Lee Basford - Art Director in Tokyo

Lee Basford

I'm an art director in Tokyo, Japan

Available for contracts

I speak English

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My activity

About me

I'm an art director, designer and photographer working in and around the overlap of art and design, blending these disciplines to create work for arts, film, fashion, video games and music companies that include Sony, Uniqlo, Nike, Rapha, Capcom, Sega, EMI, Parlophone, Saatchi, and Artificial Eye.

Over the years, I've written, illustrated, and photographed for Paper-Sky, Dazed and Confused, Tokion, Level and designed typefaces for T26 and Fountain fonts. Since 2000 I've exhibited both as a solo artist and collectively in England, Japan, USA, Germany, China and Ireland. My work has featured in numerous books and design journals, including; Creative Review, +81, 200% Cotton, The 3D Type Book, Cutting Edge Illustration, Concrete 2 Canvas and Graphic Britain.

In 2007 I was invited by UNIQLO to their Creative Awards ceremony in Japan where I received a Judges Choice Award and was more recently invited to take part in the Lightning Bolts + Innovation Art Show curated by Nike and debuting at the Beijing Olympics.

My Creations

  1. GAS as Interface are multifaceted company based in Tokyo that bring together the creativity of artists with the needs of business. For almost 20 years they have published books, curated exhibitions and worked together with global companies like UNIQLO, The North Face, Casio and Collette to produce innovative campaigns and... continue reading (0, 1 image)

  2. Working with the detailed photography of Francesc Guillamet, simplicity was important but also retaining an element of fun and the human side of things found in the experimentation of the restaurants work.

  3. The client was looking for an interesting design solution for the UK market, to appeal to the arthouse audience while still retaining a commercial edge. With only a low-res foreign poster as a starting point I decided to use illustration to make up for the lack of imagery; utilising traditional... continue reading (0, 1 image)

  4. A T shirt design for the Japanese Fashion company Adam et Ropé. Produced in a limited edition as part of their art series, the t-shirt was packaged in a signed and numbered box in an edition of 60 which included a poster and artists book.

  5. We were asked by UNIQLO to create six designs for their Nippon-Omiyage T-shirt lineup, the first in the series were Tokyo, Ginza and Kobe, all using handmade typography and a connection to the location itself. The second set of designs were based less on places with the first two focusing... continue reading (0, 1 image)

  6. This collection brings together Bruce Springsteen's first seven studio albums, featuring eight CDs in mini LP sleeves.

  7. Accompanied by Daisuke Kitayama, Akira Sekine and Mitsukuni Sato. I had the privilege of being invited to ride in Tohoku as part of an annual memorial since the first Rapha Continental ride in 2012 to produce a photo story
    Today marks the fourth year since the east coast of Japan... continue reading (0, 1 image)

  8. Biwakoguma: Osaka to Tokyo

    14 October 2015

    Riding a handmade bicycle is something special; riding a steel frame made with your own hands takes things to an entirely different level. In a photo story for Rapha I followed Tsuyoshi Ishizu, Japanese frame builder, cycling from Osaka to Tokyo with his 10-year-old son to test one of his... continue reading (0, 1 image)

  9. It's always a privilege to see work in print. I worked on a series of photographs in the new issue of Papersky with Rapha, documenting three cyclists exploring 'Their' Tokyo and what this city means to them
    You can see the full stories in Papersky magazine along with individual maps... continue reading (0, 1 image)

  10. Rapha Cyclocross Nobeyama

    9 December 2016

    I visited Rapha’s Supercross series Nobeyama last weekend, Japan’s highest town, nestled in the Yatsugatake Mountains at an altitude of 1,345m. Now in its seventh year, the event began with fresh snow and freezing temperatures and ended in torrential rain for the UCI Elite races, where the mud became so... continue reading (0, 1 image)

  11. Rapha: Return to Tohoku

    15 March 2016

    I wasn't in Japan in 2011 when the earthquake struck but received a panicked phone call during the initial aftershocks. A few months after the tsunami I was able to visit Tohoku to take aid and supplies. The scene then was shocking; debris, twisted cars and remnants of what used... continue reading (1, 1 image)

  12. Between 14th-16th April, 2016, a series of earthquakes hit Kumamoto on the far-west island of Kyushu. In response, Rapha Japan took their Mobile Cycle Club to locations across the country to raise funds for the area that hosted Rapha's Prestige ride in Oguni back in 2013.

    The final two days... continue reading (0, 1 image)

  13. Rapha Rides: Tokyo

    30 June 2017
    Rapha Rides: Tokyo

    Rapha is travelling to 20 cities around the world to uncover the local knowledge, the shortcuts, the places to visit, and the roads to ride. I worked on the design, wr...

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  14. Tour de Tohoku: The Road to Here

    My exhibition, 'Tour de Tohoku: The Road to Here' started on Saturday at Paul Smith SPACE in Omotesando. I've visited the Tohoku region many times, cycling and taking ...

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  15. Nobeyama Supercross

    5 December 2017
    Nobeyama Supercross

    I visited Rapha’s Supercross series Nobeyama last weekend, Japan’s highest town where cyclocross in minus temperatures is a lung-searing experience. With unpredictable...

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  16. Rapha Rides Osaka

    20 February 2018
    Rapha Rides Osaka

    Last year Rapha is traveled to 20 cities around the world to uncover the local knowledge, the shortcuts, the places to visit, and the roads to ride. I worked on the de...

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  17. Rapha Rides Kyushu

    26 June 2018
    Rapha Rides Kyushu

    "Fukuoka is a tightly packed city. If you cycle out for 30 minutes, you can reach the shining turquoise ocean of Itoshima and the alluring roads of Mt. Sefuri" Atsushi...

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  18. Nimmo, Album Campaign

    17 July 2018
    Nimmo, Album Campaign

    Taking the reoccurring shapes in the bands name as an initial reference point we created a series of energetic line paintings using a selection of vibrant colours, eac...

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  19. STRAVA – Must Do Rides: Tokyo

    When I was asked by Strava to share one of Tokyo’s ‘must do rides', shoot and ride it with friends. I wanted it to cover all the things I love about the mountains surr...

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  20. Danner Light 40th Anniversary

    In a continuing series of work for Danner boots in Portland, celebrating 40 years since the introduction of their groundbreaking 'Danner Light' and the invention of th...

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  21. Vladimir Balahovsky / Equilibrium Cycleworks

    A new series of photographs documenting Vladimir Balahovsky, a handmade bicycle maker in his Tokyo workshop. Originally growing up in a Russian-speaking region of Latv...

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  22. Postcards from Paul

    28 January 2020
    Postcards from Paul

    I spent the day photographing Paul Smith during filming in Tokyo for his 'Postcards From…' series. A city that has been a source of limitless inspiration since his fir...

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  23. Paul Smith Red Ear

    31 January 2020
    Paul Smith Red Ear

    Photography shot in Tokyo for Paul Smith's Red Ear collection. Inspired by the aesthetics of traditional Japanese layering, the kimono and judo gi's. The range has had...

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  24. Polypunk: Love

    1 May 2020
    Polypunk: Love

    Project from the archive for Digiki - Working together with Jonathan Costello we created the physical heart from pieces of metal, cut-up and just beginning to rust. Th...

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  25. Hobson's Choice, Birmingham Royal Ballet

    Design for the Birmingham Royal Ballet, as part of their Pointe Blank series. Using watercolours to produce a completely typographic design, taking selected lines from...

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  26. Tokyo Playground

    19 August 2020
    Tokyo Playground

    During Tokyo’s initial voluntary lockdown earlier this year, it’s parks and playgrounds were cordoned off to varying degrees. Depending on the location, some remained ...

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  27. Strava: Tokyo Tree Trek

    18 September 2020
    Strava: Tokyo Tree Trek

    First impressions of Tokyo’s vast urban landscape can be overwhelming, often filled with a stereotypical view of the most populated city on earth. But beyond the brigh...

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  28. Mystical Miles

    14 April 2021
    Mystical Miles

    New work for issue 1 of Mystical Miles, a new magazine from the Netherlands exploring running's many guises. In search of untold stories and beautiful photography from...

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