Quick Review of Tokyo Art Book Fair Ginza Edition 2019

I love, love, love the Tokyo Art Book Fair. It’s a concentration of great ideas and you can almost feel the creative energy emanating from the pages. From March 8th to April 7th, Tokyo Art Book Fair is holding the “Ginza Edition” at Ginza Sony Park. The Zine’s Mate shop is open every day. On weekdays you can buy books from a vending machine and on the weekends, exhibitors replace the vending machine. Each weekend has different exhibitors. I love the vending machine concept. Between the vending machine and new exhibitors every weekend, there’s plenty of motivation to go more than once.

 

I shared a table with Art Byte Critique on the opening weekend. Working with ABC is another reason I love TABF. Throughout the year I enjoy watching my fellow artists’ creations morph from idea to physical object. Then during TABF we get to see people interact with our books and ask questions. ABC also shared the table with artists from England that we have been collaborating with over the last two years. I really admire how they push the idea of book form and their craftsmanship.

 

 

Like every year we’ve been next to great tables and this year is no exception. Our neighbours were Anmoc Books, which is based in Korea, Homspun, a clothing shop in Shibuya, and COS. COS had a beautiful book about structures and folds.

 

 

Anmoc Books had some of the most beautiful photography books I’ve seen. Their craftsmanship for handmade photography books is amazing. We traded a few books.

Taehee Park of Anmoc Books with fellow exhibitor

 

On a personal note, I was really excited to finish Glow in the Dark Pop Out Mushrooms for TABF. The case is covered with polymer clay that glows in the dark and the  hand-drawn and painted concertina. The smaller green book, Pop Out Mushrooms was first shown at Launch Pad Gallery in September in the Reading Between the Lines exhibition.

I also had a new project called Space songs which is based on the electromagnetic and radiation waves translated into sound.

I’m going to take my own advice and check out the vending machine during the week. I’ll update the post with pics from my next visits along with some books.

Organized by the Tokyo Art Book Fair & Ginza Sony Park
When: Mar 8 – Apr 7, 2019 from 10:00 – 20:00
*Mar 8 will be from 17:00 – 21:00.
Where: Ginza Sony Park 5-3-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

TRANSIT
Connected via the B9 Exit of Tokyo Metro Ginza Station (Marunouchi Line/Ginza Line/Hibiya Line)
5 min. walk from the Central Exit of JR Yurakucho Station (Yamanote Line/Keihin-Tohoku Line)

Zine’s Mate:  Every day from 10:00-20:00

Vending Machine: Mon – Fri, starting  from 10:00 – 20:00

Interview With Jessica Whitfield About Sequential Art and Monogatari

Jessica is one of the collaborating artists in Monogatari. We didn’t have the chance to meet as she couldn’t make it to the release party. Her story about the Romance Car, a train that travels from Tokyo to Hakone, shows a keen observation of Japan with a perfect dash of whimsy. Jessica kindly took the time to reply to my questions about her work.
jessica-whitfile-illustration-sequential-stories-comics-interview-thespendypencil

Q: How long have your been making sequential art?

I’ve been sketching cartoon strips for about 6 months. It started as a diary to try and remember funny things my friends said during the day. Monogatarizine with ToCo is my first published piece!

Q: What do you like about sequential art compared toother forms of expression?

I like that sequential art is very accessible. You don’t have to understand art to get it. It’s also a little nostalgic.

Q: What inspired your story for Monogatari?

I think Japan must be the only country in the world to make people fall in love with trains. Nearly every one I met in Japan would get animated talking about their favourite train line. I worked in a kindergarten so trains were a massive deal for the kids and a great way to make friends! My favourite train in Japan is the romance car; I love the style, the destination (Hakone)and the name of it.

Q: What are you most proud of in your story?

I feel proud that I was able to capture the small things that made me love Tokyo; like the little plant pots outside houses and seasonal flowers.

What was the biggest challenge in making your story?

The hardest aspect was coming up with an original plot! I wanted it to be a love story but not too cliché or soppy.

Q: Do you have any favorite stories or sequential artiststhat you recommend to readers?

I love Dodge Greenley’s instagram comics. Yumi Sakugawa is another inspirational sequential illustrator!

Q: Where can people find out more about your work?

For now, just my instagram: genki_jess

Monogatari: Tokyo Collective’s Second Sequential Art Anthology

Illustrators Julia Nascimento and Erica Ward created ToCo (Tokyo Collective) which produces sequential art anthologies. Julia Nascimento explains, “Erica and I created ToCo to promote collaborative opportunities for local artists and showcase their artwork in storytelling.” The first issue of ToCo, Hajime, came out early Spring 2018. Hajime presents eight different artists’ first impression of Tokyo. I loved the perspective of the artists and their work. I loved Hajime so I was excited to take part in the second issue, Monogatari.

Monogatari is the tale of things. Thirteen artists tell stories of inanimate objects in Tokyo. The variety of art and points of view are impressive.

Release Party: Thanks to Tokyo Chapter and the ToCo team and everyone who came out to support the release of Monogatari. It was great to see so many people looking at and enjoying the work.

Artist Talk: On the last day, artists talked about their work. It was interesting to hear about the what inspired and influenced the artists when creating their stories. The Sequential Art Meetup Group in Tokyo had a meeting after–another chance to meet more artists!

 

 

INTERVIEWS:

I interviewed some of the artists about their creative process and thoughts about sequential art. They will be coming out over the next couple days. I will update the links below when each interview is posted.

Tania Vicedo
Jessica Whitfield

Participating Artists Information
Julia Nascimento http://nsjulia.carbonmade.com
Erica Ward https://ericawardart.com
Tania Vicedo https://taniavicedo.net
Craig Atkinson https://craigatkinson.tokyo/
Carin Ogawa https://www.ogawacarin.com/
Odding Wang http://odding.rocks/
Jess Whitfield  https://www.instagram.com/genki_jess/
Mariko Jesse https://marikojesse.com/
Lori Ono http://loriono.com/
Felipe Kolb Bernardes https://conanfelipe.artstation.com/
Louis-Étienne Vallée https://louisillustration.com/
Chizuko Tanaka http://tanakachizuko.com/
Shingo Nagasaki http://nagasakishingo.com/
Kaori Noda https://nodakaori.tumblr.com/

Onishi summer matsuri

Over the last couple years since I did a short artist residency in Onishi in Gunma Prefecture, I’ve been lucky enough to attend the summer matsuri. This is a super short post since I’ve written about it before, but I found these pictures from 2015 the other day and it brought back great memories of hot summers, community solidarity and friendliness. I hope I can take more pictures this summer.

 

Thanks ONISHI!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upcoming Exhibitions Including my FIRST Solo Show

It’s been a productive time behind the scenes and now the fun stuff! I have three exhibitions coming up in the next couple weeks. Two are group exhibitions and the other is my first SOLO show!

I’ll be posting more about each show in the future, but for now, this is the schedule.

2017 Tokyo Art Book Fair Interview Series of Art Byte Critique Artists: Louise Rouse

This is the fifth in a series of interviews with Art Byte Critique members participating in the Tokyo Art Book Fair which runs from October 5 to October 8th. This is Art Byte Critique’s fourth appearance at TABF and we are all really excited.  Louise kindly too time to do a Q&A series and provides some images of her projects.

Name: Louise Rouse
From: UK
Time in Japan: 9 years 336 days as of today. Plus 4 months before that in 2006. Plus 2 weeks before that in 2003. Plus 3 weeks before that in 1998.

Education/ Occupation: MFA / Adjunct Professor for Printmaking & Drawing, Art Program, Temple University Japan Campus

How long have you been making books?
I don’t think I could pinpoint when I started organising ideas into bound paper objects of some kind. I can remember doing that forever.

When I was in middle school I even made my maths coursework which was a large part of the final grade into a ringbound zine with elaborately designed pages printed out on our home inkjet printer. I cannot speak for the quality of the maths though…

My middle school social studies teacher liked my zine assignment submission on the subject of local church history and paintings so much he wouldn’t give it back and was still showing it to other classes the last I heard… I’m still a little mad he didn’t give it back.

At age 15 I went on a work experience placement to a teen girl magazine in London and told my class I wanted to be a magazine designer as an adult.

I think I have always used something like graphic design (even before I knew what that was) to organise my thoughts and to actually understand the world.

I instinctively tidy disparate thoughts into sequential sections that are visually easy to look at and somehow the information gets traction where otherwise it would get lost and unprocessed in the sea of un-designed chaos out there in the world.

There is almost nothing that consistently pleases me as much as beautiful images and lettering on paper that I can hold in my hands and flip back and forth through my fingers.

What is the biggest challenge for you when you make a book?
The biggest dilemma is to counter any and all inclinations to complicate an already large engineering challenge. In other words, making the book the simplest form of the idea you want to achieve because once you start editioning books you really discover the limits of one human’s time and labour.

This year I’m making a set of more elaborate books than I have in a while so we’ll see if I can actually adhere to my own hard-learned principle.

Do you have any art book heroes?
I’m indebted to Jonathan Ward who taught at my undergrad in Bristol. He told me romantic stories of his youth, carrying a suitcase of artist books around on the trains of Europe and selling them for a living. This seemed totally normal at the time, like “oh yeah, make money from artist books while traveling on trains, I dig it”.

He owns a small fine-art silkscreen press on the Isle of Weight now so it must be possible.

Also at the same university is Sarah Bodman, a dedicated book arts researcher and champion of this artform based in the Centre for Fine Print Research. Her passion and dedication to the community is inspiring. You can subscribe to her newsletter here: http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/newsletters.html

How did working with Art Byte Critique help you prepare your work?
Art Byte Critique consistently supports all members and everyone seems to really feel it at the end of each meeting. Normally as an artist, it’s very easy to feel like your work is an island of no relevance to any living being but I feel the exact opposite of that in the company of these incredible people. The combined output of our collective is like a living organism. Maybe like a wild wisteria… A bit invasive…. and sprawling…. but hella pretty.

What would you like people to know about your books?
This year I am presenting a book series of four titles, Kinjo, Tsukin, Tocho and Kabukicho (Neighborhood, Commute to work, Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the red light district of Kabukicho) Each book is made with wooden casings which are carved with the title. The wood used is all native to Japan and reflects the character of the area, the paper is also hand made paper from Japan with connotations about those locations. Inside are frottage rubbings taken by using the streets and surfaces of the city as “wild printing plates”. Creating the work itself is a very public performance and a lot of interactions occurred between me and fellow Tokyoites who caught me doing this unusual thing in public space. It has been a very engaging project to work on and given me a lot of new thoughts and ideas each day working on it and I’m looking forward to presenting the works and the diary of making it to people at the book fair.

Do you have any advice for people coming to the book fair?
Last year I found a Japanese-run stall that imported a range of small edition linocut illustration magazines from a specialist German publisher, that was a great find. Around 40 pages of full color or 2-color linocuts, carved by artists and printed by this publisher, maybe ¥9000 or so which is a steal considering. Also some unexpected finds from totally unknown young artists who should be charging a lot more for intensively loved and crafted art books and fine-printed zines.

In between all of this magic, take lots of breaks for refreshments.

You can find out more about Louise and her work at the following:
instagram.com/louise.rouse.art

instagram.com/louises_love_letters

facebook.com/louise.prints.art/

louiserouse.com (empty at the moment though but for posterity… when i get it back up)

Tokyo Art Book Fair is at Warehouse TERRADA
2-6-10 Higashishinagawa Shinagawa-ku Tokyo

Preview/Reception and Hours and Admission
October 5th (Thu) 15:00-21:00(Tentative)
Admission: 1,000 yen

Free Admission and Hours:
October 6th (Fri) 12:00-20:00
October 7th (Sat) 12:00-20:00
October 8th (Sun) 11:00-19:00

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2017 Tokyo Art Book Fair Interview Series of Art Byte Critique Artists: Nick West

Our fourth interview in our Tokyo Art Book Fair 2017 with Art Byte Critique artists is Nick West.

Name: Nick West
From: Brighton, UK.
Time in Japan: 7 years.

How many TABF have you participated in? 
TABF 2017 will be my second artist book fair that I’ve participated in. In both years I showed my work with artists from the collective Art Byte Critique.

How long have you been making books?
I have been making books, on and off, since about 1998.

What is your favorite kind of books to make?
I’ve always been drawn to the physicality of books so I like to make books that emphasise their sculptural characteristics.

Do you have favorite materials to use?
I like to use simple materials. Just paper, thread and glue.

What kind of books are you making for this fair?
Actually, I’ve spent some time working on an installation in a gallery in the UK this summer.  This work entailed making 26 circular-bound books cut in shapes that approximate letters of the alphabet. Although there isn’t room for the whole work at TABF, I’ll be exhibiting some images and an example book from this project alongside a separate blueprint.

Nick West, A-Z² (2017)

 

 

What did you learn from last book fair? What are you doing differently for this book fair?
The best thing I saw was that the delight that people take from thumbing through books. I hope to give visitors a more tactile appreciation of my works this year.

Do you have any art book heroes?
Not art book heroes, as such, but I’ve long been interested in a French group called Oulipo. Roughly translated, ‘Oulipo’ means ‘the potential for literature’. They aren’t so well known but they were a group of writers during the 1960s who devised various ways of writing using constrained techniques. One novel, ‘A Void’ was even told without the letter e.

Do you have any advice for people who want to start making books?
Make the book you want to read.

Do you have any advice for people coming to the book fair?
There’s always loads to see at TABF. Give yourself plenty of time to get lost in the books on display.

You can find out more about Nick West and his work at:
https://www.facebook.com/nickweststudio/
Twitter – @nwestmeetseast
https://www.canvas.co.com/creatives/nick-west

Photo courtesy of the artist.

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2017 Tokyo Art Book Fair Interview Series of Art Byte Critique Artists: Yuko Kamei

The third interview of the Art Byte Critique’s 2017 Tokyo Art Book Fair participating artists is with Yuko Kamei.

From: Japan
Time in Japan: Most of my life except 5 years in U.K.
Education/ Occupation: MFA Fine Art & BA Dance Studies
Yuko works full time while continuing her practice

How many TABF have you participated in?
This year will be my second time participating in TABF.

How long have you been making books?
My first art book came out in 2009 as part of “on concrete” exhibition which I organised together with Jörg Obergfell and Sebastian Stumpf. Working with a graphic designer in Leipzig, Germany, it was a fun collaborative project from conception to materialisation. I worked on a similar publication in 2013 with Hikaru Miyakawa along with the show titled “Platonic Obsession”. For this one I took all the initiative from the layout to selecting paper, ink color, and binding methods.

I began to take book making more seriously recently especially after my first TABF in 2016. I think I will produce more in the coming years.

What is your favorite kind of books to make?
I like books with a feel of somewhere between DIY and mechanical reproduction, which might explain why I employ photography as a main medium.

What kind of books are you making for this fair?
The new book is called “The Great Stillness”, and it is based on a photo series which I have been working on since 2012. Each picture was taken to be printed in a large size so that one can see both the whole scene and details, but for turning them into a book I wanted it to be a handy pocketable size while keeping the in-and-out movement of picture viewing. This is gradually determining the book structure, and I would like to be playful about combining different methods of printing. Like music, this will be the first remix of the ongoing project, and there could be many more versions to come.

What did you learn from last book fair? What are you doing differently for this book fair?

Picture of Yuko Kamei’s work in progress.

The great thing I learned last year was that people who will buy my book exist. Someone I don’t know took my book in his/her hand, flipped it through, liked it, and brought it home. My idea somehow clicked their mind, and I think that is very special. Because of this I am approaching this year’s TABF little more confidently. I hope it happens again this year.

How did working with Art Byte Critique help you prepare your work?
ABC for me is a serious yet inclusive place where I can be myself and fuelled to do what I do. Going to the monthly get-together helps me to get back on track and be productive.

What would you like people to know about your books?
Making books is like creating a framework to perch upon for the ideas that float inside my head. It is becoming an important medium for me apart from photography.

You can see more of Yuko’s work at:
http://yuccak.net

Photo courtesy of the artist.
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Favourites from the Tokyo Art Fair 2017

The Tokyo Art Fair 2017 was in March. I was lucky enough to attend for Tokyo Art Beat. I can be a bit shy so having the purpose of recording impressions of the Art Fair and wearing a press arm band really helped to break the ice. There was a lot of work that I really enjoyed and conversations with the artists and gallery owners were fascinating. There were some space constraints for the TAB article and I thought I would share the work here as well.

Artist information is in the title of the photo so you may need to click to see it. My comments are in the description of the photos.

All photos taken with permission of the artists or gallery representatives.

Detail of Chigusa Kono’s glasswork.

 

Kono-San is really nice and generous with her time. Plus she’s a Gunma artist! I’ve met so many people from Gunma recently. I love the concept of her imaginary plants. She bases her work on real plant detail but creates alien looking biological forms. Her work also makes a nod to ikebana. You can arrange the glass plants as you like in the stone stand.  I really regret not getting a better photo of the detail of the work.

 


I rally enjoyed the audio sculpture created by Pe Lang and Marianthi Papalexandri Alexandri. I wish I had done a better job of capturing this. I had a really interesting discussion with Marianthi about the work and her collaboration with Pe Lang.

This kinetic sculpture really fascinated me as well.

Nicosui and Harunobu Aihara: The Couple that Felts Together

aihara-yuko-nicosui-needlefelting-fiber-artist-lorionophotographyYuko and Harunobu Aihara felt together. The pair recently had a fiber sculpture exhibition called Ikimono Expo 2 at Gallery Choukou (ギャラリー澄光) near Okusawa station (on the Meguro line) that shows how creative and detailed needle felting can be. The couple started 7 years ago with a small needle felting kit but immediately saw potential for their own designs and started with their own creations almost immediately. One thing that I noticed was the variety of color in the work and I know that they base structure takes a lot of wool. They admit to having a lot of wool roving–two large plastic boxes in fact. For two artists working together and using the same medium, their aesthetic is completely different. And all of the incredible detail (except for Harunobu Aihara’s yarn wrapping), is done with felting needles, not embroidery.

Aihara Yuko uses the artist name Nicosui. Real animals and the animal characters of Grimm’s fairytales inspire her work. She chooses her subjects by how much they intrigue her. Sometimes it is the story, as with the fairytale creatures, but often it is the animal’s face and her desire to try and create a particular shape or feature. She chose the koala because she was interested in recreating the fluffy ears and the shape of the muzzle. She told the most difficult was the giraffe because of the structure. It was surprisingly longer and thinner in the nose than compared to skull.


aihara-yuko-nicosui-needlefelting-fiber-artist-lorionophotography-2While Nicosui’s creations look realistic, she seldom chooses the animal’s natural color. Instead she chooses a color palette that represents what she sees the spirit of the animal: red for the lion, and pink and purple for the feminine nature of the giraffe, green for the koala. She also makes more realistically colored animals in small scale for broaches.

What Nicosui wants people to know about her work:

ぜつめつ動物をなくす (prevent extinction of animals)

Many of the characters she creates are endangered animals. She hopes to inspire the viewer to live in peace with animals and take care of the earth so that people and animals have a healthy place to live.

aihara-harunobu-fiber-artist-needlefelting-portrait-lorionophotography
Aihara-san holds “Gokiburi”

 

Harunobu Aihara is an illustrator and graphic designer. He is also a bassist in a 70’s music hard rock band. Nicosui’s work has more realism while Aihara’s work is about unique, fantastical characters. His style is whimsical and humorous. He says his style has almost always been like this. This year was the first he tried making insect-inspired creature. He really enjoyed them so he made a lot.

It’s not just Aihara’s aesthetic that is different from Nicosui’s. His work process is also completely different. He says that Nicosui takes a lot of time with each project working slowly to perfect her details while he prefers いきよいでつくる, making with momentum.

While he often starts with a sketch, which he may or may not adhere to. Sometimes he freestyles with wool. The base of his sculptures are wire armatures. He builds dimension over the armature by wrapping wool roving around it, and using felting needles to refine the shape. The color detail is a layer of needle felting, sometimes wrapping with yarn or fabrics depending on the effect he wants


He also made many angels, which also have insect or avian features. He said that they are slightly disguised to look like a bird if a person looked up to see one flying in the sky.


His goal: たのしと平和.  He wants to bring viewers moments of enjoyment where they can feel peace through happiness.

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