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It was a happy day when we stumbled into Luis Mendo through the byways of social networking. We were beguiled by his wonderful illustrations on instagram and his City Reporter series revealed a shared fascination with urban life. A plan was hatched for Luis to write, illustrate and design our first Tokyo guide and the result was Tokyo: A very brief introduction. Luis kindly agreed to take the time to tell us more about himself.

What is your favourite journey?
Mostly anything urban where I meet people and see things I hadn’t expected. There’s a reason I don’t enjoy travelling to quiet places like mountains and woods, and that’s because I don’t understand what I see. A tree is a tree for me, although I might be passing by an extremely rare kind of tree. In the city, on the contrary, I can understand the urban language and appreciate the nuances, the details in so many things: clothes, cars, traffic lights, but also accents, behaviours, light changes… I enjoy it most when all these things are different to the place I live.

Tell us about your three favourite places?
Without a doubt number one the Aoyama Cemetery in Tokyo in cherry blossom time. The view of the central road, where traffic is allowed and people go up and down all day, covered with the blossom flowers in the air as if it was snowing but of course it was spring, has kept me captivated for three years.

Another one would be a street in Paris, don’t remember which one, where we walked once and when I turned around, the Eiffel Tower came out of nowhere, we were really close but hadn’t seen it until that point, and it struck me by its beauty.

And the third one is, for sentimental reasons, the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madríd. It’s a cultural centre nicely situated in the Calle de Alcalá and from the café you can see my favourite Madrid corner: the Metropolis building, with a beautiful Fallen Angel statue at the top. This corner is what brought a small town boy like me to live and study in Madrid: the feeling of being in a place where things happen.

Today it’s not such an exciting place, were it not because of the upper deck of the building, where you can see the roofs of Madrid.

Who are your design heroes?
The times when designers were artisans interest me the most. I am not a designer who goes to congresses and am not up to date on the latest things. I live my professional life sucking from other sources than the design world itself: art, illustration, underground trends in clothes and food, etc interest me more than the last trendy designer. Hence my admiration is for people like Tibor Kalman, Milton Glaser, Jan Tschihold and Herb Lubalin. Mainly people who also could draw and applied that to their designs. From more modern times I’d highlight Stefan Sagmeister because I know how his mind works and love the way he continued Kalman’s heritage and made it his own.

What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received?
“Don’t start your own company, you won’t be able to manage it and get lost in the paperwork”
I am still laughing and happy I didn’t listen.

What’s the worst worst advice you’ve ever given?
All advice is autobiographical, hence they are all quite bad since they only speak about your experience, not about what is going to work or not. When I give advice, I try to make this very clear before I tell them what my experience was and what I’d do in their shoes.

A favourite motto or phrase.
You already have a no. You can always get a yes.
And dozens of others I can never remember.

Published 23 April 2013

Our guides are printed in England on 100% recycled paper