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illustration of me looking at both London and Tokyo
Illustration: "life between london and tokyo"

It's been almost 10 months since moving to London at the end of May 2023. Initially, there were many challenges and moments of doubt about the path I had chosen, but by the end of the year, I had the opportunity to meet many inspiring people, experience countless opportunities unique to London, and ultimately realized how fortunate I was to be here at this stage in my life.

When I moved to Texas at 21, New York at 22, and Los Angeles at 24, I had clear plans and support systems in place. However, this time, I made this decision to leave my job in Japan without a concrete plan and move to the UK.

After graduating from graduate school, I worked at a company in Los Angeles for about a year, fulfilling my long-standing dream of studying abroad in the United States. Following that, I worked in Tokyo for about three years. While I was able to work on interesting projects in an industry I was passionate about, I began to question whether I wanted to continue in a role where I felt like a cog in a machine beyond my control. Despite my fearless approach to new challenges in my early twenties, I've started wondering about my life, what I would be doing in ten or twenty years, leading me to experience a quarter-life crisis. Due to my helth issue, I've come to realized that my life is short and I am still young and have the freedom to pursue exciting opportunities and experiences. Thus, I made the decision to move to the UK.

While I always loved drawing since childhood, as I grew older and became busier with studies and other commitments, I forgot about drawing for a long time. It was during my time in Los Angeles that I encountered various artists and creatives at work, and felt a deep desire to become like them. I decided to attend drawing school after work, opting for a school similar to a preparatory school for those aspiring to enter the animation industry. Starting with character drawing and progressing to background design, I learned how to draw systematically for the first time in my life. Encouraged by my favourite boss at work who told me that practice makes perfect, I made it a habit to draw additional sketches beyond my weekly assignments. Even after returning to Japan, I continued this routine and rediscovered the joy of drawing as an adult. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I got to have enough time to continue drawing regularly. Posting illustrations of landscapes and shops I loved on Instagram purely for my own satisfaction, I was surprised and delighted when a café I frequently visited in New York reached out to me to purchase my artwork. This unexpected turn of events marked the beginning of my career as an illustrator. While I had never imagined that drawing could become a career, it was a pivotal moment that I began to think about a new dream within me.

Now, my visa for the UK is initially scheduled for two years. While two years may seem long, it also feels short. As I am still debating whether to pursue a career in architecture and urban planning, focus on illustration, or pursue both, I am grappling with various choices. However, I aim to make the most of my limited time in London by exploring the full extent of my potential. I have set a deadline to focus on pursuing a career as an illustrator, a path I had never had the opportunity to explore before. London seems like the perfect place for me given my current situation, and here are three reasons why:

  1. Abundance of Design and Creative Events: There are events happening every month, every week, and every day. Some of the events I have attended and enjoyed include Nicer Tuesday (a talk event hosted by the creative media It's Nice That), London Illustrator's Meet Up, Lady's Wine & Design, Creative Morning, London Design Festival, Urban Sketchers, and Open House, among others. The multitude of events allows me to learn from various people and communities, and the openness of each community makes it easy to make friends—a quality I truly appreciate in London.

  2. Surrounded by High Level of Design and Creativity: Since arriving in London, I have been continually inspired by the high level of design seen in everyday objects, from tube station advertisements to products at grocery shops. This constant exposure to creativity fuels my inspiration on a daily basis.

  3. Diverse Career Options: Through meetups and events, I have met people pursuing diverse careers—from pursuing illustration after a career in architecture or bioengineering, to transitioning from strategic consulting to painting, to freelancing as an animator while working on project-based assignments, to combining graphic design with illustration, to creating short films while working at a video production company, to earning a living through markets and online shops while selling art, to starting their own brands after quitting corporate jobs, to starting their own fashion brands after graduating from university. The multitude of career options and the supportive environment in London, where people readily share their experiences and support one another, have been invaluable to me as a newcomer.

Since moving to London, besides comission work, I have done two group exhibition, mural in Strasford, pop-up shop in Carnaby Street and signed with an illustrator agent. Surprisingly, London has given me more opportunities than I originally imagined. I really appreciate people that I have met and believe in me. I am determined to make the most of my time in London, keep challenging new opportunities and continue pursuing the creative work that I aspire to.


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