If he’s not brainstorming for new designs or using his graphic tablet, Vasilis is packing his suitcase and travelling. When he has time off from his work as a graphic design specialist at Laura Canada, he takes the opportunity to get inspired by new places. His most recent trip: 48 hours in Japan.
Where have you travelled in the past year?
I went to Greece in May and in August. But that doesn’t really count as I’m Greek and I was visiting home, right? Then I went to Vancouver and Maui in June and Japan in December.
How do you balance travelling with a full-time job?
I travel on my days off and on holidays so it doesn’t interfere with my work. There have been times when I’ll show up to work in my “travelling” pants, bags in the trunk of my car and ready to take off (literally) once the working day is over.
How do your travels generally influence your work?
Travelling is always a great source of inspiration. New museums, local artists, street art, stores, local advertising, a city’s unique rhythm and fashion, even a restaurant’s menu are all very fascinating to look at for the first time. Disrupting your everyday visual routine with new input is important for any creative professional. And of course, getting a refreshing break from work always helps.
Tell us a little bit about your recent trip to Japan. How did you make 48 hours in the country worthwhile?
I had done a lot of research beforehand and was at peace with the fact that 48 hours would only allow me to catch a glimpse of this amazing country. Our base was Yokohama, which admittedly we didn’t see as much of as we thought because we prioritized Tokyo. We had a carefully planned route, starting with Shibuya and the famously busy intersection, then walking down the quirky and colourful Takeshita Street in Harajuku, having lunch in the buzzing neighbourhood of Shinjuku and paying our respects at Sensō-ji Temple that was packed with tourists and locals—many in traditional dress. We ended the day in Tokyo with panoramic views from the top of Tokyo Skytree.
All in all, we were happy (and exhausted) as we got to experience Japanese popular and traditional culture, local cuisine and see spectacular views all in one day.
From left to right : Ichiran Ramen restaurant and a panoramic view of Tokyo during sunset ;
the Asahi Flame building and the Sensō-ji temple
Can you tell us about your favourite part of the trip?
I was there for such a short time that it was not enough to choose favourites. The Japanese are extremely kind and structured and that immediately rubs off on you. I caught myself bowing slightly every time I would greet someone and saying arigato gozaimasu (thank you very much in English) in every other sentence. Even though most don’t speak English, every single person we met did their best to give directions, suggest a restaurant or explain a menu. Structure and discipline are part of their culture. Queues are kept religiously. Restaurants have rows of chairs for people to sit and wait for their tables, train docks are specifically designed for long queues, even in front of elevators the Japanese form single file lines and wait patiently. All public spaces are spotless, public transportation runs like clockwork and even street art seems to be well planned.
What restaurants would you recommend?
Ichiran Ramen in Shinjuku was our absolute favourite restaurant. Not only was the ramen delicious, but the whole dining experience was a unique treat. Everyone gets their own mini, confessional-like booth with a small window facing the kitchen, through which you’re served your food. Once you have everything, the waitress takes a deep bow and lowers a wicker blind for your privacy.
Kakuyoshi Sky Tree Station Ekimae (a literal translation from Japanese 角吉 とうきょうスカイツリー駅前店) in Sumida is a great yakitori restaurant. Japanese BBQ is popular in Tokyo and these restaurants are usually very busy. And of course, any sushi restaurant! I don’t think you can go wrong with sushi in Japan!
How will your recent trip influence your graphic work for the season?
Japan offered so many different visual experiences and sparked numerous ideas for experimenting with colour, composition and typography.
Where would you like to travel next?
Australia is a dream destination, but definitely for longer than just 48 hours!