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The Story Behind my Tokyo Illustration

Back in 2021, during the midst of the second Covid lockdown, I found myself yearning for the freedom to travel and explore the world once again. The confinement left me feeling trapped, but it also provided me with the opportunity to channel my longing into a creative outlet. At the time I was reading The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, and the creative tasks in the book inspired me to create an illustration that would take on a remarkable journey of its own...

My Connection to The Park Hyatt, Tokyo

My connection to the Park Hyatt bar in Tokyo goes back 17 years, to when I was living in Japan, studying Illustration at Nagoya University of Art. I had arrived in Tokyo on the train from Nagoya, eager to find a good view of the city. I decided to treat myself to a cocktail on the 52nd floor of the New York Bar in The Park Hyatt, Shinjuku, which is where the iconic film 'Lost in Translation' was filmed. I found myself gazing out in awe across a dazzling blanket of neon that stretched as far as the eye could see. It was a solitary moment of electric beauty, a connection between me and the city. Tokyo had cast its enchanting spell on me; the city's energy, its eclectic mix of tradition and modernity, and the sheer scale of its urban landscape overwhelmed me. Tokyo had me hooked, and from that moment, Japan became my haven.

Creating the Illustration:

The illustration ended up being a labour of love and took me many weeks to complete. I constantly reworked it, trying the get the colours and composition just right, to evoke the feeling I had felt when I was there. This was before I used an iPad to draw, so I drew it all by hand using black ink pens, and then painstakingly vectorised every mark and line in Adobe Illustrator before taking it into Photoshop to work on the colour. The process took much longer than I would ever usually spend on an illustration, but during that time I had no deadline so it didn't matter to me. My only goal was to create something that took me back to that place and time, something that would bring back that feeling. Although the bar had actually been busy when I had visited it, I remember having a feeling of peaceful solitude when I was there. I wanted to convey this through the illustration, which I why I drew a woman sitting alone.

The first Tokyo print:

Once I had finished the illustration, I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. After all, it hadn't been commissioned, so it had no home. I decided to create an art print from it and sell it on Etsy, in case there was anyone else out there who had been to Tokyo and resonated with it. I was surprised to find that I sold one the following day! From that day on, I had a steady stream of fellow Tokyo-lovers buying my print. Many reached out to share their memories of Tokyo and the iconic Lost in Translation bar, so we bonded over our shared affection for the city. It was so nice to connect with other travellers who loved Tokyo as much as I did!

The Tokyoiter:

To my delight, the illustration caught the attention of The Tokyoiter magazine, an incredible homage to Tokyo created by the talented duo of Andrew Joyce Illustration and Dave Calver. They chose my artwork to be featured as a cover, and Andy even shared with me that he had proposed to his wife at this exact location, making it even more special!

Stay Section L:

But the journey of my illustration didn't stop there. It was then chosen by the Japanese hotel brand, Stay Section L, to be featured in one of their rooms. My print was showcased alongside other Tokyoiter artists, including Nicholas Alston, Miwa Goto, Japa Art, and Hama House. It was a remarkable feeling to know that my creation would become a part of the ambiance of a Tokyo hotel room, connecting with travellers and art enthusiasts alike.

Limited Edition Prints:

Since then, The Tokyoiter selected my print to be included in their print shop, and they are now offering a limited edition of 150 prints. They are beautifully printed on A3 museum-grade 290gsm Hahnemühle Bamboo paper and come with a Tokyoiter-signed, stamped, and numbered Certificate of Authenticity. You can find these special prints in The Tokyoiter's online store, while stocks last.

The Full Circle:

What makes this journey even more special is the full-circle experience. My artwork was initially inspired by Tokyo and the Lost in Translation Bar, and now it has come full circle, finding a new home in the very city that served as its muse. This connection to Tokyo has a special place in my heart, and it's incredible how art can bring us back to the places we love, even when we can't physically be there.

As an artist, it's incredibly fulfilling to see how one piece of art can take on a journey of its own, connecting with people, places, and emotions along the way. My illustration, inspired by a longing for Tokyo, has become a symbol of that connection. It's a reminder that even in the most challenging times, creativity can transcend boundaries and bring a piece of the world we love into our lives.

Have you ever been to Tokyo? And did you visit the Lost in Translation bar? What was your experience? Let me know in the comments below!


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