There are plenty of events in Tokyo every month; art, design, photography, illustration. The event I attended, Tokyo Art Book Fair, is one for independent publishers. Zine makers, independent presses, bookshops, individual artists and groups who go want to sell their work and find buyers.
Tokyo Art book Fair is also the biggest art event for publishers and artists in Asia. The event runs for three days in September, and the venue is located at Kyoto University of Art and Design, Gaien Campus in Aoyama. If you choose to apply as an exhibitor it can be for one to three days and you can even share the table with friends or colleagues.
This year, I got invited to share a table by a friend. This was my first time to join as an exhibitor, I didn’t have too much time to prepare, so I just printed and bound my home illustration collection into a zine. At Tokyo Art Book Fair, I saw that many people had printed their own using ink prints, silk ink print, or block printing.
pictures by universotokyo
At Tokyo Art Book Fair, you can not only meet many creators, but also some galleries, print studios, and paper manufacturers. If you are a fan of good paper stock, you should not miss this event. TAKEO, which I’m sure you’ve heard of if you’re a creative in Tokyo, had a shop at this event where you could ask them about how to choose paper stocks, touch and test paper samples and of course, you could buy some of their lovely stocks. Apart from TAKEO, there were other paper manufacturers that make high quality sketchbooks which were available for very low prices. But there weren’t only paper manufacturers, there were also DIY typographic print and silk print companies there.
Most of the creators I met were illustrators, but there were also artists, photographers, graphic designers, and writers. And it’s not just creators from Tokyo either – they came from all over the world. I met an illustrator who lives in Kobe, and one comic artist who came from Canada, just to join this event.
Tokyo Art book Fair is definitely the right event if you want to meet different creators from all around around the world. However, it is also a good chance to connect and talk with Japanese creators. At this event, you can see the differences between the work of Japanese creatives and international creatives. I found that they were happy to share information about what stocks they use, how they worked and even how they started their own career. Making it a good event for aspiring creatives to connect and learn a little from those more experienced.
If you just come as a visitor, you will still have a lot of fun here. There is beer, drinks, second hand books, events, and good music at night. It is not a bad way to spend your weekend!
By joining Tokyo Art Book Fair as an exhibitor, I realised this event is a really good start for your own career as a freelance artist. You don’t need to print a lot of books, even if you only have few handmade zines, you should still take this opportunity to get some exposure to the market and show your work. You never know if your big chance is just standing right in front of you.