Strategic Partner Spotlight: Divya Marie Kato, Artist & Founder of When In Doubt, Draw

It’s 11:05pm and I’m here writing to you with three days left of 2017. Divya Marie Kato Profile Photo

You’ll be reading this in the future, so first let me wish you a year of simple E.S.P. (more on this later.)

I had lots of ideas about what to write to you when I first got invited – thank you FEW, I’m very grateful! – but right now, it’s December 28th and, after packing up the very first home I shared with my husband a few hours ago, none of that stuff seems important.

Moving proved more emotional than we expected.

Pulling everything out of everywhere and seeing it all jumbled on the floor.  Life laid bare on the carpet.

Memories spilling out of containers to mix with the dust of forgotten places.

That’s the thing about moving.  It always seems so much easier than it is!

Stuff from 20 years ago. Stuff from India. Stuff that time forgot.

Stuff from London. Stuff from France. Stuff that I forgot.

Bicycles, books, jumpers and jam jars, lampshades, letters and mama-knitted sweaters.

And last but not least, the kitchen sponge!  (aka Kato code for the last straw)

I look down at the new keys.

The keys to our new home and first atelier.

And have never felt so hopeful.


Aside from the two days when I was obsessed about being a pilot, I always knew that I wanted to be an artist.

My sketchbooks were constant companions and helped me navigate all kinds of things in my formative years – and, thanks to my rebellious, headstrong parents, there was never a dull moment!  (you can read more about those years, here).

Not knowing how to express myself in words at the time, I sought solace in the blank pages.

A place where I could be who I wanted to be, dream what I wanted to dream and, quite simply, digest.

Fast forward to arriving in Japan twelve years ago, and the dragons I painted in my early years (you can meet them here), and art was still helping me connect with others, with myself and with a new country.

2012, the year of the dragon, presented my next big milestone: leaving full time employment to start my own creative services business.

And now, after six years of tryings and failings and learnings, countless events, workshops and classes, the business that my husband and I continue to build is still a living, breathing testament to our core philosophy:  Art is for everyone.  

Tired of copy and repeat, cookie-cutter courses, I spent the years designing drawing classes that allowed people to see that they really could draw on their own and in their own style. Classes devoted to making discoveries and lifelong learning.

Now an original, creative empowerment programme that involves our whole family, When In Doubt, Draw, is everything we dreamed it could be.  And still growing!

Having our own atelier is the next, big step for us and we’re beyond grateful to walk through that door and see what we can make happen in 2018.

If last year was the year of preparation, 2017 has been the year of invitation and the next, the year of running with it.

It’s also the year of the dog, and so, listening to the gentle, contented snoring of my new, four legged friends, Doris and Lucy, let me finish by coming back to that E.S.P I wished you earlier:  




Because what I’ve come to learn, most of all this year, is that it’s all so much simpler when we pay more attention to these three things.


You can find out more about Divya’s creative empowerment programme, When In Doubt, Draw, here with 20% off the course for FEW members.


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