For this article in the international artist series, we turn to Japan, featuring seven artists who create fantastic work, from illustrations to wooden sculptures and more! I asked each artist how their country and culture inspired their work, and they delivered fantastic answers. Enjoy!
Yoshitoshi is a sculptor based in Chiba, Japan. His work features surreal wooden sculptures full of symbolism and mystery that are sure to make your head spin. Check out a small selection of his work below, or see more in his portfolio.
In Japan where I live, there is a woodworking culture which I can see in the architecture that I love. I also love that the Japanese climate has four seasons because they cultivate the woods which I need for my wooden sculptures.
In Japan, there are cultures developed independently. From Buddhist flowing arts, to contemporary manga and animation. While we accept the influence of overseas culture, we have the flexibility to replace it with something specific to Japan. I think that such a unique hybrid breathes life into my creations.
Japan is an isolated island so our art is very unique and distant from the context of Western arts in regionalism, the linguistic sense, and overall religious views. However, I feel as a human being, common universal themes can be shared with all foreign people.
Robert is a CG designer based in Tokyo, Japan. His work features exceptional 3D visuals that are simply out of this world. Check out a small selection of his work below, or see more in his portfolio.
Everydays - March 2016
I love how Japan is safe. Everyone is polite.
Everydays - May 2016
Working in Japan with late hours and overtime is the norm so I have learned to work really efficient because of the lack of time here. I get inspired by walking around Tokyo. I love seeing giant buildings with big geometric shapes as well as the contrast of small temples and shrines splashed in between ultra modern areas.
Everydays - June 2016
Everydays - October 2016
I am not super connected with the art community but it seems to be booming. A lot of people have great hobbies here. You can see people painting or practicing dance or an instrument in the various parks around Tokyo.
Seimi is a freelance illustrator and designer based in Tokyo, Japan. Her work features colorful imagery inspired by her love of cartoons and cute monsters. Check out a small selection of her work below, or see more in her portfolio.
Illustrations ZINE - Juicy Monster
Japan is rich in nature and you can feel the change of the four seasons throughout the year. It gives artists a lot of inspiration. From fashion, to food and architecture, all of the Japanese culture is inspired by nature so we always feel as though we're living with it.
Illustrations ZINE - Twins Ghost
I was brought up in Okinawa, Japan. It is a distinctive area where cultures all over the world merged. This unique, cultural style contributed many beautiful things to my own creations.
New Year Card 2015
I feel that there are so many excellent artists in Japan. Therefore, it is a difficult place to obtain work. For this reason, many designers and artists in Japan feel they need to expand their activities to include work from overseas.
Kyoko is a freelance illustrator based in Tokyo, Japan. Her work features a sweet and simplistic illustration style adorning book covers, calendars, and so much more. Check out a small selection of her work below, or see more in her portfolio.
Book Cover Illustration
Japan is quite safe. It's the best thing about living here. Even in Tokyo with a 13.6 million population the crime rate is still very low. The food, nature, and natural hot springs are some of my favorite things in Japan.
Minolta Hi Matic 7s
I was born in Tokyo and work now as a freelance illustrator mainly for books. About 80% of the Japanese publishers are here in Tokyo and new books are published almost every day. It's very exciting because I often go to meetings at different companies at the center of the Japanese publishing world. Although I want to work more internationally, Japan is a good place to keep my motivation up.
There are so many art communities here and they are very active. You can easily find art exhibitions or art events especially in Tokyo.
Yasushi is a freelance illustrator and picture book writer based in Tokyo, Japan. His work features charming illustrations in a unique minimalist style. Check out a small selection of his work below, or see more in his portfolio.
I love the temples and shrines in Japan. Especially the Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji, Kiyomizudera, and old the wooden buildings. I also love the Japanese food culture.
Japanese design is simple and I like it. It is affected by many simple things. I like the town of Kyoto for its old culture and design. And I love the patterned kimonos of Japan.
Cat and Town
Japanese art is internationally famous for manga, games, Japanese paintings, and illustrations. The Japanese art world overall is just wonderful.
Mutsumi is an illustrator based in Tokyo, Japan. Her work features gorgeous colorful designs of simplistic landscapes and more. Check out a small selection of her work below, or see more in her portfolio.
What I love about Japan is the beautiful Japanese landscapes and the changing seasons.
Landscape With Calm
In Japan, there are many different styles of illustrations and designs.
I see them naturally in my day-to-day life.
So all of these things around me have greatly influenced my work.
Cycling in Autumn
Sometimes I like to hold illustrator parties. We talk about many things related to the art community there.
Akira is an illustrator based in Aichi, Japan. His work is inspired by old comic magazines and features original characters through energetic illustrations. Check out a small selection of his work below, or see more in his portfolio.
Kick Your Ass
One thing I love about living in Japan is that everyone can access and enjoy films from many countries, such as Yugoslavia, Finland, and Iran. They can also view art throughout different periods, from renaissance to modern and contemporary.
Artwork for Plastered 8
My influences come from Japanese comic books and movies which hold distinct notions of morality. The morality is based on our Buddhist culture so I think I've also been influenced by my Buddhist education.
However, I think that I've been more influenced by pop culture references like Andy Warhol, The Rolling Stones, George Lucas, Raymond Chandler, Hanna Barbera, Levi’s, and finally, Skateboards and Hamburgers.
There are many various art communities and organizations here in Japan. Although I haven't joined one I do enjoy their artists' work.
Many thanks to the artists who took time to answer my questions and share a bit about themselves and how their country and/or culture has affected their work. You can check out more of their work in the links below: