Tokyo Exhibition

Red Town
By John Shelley

I'm back in the UK now after spending the summer in Tokyo (some may remember I used to live there for over 20 years). It was very good to be back and the show was a great success. Part of the exhibition was the original artwork to my Jack and the Beanstalk book [Jack to Mame no Ki], which has just been released in Japan, but as these were not for sale, the gallery made a series of 2 very fine limited edition "Neograph" prints from the book.
Neographs are double printed: a light silk screen is run over high resolution giclée print, resulting in work that is virtually indistinguishable from the original.

Also, in addition to book artwork I filled the remainder of the wall space with small images developed from sketchbook ideas, most in black and white, the theory being that in these hard times small images could be sold at an affordable price within most people's budgets. Also small means they fit easily on compact Japanese apartment walls! Here are some of the small images, many were sold during the show, but a few are still available via the gallery online shop.

Bird Tree

City Spiral

Tall Ship

Underground Town
These were a lot of fun to draw, being a step away from commissioned work and thus with more freedom of expression. In most cases I simply took an original sketchbook drawing, traced it off on a lightbox and coloured. The down side is that the redraw often loses the immediacy of the original sketch, but these worked pretty well.

I would love to develop some of these into picture books, but therein lies the pinch - the pictures stand alone at the moment and tell their own story. Associating them with a plot is always a challenge.


  1. Gorgeous work, I especially love "Red Town' and the way the roads intertwine.

  2. Great stuff John! All the same the one I want to go back to is the more narrative image of Jack climbing up the kitchen shelves - lovely character detail and movement in it!
    A Neograph eh? I bought a Shaun Tan from Illustration Cupboard last year - actually a giclée print which is simply the French for jet...It looks exactly like paint - slight embossing even. I wonder iwhat the difference if any, between top quality ink jet and giclée. As I understand it most top notch inkjets have archival ink and it's the paper that makes the real difference. Buy google to the rescue and I'll have to check Neograph too!


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