Drawing the Disappearing Shopfronts of Tokyo

Drawing the Disappearing Shopfronts of Tokyo

Tuesday April 18, 2017 Written by Garry

When Polish artist Mateusz Urbanowicz moved to Japan to study animation a few years ago, he found inspiration not just in his teachers and colleagues at the animation studio he now works at, but from Tokyo’s streets.

Not the kinds of Tokyo streets that might spring to mind, however. Rather than modern Tokyo, with its flashing lights and kaleidoscopic signage, Urbanowicz turned his gaze on the city’s quieter streets and their ageing shopfronts.

Surprised at their existence, he set about giving some of these meat, sake, and traditional woodblock print shops the watercolour treatment. His palette is soft and inviting, and not far off from the tones employed by Japanese animation powerhouses like Studio Ghibli.

They’re also realistic, in the sense they’re true to the buildings’ structure and scale, but through the sketching and painting process, Urbanowicz adds a dimension of character, an indefinable something that pulls us into an entirely different world.