Nobu Sakagawa, 38

Tompkins Square Park.


Photograph: Jay Muhlin

What are you up to? Visiting from Sydney. I'm from Japan but I've lived in Australia for 13 years. My English is still not good!

What do you do? I'm painter. But I have full-time job at a credit card company. I do fraud prevention analysis.

Do people ever try to claim they didn't make a purchase when they actually did? Yeah, some people who are having affair. [Laughs]

Are you a hipster? Um, is hipster mean cool?

Kind of too cool. When I was young, I would always think, When will I stop being interested in fashion or music? Like, maybe after 30 years old or something? But I'm still interested in finding lots of new musics and new fashion. That makes me keep young.

Why did you leave Japan for Australia? Actually, I was going to America. I was in punk-grunge band.

You are a hipster! [Laughs] Yeah, I played guitar and bass. So we decided to go to America. We applied for student visa and got rejected. I don't know why, but at the time lots of terrorism was happening in Japan.

And they were suspicious of you? Yes, I look little bit like criminal. [Laughs] So then the singer said, "I quit band." So I said, "Ohh, okay. Maybe I go to India." And within a week, I went. There, I met really nice people from Australia. Very easygoing and totally different. So I thought, Oh, Australia, okay.

And you stayed. Yeah. It was totally accident.

More from Nobu

"Before I came to Australia, I hated Japan, but now I find lots of nice places in Japan. If you're living outside your country, you find out how good your country is."

"I make, like, posters and flyers, mostly if my friends ask me to do something. They pay me later or they can get me a free ticket for the concert."

"Walking in New York is like walking in the museum. I find lots of artwork on the street. I really like when people just put eyes and mouth on an object to, like, make face. In Sydney there is lots of blank space that you can make faces on. In New York it's already got some eyes and mouth; someone's done it already!"