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You are here: Home / Type & typography / Tanaka Ikko and the Japanese Modern Typography

Tanaka Ikko and the Japanese Modern Typography

Tanaka Ikko and the Japanese Modern Typography — a convergence of Western inspiration and Japanese aesthetics Mariko Takagi ATypI 2016 • Warsaw, Poland Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw ASP

Applying the Western definition, typography started in Japan only in the late 19th century. After almost 250 years of systematic isolation from foreign influences, Japan recognised the urgent need to catch up with the international development in science, education, medicine and technology. One of the technologies that was regarded as indispensable was the typesetting and printing with movable types to ensure information coverage throughout the country. Together with the introduction of typography came the exploration of aesthetics of the new media, referring to the movement of modern typography in Europe. In the 1930s, a subtle but aesthetically strong movement in graphic design became visible. However, this was soon interrupted and used as a tool of propaganda in context of the Second World War. Tanaka Ikko (1930–2002) belonged to the first generation of post-war designers. Tanaka and his contemporaries needed to find their own visual identity. For Tanaka, the American typography scene became the aesthetic inspiration. Still, he knew there was a need to define a Japanese way of practicing typography, responding to the unique writing system. This presentation will introduce Tanaka Ikko, the Japanese grand master of graphic design, emphasizing his encounter with typography.

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