Illustration Teardowns: Japanese Illustrators

From medieval scrolls to woodblock prints to modern Manga, Japanese illustration has always taken the viewer to whimsical and magical places…

illustration by Rob Levin

First off, I need to disclaimer this post by stating that I am not from Japan, so this list is certainly not meant to be comprehensive but more a subset of Japanese illustrators that happen to speak to my own aesthetic taste. For brevity, I’ll defer to A Brief History of Japanese Illustration for a historical overview of Japanese illustration. Also, see Google Art and Culture’s Ukiyo-e section to see some amazing historical woodblock works.

More effort was put in to curation then commentary this time around since I kept finding amazing illustrators to add. As usual, click through to visit artist’s page!


Hiroyuki Izutsu
Hiroyuki Izutsu
Hiroyuki Izutsu
Hiroyuki Izutsu

While I’m drawn to the his more scenic work, I feel I should also mention that Hiroyuki Izutsu has some amazing portrait work as well.


Ko. Machiyama
Ko. Machiyama

Haiba Yuri (not fully sure if this is correct, the handle is haiba-yuri; let me know if you have info)

Kenji Urata — Homework
Kenji Urata — The Distance

Takahiro Suganuma — Cover illustration for The World Today
Takahiro Suganuma
Takahiro Suganuma
Takahiro Suganuma

ONEQ
ONEQ

Takeshi Miyasaka — While waiting illustration
Takeshi Miyasaka — Embankment

Tatsuro Kiuchi—creative use of figure ground and compositional placement
Tatsuro Kiuchi
Tatsuro Kiuchi—again with wonderful use of figure ground

Taku Bannai
Taku Bannai
Taku Bannai

Kazuhisa Uragami
Kazuhisa Uragami

Kunihiro Suzuki
Kunihiro Suzuki

Naoki Ando
Naoki Ando

I’m so glad that dijipiji provided a link to the collection of Ido Masao which has some wonderful woodblock prints and paintings:

Collection of Ido Masao
Collection of Ido Masao

Japan offers so many amazing contemporary illustrators—and these were just a subset—I’d also encourage you to search for Manga, Ukiyo-e, and Japanese woodblock prints, as well as play around on Google Arts and Culture to learn more about the rich history of Japanese illustration.


Previous in series: Background Details. Next in series: Bay Area Illustrators. Also, you may like one of my other illustration teardowns.

Rob Levin does technical things by day and illustration by night. You can view his work at https://www.instagram.com/roblevinillustration and https://www.behance.net/roblevin