Anselm Dästner

December 8, 2014

Like a true journalist, but armed with paint and brushes, Anselm is able to bring us what is out there.


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Anselm Dästner. © Luis Mendo.

MC: What is your relationship to Tokyo?

AD: I grew up in Germany and stayed in New York after college. My second father was directing an opera in Tokyo once a year. I visited Tokyo frequently and was fascinated by the alternate universe of an Asian metropolis and dreamed of living there. A few years later I met my Japanese wife in New York and since then our family lives in both places.

MC: When and why did you start drawing the city?

AD: As a kid I started sketching while traveling on vacations with my dad through Europe. He wanted to see every church and museum on the way and wrote and sketched in his notebook. Buildings and places were easy to draw because they didn’t walk away and you didn’t have to ask for permission.

MC: How do you combine drawing with your work?

AD: I am a graphic designer working on record covers, websites, and logos. I start collecting ideas and then sketch and draw them out before finalizing layouts on the computer. And I also paint for fun.

MC: What is it you tried to achieve with your drawings of Tokyo?

AD: Drawing and painting are a good break after sitting too long in front of the computer. You can get hold of the atmosphere of a place and walk away with a tangible souvenir. At home my daughter and I like to bring out paints.

MC: Tell us about the place that you have selected.

AD: They are all places that I walk by often—for example the Shimokitazawa station drawing is in front of the supermarket. I also like to have a place to sit comfortably for an hour. A cafe would be good, like in the Shibuya drawing.

MC: What’s your favorite Tokyo place?

AD: I like the small, bustling neighborhood markets and tiny isakayas. Even though tradition is important to the Japanese, progress and profit move faster and Shimokitazawa station is being turned into another generic mall. I also like the onsen bath culture a lot.

MC: Who is a reference for your work or is there someone whose work you particularly admire?

AD: Tadanori Yokoo of course. He is also a graphic designer and such an idol to me. I like how he portrays Japanese culture so brutally honest.

MC: Did drawing change your life and if it did can you explain us in what way?

AD: I don’t remember not drawing, so I wouldn’t know how life would be without it.

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© Anselm Dästner.

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Google view of our neighborhood in Sasazuka. © Anselm Dästner.

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Slim street corner near Takaido. © Anselm Dästner.

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The old Shimokitazawa station in front of Ozeki. © Anselm Dästner.

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Train crossing near Yoyogi Station. © Anselm Dästner.

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Shibuya Station. © Anselm Dästner.