It's been 2.5 months since we returned from our Japan trip. It's about time I wrote about this rich cultural experience! One thing that I really wanted to take advantage of while I was there, was to meet up with Japanese illustrators/artists that I admire. I reached out to a few illustrators before we left New York. To my surprise, many of them were so happy to meet up. I was really intimated to reach out to them since I didn't want to appear too eager or creepy, but I am really glad that I put myself out there. Putting aside my nervousness allowed me to make some great connections with illustrators around the world. Plus I feel that no matter what culture you are in, illustrators are generally super nice people.
On our first day in Japan, we were majorly jet-lagged and awake at 5 am. I was eager to make our trip from Enoshima (where we were staying with Tom's family) into Tokyo. It is about a 1.5 hour train ride there. Kinda like commuting into New York City from New Jersey or Connecticut.
We commuted in and met up with Tatsuro Kiuchi. It was really great. He has a studio space under the name, Pen Still Writes. Tatsuro also works alongside 2 fellow illustrators in the studio, Hiromichi Ito and Kanako Okamoto.
We chatted over some green tea and discussed what each illustrator was currently working on. Tatsuro was preparing for a trip to Augusta, GA to illustrate a job at the Masters Golf Tournament. Very Cool!
This is a beautiful print of Tatsuro's artwork that I purchased.
A flower shop just down the street from their studio.
While we were visiting Pen Still Writes, Tatsuro mentioned his artwork was being shown at a bookstore in Ginza. Tom and I had some spare time later that night and found the huge bookstore where the show was being held. It was really great to see the work out in a different context.
Thank you Tatsuro, Hiro, and Kana!
About 2/3 through our trip, I met up with Masako Kubo. I have long admired her work and she is as sweet and humble as they come. We shared a lunch in Omotesando Hills.
(photo and illustration credit: masako kubo)
Since both Tatsuro and Masako studied outside of Japan and work with international clients, I inquired about the differences between American and Japanese clients. The main take-aways from our conversation were: 1. Japanese clients tend to let illustrators have more free-reign on their work, whereas, American clients have heavy art direction. And 2. The rates for illustration from American clients are generally higher, and less from Japanese clients.
Overall, it was really great to meet new people who are doing what I am doing, but on the other side of the world.
Towards the end of our trip, Tom & I were able to meet up with Yuko who is a screenprinter. I first found Yuko's work through her Etsy shop, PataPri, many years ago and have been following her work over the years. She prints in a beautiful home in Yokosuka, a beach town that has gorgeous views from her studio of the water. Tom and I met Yuko at her house where I was able to purchase a beautiful baby blanket and tea towel. Yuko also was so kind and gave us some freebies. After she showed us around her studio, we took a long, beautiful walk along the coast to a restaurant for lunch.
(l-r: Ryan, Yuko, Tom & Me)
We had a delicious lunch at Engawa.
Thank you Yuko!
I gave all my illustrator friends an omiyage, or a gift, of my new illustrated taxi notepad and some Mast Brothers Chocolate. I thought they both are good representation of Brooklyn.
I am so happy that I was able to reach out to people with whom I admire and share common professional practices, although we come from different cultures. The short glimpses into their work and studio practices left me a deeper appreciation to connect with artistic people on our trip. I am so glad that I was able to meet them all!