Japanese Type & Graphic Design Inspiration // Colour

As a reflection on making work in a contemporary market, I considered taking inspiration, not just from traditional and ancient Japanese culture, but also from a more modern visual – particularly those directed at printed matter and publishing. (posters, publication design etc)

Thinking about my intentions to be more ambitious to take risks and print with a Risograph, I took into consideration a more graphic and limited use of colour. It was interesting to note the RISO company originates from Japan… I realised my previously unappreciated connection to my inspiration further contextalised my themes within a relatable contemporary location.

Ryu Mieno on Its Nice That

Gorgeous book cover design: WA: The Essence of Japanese Design | Design | Phaidon Store:

“I’ve wondered in the past if the attraction of Japanese design isn’t largely down to the otherness of Japanese lettering – how can you resist a pretty, dancing script, of which you can’t understand a single word? – and much to my satisfaction, Ryan agrees. “I think what captures people’s attention… is the written language,” he says, and this is partly because of its variability. “Text can be arranged as we read it in English: horizontally, from left to right. It can also be oriented vertically, read top to bottom, and from right to left.”

On top of the different formats, Japanese and Roman characters are often mixed together. “Japanese words are usually written with ideographic characters, and can also be written with the Roman characters we’re familiar with, and English mixed with Japanese writing is also a common occurrence in Japanese design.” All in all, this variability allows for endless possibilities when it comes to experimenting with composition.” 

It’s NIce That: Gurafiku founder Ryan Hageman on the wonder of Japanese graphic design


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