Finally got to visit the Ghibli Museum today!!! Also realised that it has been exactly 1 year since I set off travelling. Huge thankyou to everyone I've met along the way for making them some of the best 12 months of my life so far
Been having a lot of fun sketching musicians around Hong Kong. Thanks to Hypergal for the photo...
Have to leave Japan tomorrow :(
I've been staying in Nakano, Tokyo the last few months and I come to this cafe/bar a few nights each week to do some work. To get to the bar you have to navigate the corridors of Nakano Broadway, a shopping mall densly packed with dozens of small shops selling rare artbooks and anime collectables. Each time i would visit i would pass by litrally everything that excited and inspired me as a kid.
I discovered Nakano Broadway when I learned Kim Jung Gi would be doing 4 days of Live drawing demos to promote his solo gallery show. The first day was packed and Kim announced that Terada would be joining him for the live drawing (see blog post below). After that it was quiet but i came by each day to watch the master draw. Sometimes it would just be me there sitting quietly and watching him steadily expand across the canvas.
I mention it here because the bar is close to the drawing venue and the drawing Kim and Terada did together is now a permenant addition there. They have this huge wooden desk that I usually have to myself when I go there to work. I can spread out there (a rarity in Japan) and usually set up my laptop so I am sitting directly opposite the framed drawing on the wall. Its inspiring to look at but mostly I just enjoy the memory attached to it.
While, as I mentioned, I usually have the bar pretty much to myself, sometimes other artists drop by. I was sitting at the desk one day, when James Jean came and sat down at the other end chatting with a couple of guys who seemed to be helping him organise his solo show there. He had been upstairs painting. I felt very lucky getting to ask him a bit about his process and even got to see him working on an oil painting for the show.
So I had found this little haven that regularly hosted cool art events, where I could work in peace with the fastest free wifi I found anywhere in Tokyo, where i could get up at anytime and wander by more artbooks, original animation cells and figurines than I would ever be able to own and all within a short walk from my apartment.
Anyway, there is some point to me sharing all this.
I used to dream about creating a space where my friends and I could gather, create and share ideas and techniques. However these recent experiences have made me realise that this doesn't need to be some far off goal or even a fixed physical location. No matter how much money I save I would never be able to recreate what I found in Nakano and all it cost me was the price of a coffee to use that space for as long as I wanted.
There can be a tendency to want to carve out a space that we can point to and call "mine" and then fill that space with objects we consider "ours". If I were to, for example, build a studio, an ideal space for my creative work and study, it would be limited by what I invite into that space. I could fill it with my favorite things but there would be fewer opportunities for random encounters or discoveries. This is partly because creating a studio is a significant investment and you would be tied to it in many ways, less able to just drop everything and go travelling. Not that I'm advocating one approach over the other. There are pros and cons to each and sometimes you need a firm base to work from, but for now I know which I prefer.
Although I'm sad that i have to leave Tokyo and this fun space in Nakano, let's see what surprises Hong Kong has to offer.
Had a great afternoon catching up with some old friends today and we found this amazing VENTURE exhibition by ThreeA toys featuring the work of Phil Hale and Ashley Wood.
SEAPIG. My first Ma.K build!
Having fun doing a small Otomo Katsuhiro study from a cheap copy of Akira Volume 1 I picked up at second hand book store here in Tokyo. First time trying the screentone technique of shading. Takes ages but enjoyable once you get into it
Had to drop by. I had a feeling Miyazaki's house would be near the studio and it was, just a few blocks away. After walking past a couple of times (6) I caught a glimpse of a silver haired gentleman inside. There was at Citroen 2CV parked outside. Pretty sure this car featured in his first film Castle of Cagliostro.
I sat on a park bench near the house and did a quick portrait (pictured below with my recently purchased Terada piece) then felt enough like a stalker for one day and headed back to Shinjuku.
Kim Jung Gi had been to see Terada's solo show while he was here for his own exhibition in Nakano. A few days later they announced this surprise live drawing collaboration! Watching these two masters draw side by side was incredible. About halfway through there were whispers that James Jean had showed up out of nowhere for the event and sure enough he was there in Bar Zingaro afterwards. All three were sketching together in copies of Kim's latest book.
Awesome morning. Just been to the opening of Terada Katsuya's solo show here in Tokyo. Got here first thing and the gallery was already packed and original pieces were selling extremely fast. I've followed Terada for around 15 years and seeing his original sketches up close I felt the same excitement I felt when i saw his work for the first time all those years ago. Managed to get myself one of the smaller pieces and worked up the courage to ask for a photo with the man himself...
So this morning, i left my hotel room with no real plan of where to go, as usual, and as usual ended up getting pretty lost. I was missing Hanoi and the friends i'd made there and Seoul didn't seem that interesting. I had seen a flying squirrel at a pet shop but other than that the day was feeling like a waste. I was about to head back when i spotted this art and design centre. There was some kind of toy exhibition on. Inside there was some cool stuff but nothing amazing. I ended up at a table with a few people gathered round. A guy was sketching in an art book. I flipped through one of the books on the table and thought to myself "Nice stuff, reminds me of Kim JungGi's work". Then i looked again at the guy sketching with the brush pen. "That isn't Kim JungGi is it?".....10 seconds later it clicked..."HOLY F**K KIM JUNG GI IS SKETCHING RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!!!"
I scrambled in my backpack for my iPad to get some pictures. I looked up and he had dissappeared. A few minutes later he walked right past me, smiled and went up to a large canvas. He was doing a live paint today and i'd just stumbled into it!!
Was so great to watch this master work and when he finished he was cool enough to do a quick sketch in my moleskin, turning my unremarkable sketchbook into a priceless relic (at least for me).
All throughout this 3 month trip so many great things have happened without having to make any real plan or effort. Most i'll never be able to put into words but today was a cool example. You can leave your front door, with no plan and let life take care of the rest. If you want an adventure you just have to show up