– An Interview with Simon Kalajdjiev, an architectural illustrator
A graduate of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, Skopje. 2006: editor in chief and designer of “Comicus Magnus” magazine; 2008: Cimetta Fund awardee and artist-in-residence in Cappadocia; 2008: designed an art suite in Ice Hotel, Sweden; 2008: Participated in the Biennale of Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean.
Notable exhibitions: “Citygraphy” (2015), “Cappadocia Reflections” (2016), “Drawn to Architecture” group exhibition (2018). Works at Nikken Sekkei, Tokyo.
“Architecture in Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira and in Masamune Shiro’s Ghost in the Shell is almost a character, while the characters in the stories are in awe of their city.” — says Simon Kalajdjiev, an artist and designer, now working as an architecture illustrator in Tokyo. He was stricken by Tokyo’s urban look in anime and manga and that influenced his cityscape drawings.
DRAWING AND BEING DRAWN TO TOKYO
Simon’s love for Tokyo is rooted in Japanese content media, but also in his hometown’s emotional link with Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. In 1963, Macedonia’s capital, Skopje, was levelled by an earthquake and the architectural bureau that won UN’s competition to draw Skopje’s new masterplan was Kenzo Tange Associates. “The Japanese urban sense and Japanese Futurism have resonated strongly with me,” Simon says.
After visiting Tokyo for the first time in 2014 and soaking up the urban landscape, Simon painted his collection titled CITYGRAPHY: TOKYO, exhibited in Skopje. His canvases communicate the passion and energy of the city with vibrant color combinations. In 2016 he came full circle, back to Tokyo and this time drawing the metropolis as a full time job.
THE CITY AND THE CITIZEN
Living in Tokyo and drawing its every corner lets Simon discover and learn aspects of the city that others rarely notice.
His eye catches the underexposed elements like the slanted and terraced roofs for example, which in turn makes him wonder about the reason behind it. These might seem mundane to the eye of the busy commuter or the hurrying tourist, but they make up the very soul of the unique modern Japanese city landscape.
The grids of perfect square windows, oversized billboards mounted on slender buildings squeezed together in narrow streets, train tracks and highways weaving their way above and under the crossroads — these are the traits that paint a picture of a metropolis unlike any other in the world.
He advises everyone “to let themselves wander and take the side alleys to discover Tokyo’s unusual architecture”, instead of only looking for it in the skyscrapers and popular landmarks.
BUILDING CITIES BEYOND REALITY
Working as an illustrator in an architecture company means imagining the look of the city within 10, 20 or even 30 years. Simon draws future Tokyo and Tokyo’s future and sees the city change on paper first, before the changes are set in motion. “I love witnessing architecture illustrations slowly becoming reality around me” — he says. He is happy to contribute to a team of dedicated illustrators whose input can sometimes even influence the cityscape.
Credit: @Simon Kalajdjiev
Architecture plays a big part in Simon’s original stories and artwork, as he sometimes designs and draws fictional fantastic cities. He says that Tokyo is an everyday opportunity and inspiration for the thirsty observer. “This city is exactly where I want to be,” he concludes.
Feeling inspired to explore Tokyo’s architecture? We have prepared two step-by-step walking tours – Art & Architecture-Spotting Tours by WAttention
WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE
Zoria is a writer, of the rare poet variety and a passionate photographer. If you see somebody around Tokyo taking photos of concrete walls, it must be her. She loves to dress fashionably and go drink as many cups of coffee as humanly possible, preferably in cafes with a view.