FIRST: ART SUPPLIES
Mini Flamingi - demo of all the art supplies I purchased!
Ok let's get straight to it - Japan is dead serious about art supplies. I advise no one to get into an art supply-off as you will lose miserably with your Officeworks pencil collection (sorry Officeworks, you're still good tho!). Sekaido was the true boss on this trip boasting 1000 levels of every single type of art-making material under the sun. You can check out their website for actual product information as I may have exaggerate somewhat (it's more like 5 levels) but they did not fall short in any way.
As Mitch stood by reluctantly however very patiently (love you), I spent approx. 1 hour in the marker pens aisle. I'm not sure why, I guess I feel like I have all the pencils I need and markers look fun, so that's just where I landed! I wanted to demo all the products in one go so I filmed myself drawing this Flamingo Timelapse! You probably want to know what tools I used for it and less on background story, so here's the full list:
Tombow Dual Brush Pens
These are fantastic and relatively cheaper compared to other brush pens (they are actually available at Officeworks... but cheaper in Japan). They blend really well and you get a nice solid stream of colour. Having quite long & narrow brush means you can create very thick strokes or super fines strokes - I use these for a lot of floral detailed work and couldn't recommend them more.
Pilot Juice Gel Ink Ball Point Pens (0.35mm, 0.5mm & 0.7mm)
I purchased a 12 colour set of 0.5mm pens, as well as 1 x pink 0.35mm & 1 x pink 0.7mm to test out. I didn't have high hopes for these and they performed as expected (I see these more as fun cheap school toys). I was doing a lot of layering and thought I could get some nice pops of colour but the gel does not like sitting on top of other mediums. The ink didn't stream 'juicy smooth' of the casing onto the ball and across the page very well (I think the other medium may have clogged up the ball?). Anyway - a fun purchase to use on it's own but not a mixed-media type product.
Here's where to get them.
Pilot Color Eno Mechanical Pencil (pink graphite, 0.7mm)
I have been dreeeaming about coloured mechanical pencils for ages. I'm now aware that they are in fact available in Australia and I just hadn't looked hard enough, or at all - but I found these in Japan so the story in my mind is that Japan is awesome because that's where I discovered them. What can I say, a continuous stream of hot pink graphite.... heavenly. I bought about 7 extra packs of lead total (also in blue, yellow & orange) - lots of fun to be had with these!
Kuretake ZIG Clean Color Real Brush Markers (I got the 36 pack)
Last but certainly not least, these are a very stunning product. As the name suggests, they are actual bristle brushes but with a constant stream of deliciously coloured ink (36 colours to be exact, there's 80 total). I've never seen these before so whilst there were so many great products to choose from, these really stood out. They blend beautifully too, so if you typically do a lot of watercolour and want to get into using markers and pens, these would be a good transition product. Expensive tho - about $180 for a pack of 36. In Tokyo my 36 set cost $90 - so get these on your next trip to Japan! Or if you're rich do whatever you want hey.
Get em' here!
NOW FOR THE STATIONERY
No. 2 is a really cool one to make note of. I visited Sangsang in Hongdae, Seoul, which is a multi-level building selling mostly stationery, homewares, art & design books and other quirky items. I lost all sense of time in this place! This notebook was a standout piece amongst a collection of products based around a female character named 'Aurore'. The gist is she is an ordinary gal and likes to sit around with her lamb and have things floating around her, such as hand cream, pens and pineapples. She's very relatable.
I bought these City Maps with the intention of using them to get around but they were wrapped in plastic & looked so fresh & pretty so I didn't actually open them to see their full beauty till creating this post! I may frame them eventually, so kinda glad I didn't ruin them trying to get around. Also how good is this fast food purse? I never knew burgers and fries could look so pretty.
First thing you see here are those damn cats in the banana suits... I'm not sure what's happening here but I like it very much. Also this dribbly-paint covered notebook seemed very aggressive but also quite cool so it made it in the shopping cart! And hello little Sonny Angel doll, naked again and wearing a new hat (it's a cactus hat btw).
So many favourites in this set! I love the simplicity and colours in the 'Slow in Paradise' notebook, I really struggled to buy only one thing from this range. The TRA-LA-LA notebook had the most delicious colours - such a cute scribbly vibe to it too, that was a no brainer. Then lastly is this PILLOW NOTEBOOK - did you read that correctly? An actual pillow notebook thing, it's soft and spongy and everything!... the packaging says 'You can dream on your desk!' with a simple drawing of a little person snoozing on a pillowy notebook.
Best thing in this set is that sneaky little Le Meneco Notebook, it's all kinds of crazy. If I imagine what it would be like to be a cat and visit Paris whilst on acid, then this illustrates that perfectly. In all honesty, I did mainly purchase this book for the illo inspo - check out the website to see more, it's awesome. Also I loved collecting these Sonny Angel dolls, I'm not sure why they are naked but they have nice hats.
I love this combo the most - probably cos nothing really goes together but it also works really well somehow? I dunno, must be the green. Anyway that's not actually why I bought these pieces, I've already showed all these lovely items off but had to display them atop this beautiful city map! It really does deserve to be framed.
First thing I bought in Seoul was this notebook. Mitch and I were on a walking tour and our tour guide took us into Sangsang in Hongdae which is where I went absolutely gangbusters and did not hold back on throwing cash around. Anyway, I picked up this notebook and our tour guide said it loosely translated to 'Chubby is not Guilty'... I later googled it and it was closer to 'Fat isn't a Sin' but I liked her translation better! ;)
This beautiful gem of a find was my last purchase of the trip. We had drifted a little west of Shibuya and found ourselves in a really cool neighbourhood called Setagaya-ku filled with heaps of vintage stores and more specifically The Darwin Room which is described as a 'Liberal Arts Lab'. It was this tiny story that felt like a rainforest with glass box mini ecosystems filled with little baby froggies (frogettes?) that would sound their mating call every few minutes so it actually felt like you were in the wild. The store was jam packed with books, posters, framed butterflies and other fauna related items. They even had a narrow wooden ledge against the window facing the street where they could serve you coffee as you read one of their books - a truly magical experience that I recommend anyone going to Tokyo to visit. The ladies working there were so sweet too even though I spoke very limited Japanese. I spotted this beautiful book and they took so much care in wrapping it up for me so it wouldn't get wet on my way home (it was raining a little). Needless to say, that was a great way to end the trip!
Would love to hear if you've also been to Seoul and/or Tokyo and have found some hidden gems or enjoyed the art & design scene as much as I did. Let me know in the comments below! :) x