An Illustrated Love Letter To Tokyo, Inspired By The New Yorker

More than 40 illustrations depict the dynamic city through the eyes of local artists.

The New Yorker‘s magazine covers are some of the most iconic in the business, serving not only as a megaphone for illustrators to tackle cultural and political issues, but as a love letter to the city itself. The magazine’s cover has become an influential artistic authority on New York, showcasing the good, the bad, and the ugly. But why should New York be the only city to have such a platform for artistic depictions?


[Illustration: ©The Tokyoiter/Fern-Choonet]
Now, Tokyo is getting a forum for urban portraiture through a project called The Tokyoiter. The faux magazine is really a vehicle for illustrations of the city, framed by borrowed graphical elements from its cousin in New York. Started by the Tokyo-based illustrators and designers Eto Tatsushi, David Roberts, and Andrew Joyce in 2015, The Tokyoiter now features more than 40 artists’ imaginings of the city. Chosen because they were born in, are based in, or have experienced Japan, the artists have dreamed up images of the city that are strikingly different, representing the myriad facets of life possible in a city like Tokyo.

There’s the soft watercolor of a serene grey bedroom with a white shirt hanging from the window by the Japanese illustrator Niikura Sachiyo; there’s the graphic, blocky bustle of a street corner from the Japanese illustrator Ryoko Ichikawa; and there’s the bright, collage-like portrait of a geisha who faces away from the viewer, her hair tied up elaborately with bows and ribbons, by the Thai-born, Tokyo-based illustrator Fern Choonet. “I was inspired to make this illustration from the fact that Tokyo also has its own Geisha district, although not as well known as Kyoto,” Choonet writes on the project’s website. “If you’re lucky enough, you might stumble upon them in areas like Asakusa or Yoshi-cho. I wanted to use the colorful patterns in her kimono to depict the city lights and signboards all around Tokyo.”

Check out the rest of the gorgeous illustrations here.

About the author

Katharine Schwab is a contributing writer at Co.Design based in New York who covers technology, design, and culture.