Tokyo art residency for creatives | GalleryTool

Almost Perfect – Tokyo art residency for creatives

A three-storey building, tucked away in the neighbourhood of makers, greets me.  It’s nearly-100-years-old. Walking through the streets of inner Tokyo on a hot summer’s day, I was looking for this place, looking for an ‘Almost Perfect’ place.  Its new rentees tell me it used to be a rice shop and a family home for several generations, even surviving the bombings of WWII.
The interior has been kept as close as possible to its original state, giving it an authentic Japanese feel.

The founders Luis, Yuka and Señor their cat. Photo by Alex Abian.

I met Luis (art director and illustrator) and Yuka (director of ethical fashion brand INHEELS) Mendo, founders of Almost Perfect, at their Tokyo art residency for creatives. The story of Luis, Yuka (to find out more about them read Tokyo State feature.) and how ‘Almost Perfect’ was created, is an inspiration, not only to creators but to all who wish to follow their dreams. “Nothing in life can be absolutely flawless”, explains Luis, so they baptized their little haven “Almost Perfect. When Luis first set foot in Japan, wished for a place where he could just escape all worries, where he could focus solely on his creations. Some years passed before Luis could make this vibrant city his new home, and, with Yuka, together, they found this little house in downtown Tokyo, and then everything clicked… With a little renovation, some social media posts, and a lot of goodwill, mainly via word of mouth, Almost Perfect came to life about a year ago.

Photos by Brian Scott Peterson:

The gallery downstairs is small and neat, a quiet place separate from the residential areas above. There are two floors with bedrooms upstairs, each room has a view and a desk, so you can work comfortably. This residency hosts creatives who’d like to spend some time in a quiet place to work on their art projects or to just get some new inspiration. Almost Perfect is run environment-friendly. It welcomes creators from all fields. However, there is a clear focus, when selecting applicants, on how to apply that artistic surplus to the actual world, so as to make it a better, nicer place. Almost Perfect has hosted art directors, musicians, writers, fine artists, illustrators, animation artists and photographers from all around the globe. Everyone who comes here looks at things with curious eyes, wanting to reflect the beauty of our environment.

“Tokyo is definitely a place that leaves an impact on you,” adds Luis. He and Yuka have noticed how the 2-to-6-weeks residencies brought considerable change to the artists’ works. Apart from being in a city that has so much to offer, the neighbourhood of traditional craftsmen also adds a great deal of excitement for all artists wishing to stay at Almost Perfect. Creators staying there are highly encouraged to interact with locals and their surroundings.

Photos by Brian Scott Peterson

In the future, Luis would like to keep this lovely place running on a small scale, so to preserve its authenticity and charm. He’s hoping to bring creators, consumers and industry closer together. He believes platforms like this can bridge the gap between these groups and help the world appreciate artists and alike, and their works more and more.

Márta Balla

Author: Marta Balla

About Marta Balla

Marta lives and works in Budapest, Hungary. She graduated from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), Spain. She holds an MA specialized in painting and art theory. She has exhibited in solo and collective shows in Croatia, Hungary, Israel, Mexico, Spain and the US.  She is also involved in curating and social art projects, and has been invited to international conferences to talk about her art and process.  She teaches traditional painting techniques nationally and internationally. She is also an art therapist, using different artistic expressions and storytelling in the therapeutic process. Marta has been practicing aikido, a non-violent Japanese martial art for 15 years. She has been engaged in contact improvisation dance for 3 years which lead her to more exploration in performance art.