Style & Fashion Drawings: Tokyo Artists, Part One

June 2, 2016

I had an exhibition last week at Utrecht Bookstore (located in Harajuku, Tokyo). While I was in the city, I caught up with some artist friends and made some new ones. Some sketches of who I recently hung out with:


Akira is one of the staff members at Utrecth Bookstore, as well as a designer on Muji’s “How to Go” series and editor at the contemporary dance magazine Curtain. I often see him simple colors such as blue, white, and black – usually in the form of a t-shirt, pair of jeans, and an accompanying tote bag. For a point of distinction. Akira wears a nice Braun watch and pin. 

Like many of my friends in Tokyo, Akira favors sneakers. I’ve always noticed this difference in Japan. People in Kobe tend to wear more formal-looking leather shoes, even with their casualwear, whereas people in Tokyo are often in trainers. 


Shin Hamada is a photographer, who’s both done exhibitions in Japan and professional work for clients such as Paper Sky, Muji, and Beams. I’ve only met him twice so far, but both times he was sporting a similar, casual style. Here he’s in simple, long sleeved pullover with jeans, royal blue Nikes, and a simple white t-shirt. He was also carrying a nylon drawstring bag, which I covered a few weeks ago


Luis Mendo is one of my favorite artists at the moment. He ran his own design company for eleven years, and then gave it up for two years to concentrate on a new career as an illustrator (or “drawer,” as he prefers). It’s always fun to hang out with him, as he always knows the best places in Tokyo to sketch. 

When we met last weekend, he came riding a bicycle. His style here reflected the day’s activities – looser jeans with comfortable sneakers; a shirt that could be worn open when hot, but also closed when it gets cooler at night; and a backpack to carry sketchbooks. Luis tells me he never takes the train unless he absolutely has to. For him, Tokyo is a city that’s meant to be seen on a bike. 


Andrew Joyce is an illustrator. If you’re ever in Tokyo, you can see his maps and sketches in some of the city’s train stations. Last time I met Andrew in the winter, he was wearing a quintessentially British look – oxford shirt with a wool sweater, tweed coat, and corduroy pants. His early summer style feels equally British. Here he’s wearing a simple striped overshirt with tan chinos and suede shoes (although my drawing admittedly doesn’t really look like him). 


My friend Youka Miuryu had an exhibition in Tokyo this week. She paints classic Buddhist and Hindu iconography in in order to teach Japanese people about the symbols they sometimes see in temples (but may not know much about). Her work ranges from 8ft wall paintings to 4cm high wooden “koktama” balls, both of which are painted in the same immaculate freehand. 

When I met Youka for lunch, she was wearing a printed blouse with a cotton cardigan, tan capris, and simple slip-on shoes. The weather can be erratic this time of year in Japan – going from hot in the afternoon to chilly at night – so it’s nice to have layers that you can put on and remove as needed. 


Finally, Mariya Suzuki is another old friend of mine who happened to have an exhibition in Tokyo this past week. Her current work features a mix of colorful landscapes on paper and a series of diary notes drawn on fifteen different cups. I like the idea of her diary being split up and later living on in different people’s homes (and being a part of their lives). 

Mariya’s style leans towards Bohemian, although she never quite fully goes there. When I recently saw her, she was wearing a cotton skirt, printed shirt, and green cardigan. Around her neck, she hung her sunglasses. 

Come back in two weeks for six more features on my friends!