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.
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.”).
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.
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.