Three months in Japan

Living and learning on a Japanese exchange with illustrator, Alexander Lee.

Student Alexander Lee went on a three-month exchange to Japan.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Japan; I've loved their comic and computer games since high school. The country is so vibrantly graphic, with cartoons on and used for everything – not to mention the honour and manners ingrained into their culture, which is also chock-full of shiny new technology.  

The exchange took place at Bisen College of Art in Hokkaido, in the city of Sapporo, for three months. I was given my schedule that was tailored to my illustration background and included: silver accessories; still life drawing; original painting; traditional painting; Zen floral arrangement (which was actually great fun!); Manga; perspective (that I traded for photography); calligraphy; and language lessons. 

My high school art teacher always told us that we should go on gap years as artists needed to be charged up by their experiences and the trip certainly did give me the right sort of jolt! I did some of my strongest work, finding a style I was comfortable with under those alien conditions. The whole budgeting thing was a great learning opportunity – that and being able to survive in a completely foreign land for a quarter of the year by myself have definitely benefited me in my personal growth.”