Ikko Tanaka

Japanese Graphic Design Legend | Ikko Tanaka

3.5 years ago, Jules and I were lucky enough to check out a retrospective exhibition of legendary Japanese graphic designer, Ikko Tanaka. It was at a tiny gallery in a quiet Kyoto suburb and absolutely amazing.

Tanaka’s work is renowned for combining traditional Japanese imagery (such as geisha) and colour palettes with a Western inspired modern style. His work is both fun and elegant, two adjectives I like to keep in mind when drawing and designing so he is a massive inspiration.

He passed away in 2002 but leaves behind many iconic designs that are still used in Japan (the wrapping paper and bags at Seibu Department store for instance) and his ongoing influence on Japanese graphic design is undeniable.

I created a tribute piece to Ikko Tanaka for my Emojination exhibition which explored the history of Emoji and Japanese minimalism. You can find it here:

Japan Emoji Design