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.