Hein (fub) wrote,

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Modern woodblock prints

Our interest in Japanese culture is well-documented. My interest in the graphic arts continues unabated. That combines into an interest in Japanese woodblock prints. My favourite artist, Hasui, lived at the beginning of the 20th century -- the detailing in his prints is marvellous.
Fuji Arts, a website that specialises in the sale of the Japanese woodblock prints, has also a 'contemporary' section. And it's just not the same: less detailing, different inks, different subject matter. The traditional craft of woodblock printing may be a dying skill, because there's little to keep the interest of the modern (print-buying) public. And if you can't sustain a studio, then there will be no people instructed in the craft, and when the last few masters die, that'll be it.

My interest in video games is well-documented as well. And in one of the FFA's over at aramatheydidnt I came across an illustration of a Pokemon battle, set as a traditional sumo match, in the style of the ukiyo-e prints. Lovely stuff, and very amusing to see a modern Japanese diversion done the way the traditional diversions (travelling, stage plays) were illustrated/promoted. I passed a link to the image to klik, and that was that.

But a few days ago, I found out that there is a whole series of illustrations of scenes from video games in the ukiyo-e style. And that there is a Kickstarted campaign called "Ukiyo-e Heroes" to turn them into actual woodblock prints!

The prints are made by an American living in Tokyo, who studied the traditional techniques, and who is trying to set up a self-sustaining studio to teach others the craft. If it weren't for this kickstarter campaign, he would have to fire his assistants, because the money was running out. With the money currently coming in, he can keep going for a year. So the money not only serves as a way to get the show on the road, it also will help preserve and perpetuate a very important traditional skill.

Of course we chipped in. Both of us liked "The Hero Rests" the best: the colors, the traditional imagery... So we funded a woodblock print of that. I do think we'll proudly display it next to the Hasui prints.

Do check out the campaign -- if only to see the video of the full process of creating a print.
Tags: games, japan

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