Shigeo Fukuda “a designer of optical illusions“ – Hui Xu

Shigeo Fukuda is a Japanese graphic designer who was born in February 4,1932 and died on January 11, 2009. His poster combines the cultures of the East and the west, showing a strong sense of humour. He is good at using side by side, visual puns and supernaturalistic style (Guy 2004). Not only that, but most of his posters are also famous for their harsh anti-war and environmental advocacy posters, which refine complex concepts into attractive logos and simple images (Steven 2009). It is because these simple patterns can really express the theme of the shocking posters so that Fukuda in Japan and even the world’s attention. Shigeo Fukuda was the first Japanese designer to be inducted into the hall of fame of the New York Art Directors Club.

Shigeo Fukuda (福田 繁雄, February 4, 1932 – January 11, 2009) was one of the most famous graphic designers in Japan)

In the 1960s, Fukuda became interested in illusionist and he drew an illustration for the daily Ashai Newspaper visual magic column called “Ryu Mita Ka? ( “Did you see the dragon? “) (ADC Global)  In an interview with Idea Magazine, he explained the motivation behind his technology:

“I believe that in design, 30% dignity, 20% beauty and 50% absurdity are necessary. Rather than catering to the design sensitivity of the general public, there is advancement in design if people are left to feel satisfied with their own superiority, by entrapping them with visual illusion.”

"Victory 1945" is one of  the most famous poster by Shigeo Fukuda.
“Victory 1945” is one of the most famous posters by Shigeo Fukuda. (1975)

Among his works, Victory 1945 is the most famous. There is only one barrel in this poster. The barrel head is different from the ordinary barrel.  It faces the opening, like to seal the barrel. This poster Although the symbol of war is used, it is a satire on the meaning of war. Shigeo Fukuda chose to express his looking forward to peace in simple patterns.

When the Western graphic culture had reached its peak and gradually commercialized, Fukuda’s posters full of Japanese culture and Western combination can be said to be a new understanding of Japanese culture for the west or a collision between cultures. Different from western culture, Japanese culture is more emotional in rational communication. Also, he developed a simple style, which in his posters is like using a kind of magic, making people’s eyes produce an optical illusion. He created a new trend of visual illusion and became a classic at the same time.

His posters are famous for their style of optical illusion.
His posters are famous for the style of optical illusion.
Images of Illusion, 1984



Work Cited

“Fukuda, Shigeo (b. 1932).” In The Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Design Since 1900, by Guy Julier. 2nd ed. Thames & Hudson, 2004.

Heller, Steven. “Shigeo Fukuda, Graphic Designer, Dies at 76.” The New York Times. The New York Times, January 20, 2009.

“Shigeo Fukuda.” ADC. Accessed April 3, 2020.

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