After delays and bags of uncertainty caused by the pandemic, coupled with numerous PR disasters, the Olympic Games begins quietly in Tokyo tomorrow. Athletes from around the world have descended on one of my favourite cities and countries, where my brand has grown over the years and is stocked in prestigious retail outlets across the country.
I first visited Japan in the early 1990s when my quirky T-shirt brand became popular and became the biggest market for my business. Thirty years on, my map themed illustrations of iconic cities in Japan have been licensed to Izawa, which has created beautiful homewares from the designs. My design studio showcases some of their beautifully printed plates and glass jars.
One of my most vivid memories of being in Japan is a live drawing event that I did at Plaza Lifestyle store in the Ginza, Tokyo. Here I am with my young fan base, creating a painting of this luxury, shopping region in Tokyo.
And here's the finished artwork, which they printed onto beautiful products that still sell in their shop in the heart of Ginza.
A few years ago, I was the brand consultant for a lingerie retail store group called Cuddles and Kisses. I created the brand identity for the brand, including the store decor and merchandising. It was a fabulous experience, travelling around Japan and visiting stores that I had helped to create. Favourite was staying in a traditional ryokan near Sendai.
I was commissioned to create an artwork to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics, celebrating the internationalism and sporting activities associated with the Games. Let the Games begin! :-)