From the "JPG2 - Japan Graphics 2" compendium, section 'applying graphic design on existing products:' In 2005, Dainippon Type Organization enhanced the Birkenstock sandals with the Kanji characters for 'left' and 'right,' composed of the Katakana for 'sandal.' On the right side, they used the Kanji for 'foot' to compose the Katakana of the Birkenstock brand name. © Actar

JPG2: Japanese Graphic Design
2002 – 2006

For four years, editor Tomoko Sakamoto of Spanish publisher Actar, dug through amounts of artful paper works – to present a wider picture of the Japanese graphic and illustration scene. In JPG2 – Japan Graphics we now happily encounter several old buddies we were accompanying since the beginning of our beloved mag and that were featured here extensively before. PingMag talked to Tomoko to hear about the changes and tendencies in Japan since the first edition, Japan Graphics 1, in 2002.

Written by Verena

JPG2 – Japan Graphics: beautiful looks! The wooden JPG icon glued on the front cover is awesome. © Actar

All that I know about you is that you are Japanese, work at Spanish Actar – and edited many books, among them one about Toyo Ito

I’m an architect working now for the Actar architecture and design publishers in Barcelona. Originally, I’m from Tokyo. I edited also a lot for an architectural “boogazine,” a book and magazine called Verb. Besides Japan Graphics 1 and Japan Graphics 2, I edited a book about Dutch design called “HD,” for ”Holland Design.”

Actar stands for ‘actal,’ for activity and architecture, and all of your output features a pretty interesting range of upcoming designers. Now to the JPG2 compendium that came out late last year…

In 2002, we did the first book called JPG – Japan Graphics which went over very well in sales and reputation. Naturally, we wanted to make a second volume. For the follow-up, we asked all the designers to send us some photos of their favourite places, their studios and a self-portrait. Although we are sharing all information around the world, we wanted to separate Japanese design from other. Because I believe that your local environment – where you walk, what you eat, etc. – consciously or unconsciously affects what you create. For example, Namaiki [more of them here on Ping] are gaijin designers, meaning ‘foreign’, but they are more Japanese than the Japanese because they are enjoying how they find so many things in Japan from their point of view; or Keitarrow,living in NY, and Ryuh Tomoaki, living in Taipei, possibly feel more Japanese than ever when they are in foreign countries – like me or you.

Botticelli’s famous “The Birth of Venus” reinterpreted as Bonsai tree collage! Wabisabi’s Dubon Lounge, 2005: image poster for a lounge event for Homemade Records. © Actar

Oh, one’s identity and its shift in a new cultural context would be a whole issue of its own. Maybe, for today, we’d rather focus on the changes within Japanese graphic design in general over the last years, please…

So, when I started to look around I was very surprised how design had changed: Because when we collected the first volume, very young independent Japanese designers had their own websites and back then computer techniques seemingly had the potential to fuse with graphics. One theme was: How can we distribute design using the computer? Like having your own website, making your own printing, doing interactive design and so on. Together with networking, that seemed to change things regarding design.

Spread of the ‘super fine lines’ section: Taku Anekawa: Umbrella, from 2005, for NEUT magazine. The theme was “splatter,” photographed by Masanori Ikeda. Progressive stitch works! © Actar

We assumed that this tendency would continue and that in several years there would be more digital velocity and far more interactions – we were surprised that things didn’t quite work out like that. Instead, in 2006, we found very manual, analogue design spreading out to add an extra value to the works. Four years ago, things high-tech had a certain value. Now, analogue techniques or handmade design is being valued more because it can consist only of one unique piece or it is customised to suit an existing product. And of course, it’s not like going back to the 70s or 80s – analogue techniques are combined with others in a fusion. That is the main theme of JPG2.

Beautiful! Tsuyoshi Kusano: NO NUKE, from 2004. Commercial graphic for EDWIN with the theme of “Take care of the Earth,” including a nuclear hazard icon. © Actar

Tsuyoshi Kusano: solid, from 2005, for Victor Entertainment, Inc.: jacket motif for the fusion band Gari, re-compositioned of fragmented elements from a render image. © Actar

Yes…I’m listening…

One designer, Taku Anekawa [also featured previously here] is literally sewing his designs: First he does the drawings with Photoshop and Illustrator, then their vector data is translated into sewing machine compatibility and sewn onto jeans or shirts. The result is an original piece of art.

Also, a couple of years ago, graphic design was something designed perfectly and enjoyed as a product. A lot of designers are now doing exhibitions that resemble kind of graphic concerts. For example, there was a recent collaboration of a musician with other designers doing a temporary graphic design performance that only 30, 50 or 100 people could attend and then the only piece they made disappeared. They recorded everything and made a video. This kind of approach seems to be quite recent.

Japanese camp! Enlightenment: Tori, 2004. Digital painting for the movie “Tori” by Tadanobu Asano, Columbia Music Entertainment. © Actar

Who do you think of else?

For example, Takora Kimiyoshi Futori did a performance in Tokyo and Sapporo where his graphics were projected onto the wall while he kept drawing onto these projected graphics. Mustone / Iseneehihinee [more about them on Ping] do the same: They spray black graffiti on the wall and and digitally paint onto the sprayed graphics via a projector. The image we have in the JPG2 book looks like their computer crashed…

Again, from the ‘super fine lines’ category, Japanese fine finishes by Hideki Inaba: spread art for RELAX magazine, 2005. © Actar

You also feature two of our recent guests: Dainippon Type Organization and Namaiki!

For Namaiki, it was their second time participating in our project. Four years ago they made the perfect kind of works with Illustrator. Since then, they did a lot of performances, concerts, illustrations, and parties. Dainippon Type Organization are now doing live painting, making letters in front of an audience.

From Hideki Inaba’s solo exhibition “New Line” in 2004. © Actar

Again, from the ‘applying graphic design on existing products’ section: Sunday-Vision: 2006, from 2005. Customised Adidas sneakers for TITLE magazine. © Actar

Yes, their toypography! They had such a nice installation at last year’s DesignTide

We did a book with them, a collection of cards. The reader could make a sentence or name and you could play with the letters. Actually, we love Dainippon and try to make their work more known more internationally! Four years ago they weren’t so famous, yet. I didn’t understand all of their work before because it’s written in Chinese and Japanese Kanji. However, now, we completely like their new concept of designing graphics not to be read or used. They are using the theme of letters to describe something completely else.

More Enlightenment! Detail of “Mosslightenment” from 2003. Digitally painted invitation for fashion brand Mosslight. © Actar

The book info talks about “How the work of young professionals have been affected by Japan`s economic, social and cultural changes.” In what way can graphic design reflect Japanese society?

Four years ago, we selected graphic designers who happened to work for big clients. However, now we intentionally selected independent designers with very small customers. In 2002, everything was about commercial work. Now we get to see more and more of the designers’ own intended, original works of the artistic kind. For example, they are doing exhibitions or customising products in small quantities instead of producing 5,000 copies. Maybe it’s because four years ago the economic situation was better and with less big clients they are dedicating themselves to this…

From ‘JPG2,’ introductory images of Tokyo. Tomoko explains: “According to the concept of ‘making clear the difference of Japanese graphic design between 2002 and 2006,’ we made all the layout of this book just onto the first JPG book. Maybe you will be a bit surprised when you open the follow-up now, because there are a lot of images below the layers…” Photo by Oriol Rigat. © Actar

Living in Barcelona, can you make out some obvious differences between Japanese and European graphics – if such a generalisation is possible at all…?

Right now we are making a Dutch graphic design book; I would think that European design is more concept-based or on the messages behind the graphic treatment. Of course, there is a message and concept in Japanese design as well, but they do seem to care a whole lot about the superficial treatment and the extra fine finishes. For example, in JPG2 – Japan Graphics there is one chapter on super fine lines. And Hideki Inaba contributed with design in some very high resolution, more than enough. It’s not that European design doesn’t care as much about fine resolution and detail, it’s just more about the impact.

Street art styles aren’t missing either: spread of Buddha Productions’ street zen #0, from 2005. Stencil work on board. © Actar

Is that still the approach of the younger Japanese designers?

They are using traditional culture, like Ukiyo-e and kimono, and remixing it like DJs, using work of any old, as well as contemporary, culture. Moreover, Japanese designers are now very conscious to be seen as Japanese graphic designers…so it’s very natural for them to return to traditional styles in a country with such a cultural background and reimport those influences again.

Talking graphics: spread of Tsuyoshi Hirooka’s collage works – POP UP from 2006 (left) and chom from 2003 (right). © Actar

Interestingly, these traditions left Japan, went all over the world, and then people in the country realised how important they are…

It’s kind of a double-edged sword if it was exported once and then we found it again. From the outside of Japan, things look very Japanese. But it’s very difficult to recognise these things when they are so close around us. For example ten or fifteen years ago, besides traditional art in Japan, subcultures like manga used to something which we felt ashamed of to present as artwork. But only after it became a success around the world we know how to use this influence.

Tsuyoshi Hirooka: So many men, so many minds, from 2003, for Beams T – “imagining an image from familiar landscapes in Tokyo.”© Actar

Sadly, we have to come to an end for today: So, what`s next for you?

The Dutch design book, its title for the moment is “Super HD” as follow-up on the one we did in 2001. By the way, Harmen Liemburg will be in this, too. He was the one who sent me the link for PingMag before to let me know about the mag – and I really loved it!

Oh, that’s nice! Thanks Harmen, and especially thank you, Tomoko Sakamoto of Actar for you rich JPG2 – Japan Graphics! In the final Who’s Who section of the book, all the designers introduce themselves, including website, e-mail, post address or even telephone number. Helpful!

Something to look forward during the approaching Tokyo Designer’s Week: Actar are doing the catalogue and the graphics for an exhibition called Spain Playtime – fresh air in Spanish design at the Spanish Embassy in Tokyo…

  • Shantell Martin

    Im liking the street zen…..

  • Akai

    Really creative and inspiring!
    I love japanese design the most!
    The hidari migi sandals are funny :D

  • okinawa japan

    I love this stuff!!

  • Eoo

    Oh maaan! Thx for work!0

  • Pingback: Nerdcore — Links vom 15. 9. 07: Hardcore Turtles, Eva Herzigova, RAF, Logotrends und Schäubles Weltbild

  • yaschan

    wowwww.. beautiful!

  • Pedro

    really nice stuff :)

  • Pingback: JPG2 - Japanese Graphic Design 2002-2006 » RANDPOP japan, design, graphik, graphic, jpg, jpg2, Tomoko, Sakamoto, bilder, beispiele, schön, kreativ, pingmag, zeitgenössisch, modern

  • Pingback: Elisava Escuela Superior de Diseño - Postgrado en Diseño y Dirección de Arte » JPG2: Japanese Graphic Design

  • maki

    The Japanese design sensibility is really quite astounding. There’s always something admirably modern yet japsy traditional in some sense.

  • Dawid Michalczyk

    The “Solid” by Tsuyoshi Kusano. That’s a good one.

  • puddletown

    Thanks for the article. Tsuyoshi Hirooka is creating some incredible designs. Cool stuff.

  • jebus

    If I ever need inspiration all I need to do is type “Japanese graphic design” into google. You guys sneeze and the rest of the world catches a cold (6 months later).
    Keep it up.

  • aji

    thank for inspiration..
    so beauty.. imust learm more

  • Replica Designer Handbags

    all looks a little complicated.
    don’t like it so much.

  • amir ebrahimnia

    Are you seriously not going to bring back PingMag? There’s so much inspiration on here ..

  • swarovski hotfix crystals

    necklace swarovski
    I was very tickled to stumble throughout this site.I needed to thank you for this Fascinating weblog!! I truly enjoyed every little bit of it and I have you favorited to take a look at new tales you post.

  • Stop dieting. Start eating. And Start Living!


  • Information For Creating Profitable Niche Market Websites.

    like your website, looks cool,some interesting stuff on it keep up the good work.

  • innovative healthcare

    Thanks for the information about this topic.

  • personal development

    I like your way of thinking. Personal development and its many forms are really close to my heart. I also believe in getting different points of view on this subject to really broaden my thinking.

  • future of computing

    ” Our life is the creation of our mind.” -Buddha.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks,I am sure my visitors will find that very useful.

  • Affiliate Marketing Reviews

    Will “phone hack gate” send the Murdocksto Jail?

  • escorts Phuket

    I discovered , your entire blog website web site on bing as well as analysis a couple of with your soon content articles. Preserve up the incredible deliver the results. I recently extra your Rss so that you can the Yahoo Guidance Book lover. Trying to get in the future to researching surplus away from you eventually!…

  • united healthcare florida

    This is an Online Marketing Review

  • Marketing Strategy Template

    I am a giant fan of foreign exchange and finance so I find this topic very interesting. I always like to undertsand a brand new method of looking at it. Thanks for the information.

  • Examples Viral Marketing

    I’ve by no means seen it from that perspective. Luckily there are multiple approachs to do things. I actually enjoy business and finance so this post offers some attention-grabbing concepts for me to think about.

  • Skinny Guy Muscle

    I am an enormous fan of forex and finance so I find this topic very interesting. I always like to undertsand a new means of taking a look at it. Thanks for the information.

  • raw food diet

    Thank you for your article/s of which I found to be most informative and more importantly, relevant to what I was looking for, plus I will return to catch your updates, sincere best wishes.David

  • pc chess games

    Enjoy this site very much. Chess training is ongoing; individual play, individual coaching, clubs, tournys, computers, so many opportunities for improved play. What do you think?

  • Get 125.000 visitors Free with Mighty Solos

    succes in your online business

  • Get 125.000 visitors Free with Mighty Solos

    Niels van raak

  • Government Jobs

    15000+ Jobs across India for Oct Upload Resume.Apply to Infosys Now!

  • Jamon Iberico

    Gran articulo. Somos seguidores vuestros desde hace tiempo y queriamos aprovechar este comentario para felicitaros por vuestro blog y por el trabajo que estais haciendo en los articulos…

  • smycken online

    very good. thank you

  • χριστουγεννιατικα ειδη
  • antivirus software

    A formidable share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing just a little similar analysis on this. He in fact purchased me breakfast because I found it for him.. smile.

  • อาหารเสริม

    ผลิตภัณฑ์อาหารเสริม เพื่อการเสริมสร้างผิวขาว กระจ่างใส

  • School of thai massage

    school of thai massage and spa certificaes Association of thai treditional medicine Appoved by the Ministry of Health

  • Movies and TV Series

    wat a nice post

  • toko jasa

    wow… is cool….

  • Abhinav Duggal

    Amritsar Temple Pictures,Golden Temple Amritsar Pictures,Harmandir Sahib Amritsar,Swarn Mandir,Darbar Sahib Amritsar, Durgiana Mandir Amritsar,Bada Hanuman Mandir Amritsar,Holy City Amritsar, City Amritsar Pictures, Famous Amritsar Places,Shivala Bagh Bhayian Mandir,Badra Kali Mata Mandir,Chintpurni Mata Mandir,Ram Talai Mandir,Ram Tirath,Model Town,Mata Lal Devi Mandir,Sheeda Sahib,Vaishno Devi Mata Bhawan Pictures,Radha Sawami Baba Ji Pictures,Veer Bhan Shivala,Gurdwara Chheharta Sahib,Sankat Mochan Hanuman Mandir,Gurdwara San Sahib,Banke Bihari Mandir,Gurdwara Goindwal Sahib,Baba Budha Sahib,Bohli Sahib, Itihasik Temples Pictures Download,Baba Bhoot Nath Maha Kaleshwar Mandir

  • reza atayee fard

    I was Mtalbtvn

  • Travel Trips

    Travel Trips has been succesfully catering to travellers across the globe with its well established and secured Global Hotel Reservation System. Our 24X7 customer care support is there all along to help people with their hotel reservations, cancellations and other related issues. Featured are some interesting testimonials from our valued customers vouching for the credibility of Travel Trips.

  • แอลคาร์นิทีน

    สารสกัดจากธรรมชาติต่างๆ ที่นำมาเป็นอาหารเสริมเช่น กลูต้าไธโอน,แอลคาร์นิทีน, น้ำมันรำข้าว, กรดอะมิโนต่างๆ และอื่นๆ นั้นมีประโยชน์ต่อร่างกายของเราอย่างไรบ้าง

  • Anonymous

    Great information keep the cool updates coming.

  • The Visayas

    Thank you so much for this content, Im so lucky and glad that I found this website, Please keep this website going and I will keep

  • HalloHi Social Network

    HalloHi is Social Network service . You can write what ever you want you have your space on this site and you can do whatever you want share music , videos , write blogs , read blogs , ask question , answer question , play games , upload documents , do

  • HalloHi Social Network

    HalloHi is Social Network service . You can write what ever you want you have your space on this site and you can do whatever you want share music , videos , write blogs , read blogs , ask question , answer question , play games , upload documents , do what ever you want your free space:))).

  • L.A Hotels

    Christmas in New York City: 5 dos and don’ts

  • مجموعة اعلانكم الاعلانية البريدية

    مجموعة اعلانكم الاعلانية البريدة المجموعة الاولى للدعاية والاعلان والاشهار

  • المرأة

    I always visit your blog and retrieve everything you post here but I never commented but today when I saw this post, I couldn t stop myself from commenting here. Fantastic article!

  • tour of washington dc

    Great post. Keep them coming. Washington DC Sightseeing Tours.

  • roll up awnings

    Hey this is awesome blogs. Keep posted usefull information. Thank you

  • news

    Cele mai noi stiri

  • zayifla

    Thank you. O like this post. I would like to share at my facebook account.

  • Real estate

    Imobiliare, vanzari case, vanzari apartamente, terenuri, craiova

  • Безплатни обяви

    Безплатни обяви в Facebook, сайт за обяви вестник за обяви добави обяви, София, Пловдив, Варна.

  • Malaysia’s Online Marketplace

    Welcome to your 100% free online classified marketplace. Our idea is simple, why pay when you can sell for free?

  • Malaysia’s Online Marketplace

    After years of development and months of testing, announces that the service is ready for the small business to start selling on the internet for free which would otherwise cost hard earned money on other sites.

  • Costume Jewellery

    This piece of information is a gem for me, very helpful, really a great piece of writing, thanks for the effort made, really impressed.

  • Polnische-Band-Hochzeit, Polnische-Hochzeitsband NRW Polnische Hochzeitsband Hochzeitsmusik Polnische Hochzeit
  • whirlpool washers

    Hi ….. I have information about Whirlpool washers, you should read them and get tips and tricks commersial business with Whirlpool washers.

  • Die Hochzeitsband MOTET aus NRW bietet Ihnen professionelle Musik f�r Ihre Hochzeitsfeier.

    MOTET-Tanzmusik f�r alle. Wir werden Sie begeistern!

  • Marriage Palaces

    Very Nice Website you have, from where did you got it made? kindly tell me the developer you hired.


    Die Band spielte Alles Live und war nur mit Profi Musiker besetzt (Musiklehrer und Hauptberufliche Profimusiker)

  • günlük kiralık

    Haftalık kiralık daire fırsatlarımızı takip ediniz, beş yıldızlı otel konforunda, SPA, türk hamamı, açık ve kapalı havuz farklılığına 95 TL ye sahip olun

  • advertise to millions

    Im so happy, now that I found your website, your contend is very informative and educational. I will always come back for

  • hlektroniko tsigaro

    Very nice site.Thanks

  • ηλεκτρονικο τσιγαρο

    Interisting information