Monday, March 7, 2011

Justine Barratt - Shigeo Fukuda

Poster Designer

Shigeo Fukuda, an influential Japanese graphic designer who was known for acerbic antiwar and environmental advocacy posters that distilled complex concepts into compelling images of logo-simplicity.

“Victory 1945,” a satirical poster by Shigeo Fukuda.

Mr. Fukuda was expert at communicating messages using minimal graphic means. Although he admired Japanese woodblock traditions, his spare style was universal, his symbolism bridging cultural divides.

Shigeo Fukuda was interested in illusionism, with illusionism he dramatically shatters all cultural and linguistic barriers with his universally recognizable style.

Although he had some commercial clients, most of his work was for social and cultural concerns, like the 1970 World’s Fair in Osaka, for which he designed the official poster.

In Japan, poster design is not as aggressively sales oriented as it is in the West; rather, it is a form of cultural communication and often a vehicle for advocacy on political and social issues. In 1980, for example, Mr. Fukuda designed a poster for Amnesty International showing a drawing of a clenched fist interwoven with barbed wire.

And yet, in work reminiscent of the pictorial illusionist M. C. Escher’s, Mr. Fukuda often used humor as a tool. Many of his best-known designs are visual puns that evoke double readings. One is a widely reproduced satirical poster, “Victory 1945,” showing an airborne black artillery shell aimed directly at the opening of the cannon barrel from which it was shot.

“I believe that in design, 30 percent dignity, 20 percent beauty and 50 percent absurdity are necessary,” he once told the Japanese design magazine Idea.

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