Now Introducing: Tadanori Yokoo

 

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Tadanori Yooko is one of Japan’s most highly recognized graphic designers and artist. He was originally trained as a painter and worked as a stage designer for a Tokyo based Avante Garde theatre. Tadanoori’s work was often very personal, reflecting his own personal interests. Beginning his graphic design career in the early 1960s, Tadanoori incorporated both eastern and western styles into his work to reflect a collective of Japanese society at the time. Tadanoori’s early work was heavily influenced by ukiyo-e style and the flat colours of pop art; which he incorporated with photography. Because of the major influence of pop art in his work at the time, many referred to him as the “Japanese Andy Warhol”. Towards the late 1960s and early 1970s, Tadanoori grew interest in Indian culture and Bhuddism, incorporated many religious and universal images in his work. He designed many album covers for rock and folk musicians who he became acquainted with through his “spiritual quest”; including the Beatles, Emerson, Lake and Palmers, Carlos Santanas and Cat Stevens. In the 1990s, Tadanoori began incorporating digital design in his work. He even went through his old work and reworked them digitally. A large exhibition of Tadanoori’s work was held in 1998 with over forty thousand in attendance over a thirteen day period. Tadanoori retired working commercially in 1981.

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Koshimaki-Osen, 1966 and The Rose-Colored Dance, A La Maison De M. Civecawa 1966

Tadanoori’s work is high personal, even in his commercial work. He incorporates his own personal themes, photographs and references his own anti-modernist style in his work, making it immediately recognizable. His work often teeters between fine art and design, having no limitations or rules in his work, with inspiration from Japan aesthetics, psychedelics, science fiction and spiritualism.

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The City and Design, The Wonders of Life on Earth, Isamu Kurita, 1966

Works Cited

Tadanori Yokoo

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/people/18054231/bio

http://www.designishistory.com/1960/tadanori-yokoo/

https://www.moma.org/artists/6502?locale=en

https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/ey-exhibition-world-goes-pop/artist-biography/tadanori-yokoo

Design Inspiration

Design Inspiration – Blog Post 2

Jim Fitzpatrick was an Irish artist whose work included very intricate illustrations, inspired by Celtic methodology; however, his one very famous piece stands apart from his usual artwork he produced. His poster “Viva Che” released in 1968, and has been known as one of the top 10 most iconic images.

Jim Fitzpatrick idolized Guevara and the artist had met Che Guevara himself in 1962 while working at bar. When Fitzpatrick heard of Guevara’s death in Bolivia, he outlined the image of Guevara that was taken by Korda (Fidel Castro’s official photographer) using a process called “line drop” and put the image above a red background. Creating a monotone image with only red and black as the main colors, he drew the star in yellow with a felt-tip pen. The poster became an iconic image of the anti-Vietnamese war protests worldwide and used by many.

In an interview, Jim states that his artwork “Viva che” was making a statement of outrage at the murder of Che Guevara, a Cuban revolutionist and to keep his memory.

Barack Obama’s “HOPE” poster designed by Shepard Fairey in 2008 for Obama’s presidential campaign is another very famous piece of political artwork used by many of his supporters and became the primary image for the campaign.

Like Fitzpatrick’s poster, Fairey has only the face as the focal point to create an impact of a solitary figure with only three colors. Fairey however, added singular words as promise or hope in the poster.

Obama’s gaze, the imagery, simplicity and the two poster’s flat graphic treatment is a strong reminiscent of Jim Fitzpatrick’s Viva Che. As stated by Laura Barton from The Guardian, “…it has acquired the kind of instant recognition of Jim Fitzpatrick’s Che Guevara poster, and is surely set to grace T-shirts, coffee mugs and the walls of student bedrooms in the years to come.”

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Works Cited:

n.d. <https://www.jimfitzpatrick.com/product/viva-che/>.

Barton, Laura. November 2008. The Guardian. <https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2008/nov/10/barackobama-usa>.

Tipton, Gemma. Feburary 2011. Irish Times. <https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/art-and-design/visual-art/the-irish-artist-who-captured-the-image-of-che-guevara-1.576934>

Design Inspiration

Guerilla Girls, Naked poster, 1989 vs Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Large Odalisque, 1814

 

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Large Odalisque, 1814
Guerilla Girls, Naked poster, 1989

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Guerilla Girls used parody – satire to comment on the serious nature and rationale of the original – in their Naked poster, 1989, by appropriating Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ Large Odalisque, 1814. They clearly keep the exact pose and body of the woman in the original, but transform her into a grotesque ape. The intention is to manipulate the original as a means of revealing the ugly sexism of art and museums. The use of parody was one of the postmodern art movement’s ways of deconstructing the dominant narratives that been so prevalent in art and design up until the 1980s.

Works Cited
Eggebeen, Janna. VISD-2006: Graphic Design History. 5, Apr. 2019, Ontario College of Art and Design, Toronto. Class lecture.

Emil, Krén, and Daniel Marx. “The Grand Odalisque.” Web Gallery of Art, www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/i/ingres/05ingres.html.

Tate. “’Do Women Have To Be Naked To Get Into the Met. Museum?’, Guerrilla Girls, 1989.” Tate, www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/guerrilla-girls-do-women-have-to-be-naked-to-get-into-the-met-museum-p78793

Now Introducing: Tadanori Yokoo

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Tadanori Yokoo is a Japanese graphic designer that came up during the avant-garde era of Japan in the 1960s. He is often compared to Andy Warhol with his bright, pop art like designs (Shiner, “Tadanori Yokoo in Conversation with Eric Shiner.”). He is one of the most famous Eastern-Asian graphic designers and has not only influenced the Japanese graphic design scene but also the American.

Tadanori Yokoo was adopted and raised in an urban Japan setting by an elderly couple. His adoptive parents owned a kimono fabric making company (Corkill, “Tadanori Yokoo: An Artist by Design.”). He had always been interested in drawing as a child and throughout his adolescence naturally gravitated towards graphic design. During his childhood he would copy images and often drew historical characters that he saw in books (Corkill, “Tadanori Yokoo: An Artist by Design.”). His graphic designs where very much inspired by the traditional patterns of the kimonos and he incorporated many of the traditional art and designs of Japan in his work. Many of his graphic designs also showcase images of children’s card games that were played a lot before the war (Corkill, “Tadanori Yokoo: An Artist by Design.”). In many ways he went against modernism with the type of graphic designs he created. Modernism at the time was the most popular and focused on simplicity and function of a design (Corkill, “Tadanori Yokoo: An Artist by Design.”). This made him unique compared to other designers and lead to many works for filmmakers and playwrights.

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Yokoo was also taking inspiration from western graphic design and began mixing those elements with his tradition and decorative Japanese elements. His work began to welcome psychedelic and pop art elements. Transitioning him into a style that dubbed him as “The Japanese Warhol” (Shiner, “Tadanori Yokoo in Conversation with Eric Shiner.”). He broke into the American graphic design scene and became a very well known and praised graphic designer; creating designs for albums, posters, magazine covers and advertisements. His perfectly blended style of western and eastern design left him a unique and influential artist. He had been praised and gained critical acclaim (Shiner, “Tadanori Yokoo in Conversation with Eric Shiner.”).

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Yokoo would be a great addition to the textbook. It is almost shocking that he isn’t. He is such a well known and influential designer, even in western culture. He has done a lot of work in America and joined the inner circles of top graphic designers. It was even in America where he decided to go from graphic design into fine art and decided to showcase his exhibition in New York. With such great influence and prevalence in graphic design and art, he should definitely be talked about when discussing graphic design history. The textbook’s focus is supposed to be about the history of graphic design, but it mostly focuses of the western and European graphic design culture and scene. It would be much better if the textbook would add more eastern designers to expand the book and showcase a more accurate history of graphic design though a global view.

 

Work Cited

Corkill, Edan. “Tadanori Yokoo: An Artist by Design.” The Japan Times, www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2011/08/07/people/an-artist-by-design/#.XKeGCJhyrZs.

Shiner, Eric. “Tadanori Yokoo in Conversation with Eric Shiner.” Whitewall, 12 May 2017, www.whitewall.art/art/tadanori-yokoo-in-conversation-with-eric-shiner.

Design Inspiration – Yoona Seo

During the 1960s, many independent graphic design firms sought to establish a new style of graphic design, perhaps as a way to find alternatives to the rigid International Style. The Push Pin Studio was a highly influential firm that was part of this new wave. Originally found by Reynold Ruffins, Edward Sorel, Seymour Chwast, and Milton Glaser, the Push Pin Studio explored of a vast range of visual styles by borrowing from many different art periods, combining both popular culture and the fine arts. Glaser and Chwast took the role for artistic direction at the firm, embarking a new perspective of design and style. While the International Style represented seriousness, the designers of the Push Pin Studio played with humour and caricatured drawings (Eskilson, 2012).

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Seymour Chwast, cover for The Push Pin Monthly Graphic, 1959

One major approach Glaser and Chwast took on their work was looking back to historical designs and adopting styles that appear dated or obsolete to see them in new light. For example, Chwast created a cover for the 1959 The Push Pin Monthly Graphic issue. The cover takes inspiration from an earlier work by Dada artist Tristan Tzara, Bulletin Dada (no. 6), a periodical produced in 1920. Tristan Tzara was a French-Romanian poet. He edited and published the journal Dada, with the intention to spread the revolutionary Dadaist views in Zurich and other European cities (Eskilson, 2012).

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Tristan Tzara, Bulletin Dada, no. 6, February, 1920

The top half of Tzara’s Bulletin Dada is taken up by the extremely large grotesque text ‘DADA’ and the bottom half is occupied by relatively smaller text and with more context and information. Some texts are overlapping each other and some texts lie diagonally across the page; it illustrates Dada’s nonsensical characteristic and a sense of improvisation and is realized here. The contrast in weight and different orientations of text create a sense of hierarchy. This in turn makes it easier to read the text in the disorganized and eccentric style Tzara depicts. He also used six to seven different typefaces, which also alludes to the dramatic and wackiness of the Dada aestethic.

Influenced by Tzara’s design, Chwast’s 1959 cover uses wooden type. Chwast differentiates his design from Tzara’s by aligning text in a narrow, vertical layout. As a result, a definitive hierarchy exists that leads the eye from top to bottom; the direction the artist intended for reading. The elongated and stretched letters ignore the rules of typography but coincide with the absurdity of Dada.

Dada was a social protest in response to WWI, as well as the European culture that cultivated it. It questioned bourgeois society and opened doors to a satirical style (Russell, 2012). In a similar way, The Push Pin Monthly Graphic was an investigation of different forms of graphic design to in a way, protest against certain schools of thought. As a matter of fact, The Push Pin Monthly Graphic was not a real periodical, but a platform for the studio’s artists to explore new styles. Rather than committing to one artistic movement or style, creative decisions were made based on what looked inspiring to them as artists of such bewildering expression.

Reference:

Eskilson, Stephen J. Graphic Design A New History. Yale. 2nd ed. New Haven, Connecticut. Published 2012.

Russell, C. “Dada.” The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, edited by Roland Green, et al., Princeton University Press, 4th edition, 2012. Credo Reference, http://ocadu.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/prpoetry/dada/0?institutionId=4079. Accessed 03 Apr. 2019.