My series of life-sized pictures of bulls took up to eight weeks each to complete. Every one was like running a marathon, and the trick was to save the good bits, like the head, till last. I'm now doing large drawings of ducks' nests.
How did you get the job?
I put up a bit of resistance, but it was probably predestined.
I did history at university, but I was drawing all the time. My father is an artist and I was an apprentice to him as a child - I'd stretch up canvases and learn the business side. After college, I worked from 10am until 11pm six days a week at a firm of Tokyo architects doing drawings.
I used to go down to the fish market before work to draw still life.
Does reality match the dream?
It's not all romance. If you're going to be a professional artist you've got to accept that there will be long periods of solitude, interspersed with startling bouts of exposure when you show your work to the world for approval. This can be very destabilising because after all the action you're then back in the studio for long months alone again, breathing in the charcoal dust. But it's an extraordinary lifestyle. Who else gets to measure rhinos with a tape measure at London zoo?