‘Sheltered Weaklings’ by Takashi Kono
The poster above is titled ‘Sheltered Weaklings’. It was created in 1953, not long after the Second World War and right at the beginning of the Cold War. It was designed by Takashi Kono for the JAAC (Japanese Advertising Artists Club) who he was also the founding member of. This club was formed in 1951 where graphic designers would take a more artistic approach to their designs and would regularly hold exhibitions of their work for display.
Kono was known for voicing his opinion very openly and strongly within his designs and this piece is no different. It depicts an aggressive image of the United States with his use of colour as the darkness of the solid black background and sharp shapes that depicts USA as a shark. This is to represent the clubs sense of nationalism as they seen American influence taking over their country since they had become allies after the war. They wanted to show their respect of traditional Japanese design and influence others to this opinion. This can be seen through Kono’s use of English before Japanese but still using modern Japanese style of work with their use of a simpler colour palette, his use of geometric shapes and images depicting nature. As you can see above how influenced Takashi Kono was by traditional Japanese art, the main piece is in the centre as the text surrounds the photo randomly and all is created with a limited colour palette.
What also contributes to this poster being politically powerful is the time it was created. This was a time when communism and democracy were on the verge of destroying the world. Posters like this could have a great influence on either side. USA depicted as aggressive sharks as communist fish swim in the opposite direction indicated by their red colour and gold-yellow eyes.
What I personally like about his poster is how he has intelligently combined Japanese art but also introduced Western techniques to work as a metaphor of how they have recently become allies and their culture is slowly infecting their heritage. I also admire how he has no holding back on voicing his opinion, I believe this is one of the most powerful tools graphic design has to offer.