RESIDES: Los Angeles
EDUCATION: Sonoma State University
CLIEN TS: Fortune, Fast Company, McCann N Y, Nestlé Waters,
Parents, Paul Frank Industries
KEy ADvICE: “To be yourself. My father always told me: Find one
thing that you love and practice until no one else is better than you.”
ALL FIVE PHOTOS © MEIKO TAKECHI ARQUILLOS
It has not been easy for Meiko Takechi
Arquillos to blaze her own path, but she’s
done just that since she was 16 years old.
She’s maintained a persistent commitment
to her esthetic, defined by her affinity
for colorful, graphic compositions and a
sense of humor that toes the line between
sincere and cynical. Drawing inspiration
from graphic design and her upbringing in
Tokyo, she’s created portrait, fashion and
kid photography for clients like Paul Frank
Industries, McCann NY and Fortune.
Arquillos moved to the U.S. for
high school and, after graduating from
college, where she was introduced to
photography, she took a course with Todd Hido at California
College of the Arts. Hido encouraged her to jump into assisting.
She began calling photographers looking for work, admitting “she
didn’t know anything.”
She assisted one photographer full time, and later ran another’s
studio. “You get to see the whole package,” she says of assisting.
Both of the photographers encouraged her to shoot and critiqued
her work, and after six years assisting, she set out on her own.
As she showed her book, she received positive feedback from
potential clients, and from rep Maren Levinson, who encouraged
Arquillos and later took her on. Initially the positive reactions
didn’t translate into jobs, and at times the lack of work was
“heartbreaking,” she says. She was tempted to create work that
might be “easier to digest,” but Levinson told her: “stick to your own
thing,” Arquillos recalls. Encouragement from her husband also
helped her to follow her vision.
Her persistence has paid off in the form of editorial work and
commercial jobs on which she’s been asked to contribute to creative
direction. Last summer she worked for McCann N Y on a project for
Nestlé Waters. “It was a really amazing experience because the art
director and the art buyer invited me into their creative process,
and I was there talking about every step of the shoot,” Arquillos
says. “It’s amazing to have 20 people coming up to me asking me [for
input and direction].”