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"I sketch from life

to see better,

to understand better

and to enjoy life!"

Mike Daikubara began carrying a sketchbook in 2000 to be able to communicate better and faster at his design day job. Now he sketches daily to see, understand and enjoy! A Japanese-American, Mike grew up in Tokyo and New York City attending an International school with kids from all over the world.
He is an Industrial Designer with over 20 years of experience in various industries such as Cosmetics, Consumer Electronics, Bath/Kitchen Products, Medical, Juvenile industry and Major Appliances for the home.
He currently lives in Charlotte NC with his wife and 2 Bengal cats, Tenten and Totora.


What is Urban Sketching?

Urban sketching in the simplest term is the act of drawing on-location from direct observation. It was originally started by Gabi Campanario in 2007 where he created an online forum "for all sketchers out there who love to draw the cities where they live and visit, from the window of their homes, from a cafe, at a park, standing by a street corner... always on location, not from photos or memory.”
Urban Sketchers is now an international nonprofit dedicated to fostering a global community of artists who practice on-location drawing.
For more info, check out:


Why do you like to Urban Sketch?

I originally started sketching in 2000 to be able to communicate better and faster at my Industrial design day job. Now I continue to sketch purely for the pleasure of it since sketching allows me to fully live that moment in the present. It allows me to see and understand better and most of all it makes me feel better. I just can't stop doing it now and it's a pure addiction!

Do you sketch as a hobby or for work?

Sketching is currently a hobby and a passion of mine but I do believe that the act of daily observation makes me a better designer.

What sketching tools do you use?

My sketching kit is quite minimal. Most of my sketches are made with these 5 tools:
  1. Sketchbook: Stillman & Birn Alpha series (and sometime the Beta series)
  2. Fountain Pen
    1. Pen: Sailor 1911 Naginata Fude de Mannen (Model discontinued)
    2. Ink: Noodler's Lexington Grey
  3. Watercolor Kit
    1. Outer Case: Sakura Koi
    2. Palette: Custom (See link)
    3. Pigment: Holbein
  4. Water brush: Pentel Mini
  5. Spray Mister: Ranger mini mister. Used to bring the colors back to life when they're fully dried up, but also used as back up water for the water brush)
  6. (Not shown). Instead of 5, I typically carry a Sakura white Gel pen for adding highlights to my sketch.
Amazon links to recommended sketching tools:

Do you have any recommendations for anyone wanting to start Urban Sketching?

As simple as it might sound, I recommend buying a sketchbook and a pen (non erasable medium) and drawing anything and everything around you in your daily life. It’s better to draw 5 minutes everyday than drawing one long session just once a week. If you would like to learn more in-depth tips/tricks/thoughts about it, I wrote a whole book dedicated to this subject called “Sketch NOW think later” and it's available in 3 languages. (English/ Spanish/ Portuguese)

Is it OK to line sketch on-location and then color later on?
Is this still considered Urban Sketching?

Sketching from life captures much more than what is seen. It can capture the atmosphere through smell, sound, overheard conversations, various events that might have taken place during your sketching time etc and when you look at your sketch later on, you'll be surprised by the fact that all of those feelings will come back to life! This is the reason why I can't stop Urban Sketching and try to finish as much as possible on-location including the coloring but not all situations allows me to do this. I might run out of time due to having to go to my next appointment, or weather condition changes, or the subject (e.g. person) I was sketching might have gotten up and left etc. In these situations, I think it's OK to color later on to finish.
I think if you always plan on finishing your sketch later and not finishing on-location, you maybe missing out on an opportunity to fully experience what the sketch could be.


Do you teach or do workshops on sketching?

Yes, and I love teaching! (Check out my Workshop page for past workshop information).
In the past I've had the privilege to teach at 3 international Urban Sketching Symposiums, and also have taught in Boston and Chicago numerous times. It's a complete blast and I love it!
I'm aiming to do at least 1 workshop a year somewhere in the world.

Why do you sketch your food?

I love food! I have no dietary restrictions and will eat anything aside from bad food :)  I also sketch the food since it allows me to visually and intellectually enjoy what I'm about to put into my mouth.  I also sketch my food a lot since I might not have the time to sketch other subjects during the day and meal time might be the only time I have available (since we all need to eat)

Do you take commissions?

I especially love working with restaurants and have worked with numerous restaurants in the past where I was invited to come eat, and in exchange I provided a sketch with a story to be shared via social media. All of the restaurants I worked with were amazing and I had a great time since I always sketch and write the truth. I love working with local/smaller business' especially if they're good and if I could even help a bit in getting the word out. I have also created custom artworks for some of these restaurants too.
I also work with anyone looking for original art work in pen/ink & Watercolor.
If you are interested, I would love to hear back from you!

What is the name/brand of your sketching bag shown inside your book “Sketch NOW think later”?

The bag is made by a company in San Francisco called DSPTCH. It's a great looking bag that's also very robust. I highly recommend it.

Where can I find more information on your custom Watercolor palette shown in the book?

For more information, Click here.
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