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Design History Paper Shigeo Fukuda

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Shigeo Fukuda was born in Tokyo, Japan in February of 1932 he unfortunately passed at the age of 76 from a stroke, on January 11, 2009 in his hometown of Tokyo. He was mostly known for his antiwar and environmental advocacy posters. He was an expert in conveying a message using minimal graphic needs. His work is very popular among American designers. Fukuda’s book “Visual Illusion” 1982, at one point was a virtual textbook for US designers.

Fukuda was one of the founding member and director of the Japanese Graphic Designers Association (JAGDA). During 2000-2009 he was president of the JADGA as a committee member of the Tokyo ADC. Also he was the Japanese representative for the Alliance Graphique Internationale. Then in 1986 he was given the Honorary Royal Designer for Industry distinction from the Royal Society of Arts in London.

As a child Fukuda enjoyed doing origami. When he was a teenager he became influenced by Swiss style of art. One of his biggest influences was Takashi Kohno, who was a pioneer in modern Japanese design. Kohno what purported as Japan’s first designer creating a distinct objective along with a creative personality. The posters that he made were thought of as a new era of visual expressionism. His work was always thought of as being controversial, and yet visually inspiring. His posters were like a prelude to Fukuda’s own imprint on communication design.

Fukuda graduated from the Tokyo National University if Fine Arts and Music in 1956, where he studied graphic design and three-dimensional design .Shortly after he joined the Ajinmoto Co .Ltd. He worked as a freelance artist until his departure in 1958. In 1966 he gained notice from the Czechoslovakian Graphic Design competition then a year later he had gained fame from his posters in the Montreal Expo. It was around this time that Fukuda found an interest in illusionism. Fellow Designer Paul Rand had noticed Fukuda’s work in a Japanese Graphic Design Magazine. He saw Fukuda’s potential and had arranged an exhibit for his first US debut at New York City’s IBM Gallery. This exhibit had brought him widespread recognition.

In addition to his IBM exhibit Fukuda had participated in many other solo exhibits including: Asian Art Museum in San Fransico (1987), Quimper Center D’Art Contemporian in Quimper (1991), Museo National de Bellas Artes in Buenos Ares (1993), Museum of Modern Art, Toyama in Toyama, Japan (1995), Poster Museum in Warsaw (1995), National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, Japan (1997), China in 2002, Chengdu, 2003, and Turpan in 2004.

Fukuda had received numerous international awards during his professional career. In 1972 he was awarded the International Poster Biennial, along with many others which include: Warsaw gold prize, 1985 he got first place in the Moscow Poster Biennial in Russia, 1995 Helsinki Poster Biennial Grand Prix in Finland, First Prize in Slovakia (1993), and the Savignac Prize at the Salon International del l’Affiche at UNESCO, Paris (1995). He was the first Japanese designer to be inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame in New York of ’87. He has many other awards that he has received during his career.

Most of his work includes poster designs, but he also creates illusion art which is also represented in some of his posters. One of his most famous works is called Victory (1945) it was a bitingly satirical commentary on the senselessness of war. It was this piece that had won him the Warsaw Poster Contest grand prize in 1975.

Most of what he did he was for social and cultural concerns. An example of this is his piece he did for the Osaka World’s Fair in 1970. Sadly poster design is not an aggressively sales oriented as it is in other areas of the world, it is mostly used as a form of communication and advocacy on political and social issues. He is an idealist, whose basic body of work was made for cultural and social concern.

When it comes to the art of illusion Fukuda knows his stuff. It is apparent with all the countless awards that he has won from all over the world makes for a living testament to his power of design. With a boyish playfulness and enthusiasm for pranks that is often reflected from his philosophical outlook on the world. This idea was represented in the 1960s visual illusion entitled “Ryu Mita Ka?” which translates to “Have You Seen the Dragon?” this idea was featured in the daily Ashai Newspaper.

In a interview he describes his motivation behind his technique as; “I believe that in design, 30% dignity, 20% beauty and 50% absurdity are necessary. Rather than catering to the design sensitivity of the general public, there is advancement in design if people are left to feel satisfied with their own superiority, by entrapping them with visual illusion.”

Shigeo Fukuda often used humor as part of his design. Majority of his deigns were visual puns that evoke double reading. Victory is a good example of this it depicts an airborne black artillery shell aimed directly at the opening of the cannon barrel that it was shot out of. Unlike Western styles of expression Japanese communication is meant to be more emotional rather than rational. These emotions are directly linked to art. Fukuda’s style changes all cultural and linguistic barriers.

His posters that he creates mirrors an embraces the worldly causes that he believes in. He always manages to get his point across with his flair for color and layout paired with Japanese reproduction techniques. Beyond just poster and sculpture design, he also shows talent in redesigning areas for companies who commission him. A couple of examples are the Seibu Department store in Tokyo, and also the UCC Coffee Pavilion also in Tokyo.

Fukuda is also very involved in education. He was a visiting Design professor at Yale University. He has also taught at his own Alma matter. Along with those two universities he was also a guest professor and numerous schools throughout China, Japan, and Thailand. He is a huge supporter in teaching art and design; he does this in an enjoyable, relaxed manner. One of his teaching beliefs is that a compulsory, regimented curriculum deters students from developing a personal sense of aesthetics that should otherwise flow evenly from within. –Shigeo Fukuda.

Heller, S (2009, January 19) Shigeo Fukuda, Graphic Designer, Dies at 76
Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/
Heller, S (2009, January 20) Shigeo Fukuda, 76, Graphic Design
Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/
Chwast, S (2005) Shigeo Fukuda Masterworks
Buffalo, NY: Firefly books
http://vangeva.com/shigeo-fukuda
http://www.icograda.org/news/year/2009_news/articles1382.htm http://www.adcglobal.org/archive/hof/1987/?id=235

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