Portraits. He has recently completed another children’s book, “My Name is Leona.” In September 2013 "My Name is Leona' was awarded Gold Medal from Mom's Choice Awards.
In 2009, after the demise of illustrations in print collateral, economy, and computer generated images, Kim reinvented his passion to strictly fine art. Kim decided to stay with what he is most known for, figures and portraits. With the support of his wife, he began to create two series of oil paintings, The American West and La Belle Femme (The Beautiful Woman).
The art of Fujiwara has garnered several Gold and Silver Awards at the Annual Scarab Club Advertising Exhibits held in Detroit, honorable mention at Padzieski gallery in Dearborn, merit on Portfolio.com first on-line art show, a red ribbon at Birmingham’s “Our Town” exhibit, and a gallery spot on ovationtv.com. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, Kim was a top 5 finalist in the MI Great Artist Contest to include a solo show. Also in 2013 and 2014, he received First Place award at Village Fine Arts Association's Views/Huron Valley Council for the Arts.
Kim continues to work on his fine art series out of his home studio/gallery in Rochester Hills and accepts commissioned art and portrait work as well.
You may visit studio Mon -Sat 10:00 AM - 2:30 PM
(by appointment only)
"A painted portrait is the joining of two souls, the subject and the artist."~kf
"As a kid I remember the enjoyment of seeing Hollywood stars in Bugs Bunny cartoons, like Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra. I would also enjoy the movie caricatures in Mad Magazine illustrated by Mort Drucker. This would inspire me to understand the subtle differences in faces of celebrities. I remember doing pencil sketches of Hollywood stars by memory, like Humphrey Bogart, Christopher Lee as Dracula, Boris Karloff, Richard M. Nixon, Elvis Presley, and Clint Eastwood. I recall being fascinated watching The Watergate Hearings on the television. Everyday after school, I would sit right in front of the T.V. and sketch portraits of John Dean, John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman, and John Mitchell."
“At my first job, I was a 16-year-old busboy at a Chinese restaurant and when it was slow at work, I would do pencil portraits of the waitresses. My first portrait commission came from a customer who saw my portraits and asked me to do one of him and his wife from a not-so-good photograph for thirty dollars. It was also my first experience of a client, who after a few rounds of changes and critiques finally accepted it and paid cash. I realized during the process of rendering a portrait, I have absorbed the person’s personality, soul and spirit, even if sometimes I never meet them. It‘s always a great pleasure and emotional experience to hear and see
the reactions from the client.”
On The American West:
Kim Fujiwara’s inspiration of The West actually started in 1990 after being commissioned to illustrate four children’s books for Raintree Steck-Vaughn publishers. Two of the books were titled, “Carlos Montezuma and Ishi”, both Native American biographies. His research took him to several libraries to aquire picture reference so he could do preliminary sketches. All pencil sketches were to be approved by a Smithsonian associate who worked with the publisher on historical subjects. After the books were published, Kim was told by friends who lived out West said they saw the books in many stores. Hollywood even made a movie about Ishi; “The Last of His Tribe” starring John Voight and Graham Greene. Kim and his wife, Terri took a vacation to Scottsdale, Arizona. where he visited the Heard Museum, Sedona, Jerome, Prescott, Tuscon and many art galleries. Several trips back to Arizona also lured him into Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
By 2009, after the demise of Detroit’s auto biz outsourcing in advertising and marketing collateral, and the influx of digital imaging, Kim reinvented his passion from advertising and editorial illustrator to Fine Artist. With the support of his wife, he began to create a series of oil paintings depicting The American West.
“The American West series offers an open range of subjects from cowboys, cowgirls, Native Americans to horses, guns, wardrobe, beautiful landscapes, gorgeous national parks and the colors of the skies. As a figure and portrait painter, The West has everything you need to fuel the soul and utilize my skills at the same time.”
On La Belle Femme:
"There's nothing more beautiful than a beautiful woman." ~ kf
“My Muse: During the late 1930’s, My Mom use to be a dancer at a top night club in San Francisco (Andy Wong‘s Skyroom with The Wongettes) and later years a Detroit model. She once said, ‘I paint a face everyday.’ She was referring to her time spent doing her makeup before going to work as a hostess at Chin Tiki restaurant in Detroit or doing a modeling session. I would watch as she would put on her base color, eyebrows, eyelashes, lips, hair piece and even enhance her mole. On her dresser where she did her makeup was also a charcoal portrait of her. She said some artist did that of her back in California. I would simultaneously stare at the portrait and watch her as she did her makeup. I would also watch old movies and musicals with her and enjoy her comments and reasons why the actresses were so beautiful."
"When I was in high school I did a large pencil drawing of Marilyn Monroe similar to one shown here. From then on, whenever I am doodling on a cocktail napkin or a piece of paper, it would be a woman’s face. When I see a beautiful woman, I always imagine what a great painting she would be."
“La Belle Femme is a variety of women doing different things in different settings. This is a wide open never-ending approach for me in creating romantic images with casting the right model for the next painting.”
Member - Oil Painters of America, American Impressionist Society