I’m a hopeless idealist from Texas with a bike and a ballpoint pen.
What brought you to Japan?
A little over two years ago I decided to follow a good friend over here to teach English as part of the JET Program.
In the spring you released an art book called Japan 365: A Drawing-A-Day Project. What was your inspiration for it?
A friend who makes music under the name Ubey created an electronic music track every day in 2010. One day after arriving in Japan, I was riding my bike in the mountains and was intoxicated by the timeless beauty of the Japanese countryside. I decided to borrow his 365 idea and draw one Japan-inspired ballpoint pen picture every day last year from January 1 to December 31.
How did you decide what to draw each day?
Japan is oozing with inspiration through its landscape, changing seasons, art, history, culture, food, style and inhabitants’ many personalities. Often through conversations with locals, I learned something new and that evolved into each day’s drawing. The drawings took anywhere from two minutes to six hours to make.
A portion of your book sales is being donated to charity. What charity did you choose?
Ten percent of the profit for Japan 365: A Drawing-A-Day Project is being donated to Japan for Sustainability (www.japanfs.org/en). It is a grassroots NPO that works to share environmental initiatives toward sustainability worldwide.
You’re currently cycling across Japan as part of BEE (Bicycle for Everyone’s Earth). Tell us about it.
BEE is a 4,000 kilometer bike ride from one end of Japan to the other that was started 15 years ago by former JET teachers. The purpose of BEE is to raise money and awareness for the environment and sustainable living. I’m traveling with four Japanese people, and money from our ride is also being donated to Japan for Sustainability.
How did you prepare for the trip?
Before riding for BEE, I lived in a small fishing and farming village on the Tango Peninsula in Kyoto. For the last year I rode my bike to work each day, and the commute was about 12km each way. There were often strong winds coming in off the Sea of Japan, some serious steep climbs and wild monkeys. The ride was especially tough in snowy, icy conditions.
How can people support the project?
We’re selling jerseys and T-shirts while on the road. We also have an online fundraising page. For those without the means to offer financial support, come out and ride with us! Whether it’s for an afternoon or a week, we always welcome company.