Hiroshima Appeal — Yusaku Kamekura (1983)

Yusaku Kamekura is one of Japans most famous and influential designers who founded ‘Japan Graphic designer association’ in 1978. He created this particular poster as his submission for the Hiroshima appeals poster competition with an anti-war, anti-nuclear message which quickly became the most influential and emotional design of its kind. Kamekura helped create the link between culture and commerce within design in Japan and changed the image of war posters all around the world. Not only did he form ‘Japan Graphic designer association’ after working for Nippon magazine but also helped begin the Advertising Artists Club and with other established designers created a House Industry which took on major clients such as Toshiba, Japan Railways, Asahi Beer, Toyota and Nikon.

Yusaku Kamekura beleived in creating clarity and beauty in his designs as well as bringing awareness to important issues taking place around the world. The Hiroshima bombings took place at the end of World War II which entirely destroyed the city leaving it inhabitable to any living thing and killing hundreds of thousands of people. Posters began being created showing images of the blast from afar and skeletons left behind which Kamekura disagreed with as they were unappealing and unwanted by the masses due to the gruesome and graphic nature. He wanted something that perfectly balanced beauty and awareness of the horrific events so that people would want to display it everywhere. He achieved this beautifully shocking image of colourful flaming butterflies dropping to the ground, communicating the fragility of life and that the suffering that came from the bomb reached every aspect of living nature. Kamekura was unsatisfied with his design until its third colour print where he cropped the borders, taking away half of one of the butterflies, to create a more randomised effect to show the uncalculated damage the bomb caused.

For the following six years after the creation of Yusaku Kamekura’s iconic poster, the Hiroshima appeal became a series where the most influential and important designers in Japan also contributed their own work. Kamekura also began an international magazine free from advertisements named ‘Creation’ where he featured a number of designers he felt were under appreciated and needed more recognition for their contributions to design. Yusaku Kamekura main goal in each of his designs was that a designer must use the platform they have been given to speak truth to the people around the world and those in power.