Tokyo Colour-In

Chris Berthelsen runs a-small-lab. Based in Tokyo & Mairangi Bay, he combines 'research into creative climates for cities, organizations, humans and tools with practice in (non)design, making, publishing, and consulting'.

One of his latest projects is Tokyo Colour-In - a colouring-in book of Tokyo street art. Developed from the Tokyo street art research project, this intriguing tome was 'created to introduce little hands and minds to the fine-grained hand made aspects of human(e) creativity on the street'.



From a survey of 5,500 real examples of street art, spanning a broad area of Tokyo city, users of this book are encouraged to 'Add your own colours, lines and text and create new life amongst the debris of society. Realize that the city is not fixed by the violence of commercial development and the radical monopolization of space but actually a dynamic and fluid mix of ingredients and platforms for the human hand. Take this opportunity to sharpen your senses to another aspect of the hand made city'.

It is very apparent that the graffiti oeuvre is steadily forming a very credible niche within the art world, and through publications such as Tokyo Colour-In its mainstream acceptance now transcends the formative years of street art, which so often are depicted as mere acts of vandalism. Parallels can be drawn with movements such as Dadaism, eager to cruise the back roads of counter culture, as opposed to the more public thoroughfares of gallery fodder.

This presents a paradox; legitimising the practice might erode any sense of chaos. Will colouring-in blank-out the bigger picture? Or will these early-learners extract some tangible benefits from sampling creativity on the cutting edge?