A brief history of Japanese illustration

IDesignI/Tom McCallum:


Japanese illustration, particularly manga, has gathered a huge, global fan base in the last few decades. As its influence continues to spread, we take a look back at how it all began, where it is now and what might happen in the future.


The Origins of Japanese Illustration

The beginning of modern Japanese illustration can be dated back to a series of medieval scrolls created in the 10th century that contain drawings of animals. These scrolls are thought of by many as the first example of the famous and hugely influential manga illustration style. Animals remained a common subject throughout the 13th century in linear illustration. These more closely resemble modern day manga illustrations. The afterlife was another popular subject for Japanese illustrators of this time, but after this period they began to branch out to wider ranging subjects.


The Art of Ukiyo-e

Ukiyo-e, the ancient Japanese illustration technique of painting onto wooden blocks, came about in the 1600s in the Edo period. Ukiyo-e often contained erotic content, like a lot of modern manga illustrations, as well as a lot of satirical content. The most recognisable ukiyo-e painting from this time is the incredibly famous illustration by Hokusai, ‘the Great Wave of Kanagawa’.

famous japanese illustration

The waves in this famous work are often mistakenly referred to as a ‘tsunami’, however, they are more accurately called ‘okinami’, or great off-shore waves


The late 1600s provided further innovation in Japanese illustration with ink-brushed illustrated prints; however, the content of the majority of these prints lacks a progressive storyline which is so common of modern manga illustration today.


The Origins of Manga

Manga are Japanese illustrated storybooks, comics or graphic novels. On every commuter train and in every waiting room or cafe in Tokyo you are certain to see a number of youngsters with their noses in a manga comic. The word ‘manga’ can be translated to mean ‘whimsical picture’. The popularity of manga, across the world of both illustration and storytelling, has been massive and their influence on modern commercial illustration styles continues to be strong.

The first commercial manga illustrated comics came about in the late 1940s. They were known as ‘Akahons’, or cheap red books, and were introduced to provide entertainment to the huge population of poor who were in desperate need of entertainment during the post-war period. Tezuka’s 1947 “New Treasure Island” sold over 400,000 copies when it was released and its popularity would change the face of Japanese illustration forever.


the first ever manga

Tezuka’s 1947 debut ‘New Treasure Island’ is widely credited as the first modern manga

Manga illustration today

By the 1990s, Japanese manga had become a popular commercial art form across the world, and artists in the West started to use the style to inform and inspire their own work. Luis NCT has been working as a freelance illustrator since 2005 and although he lives in Valencia, Spain, the biggest influence on his style comes from Japan. He feels the use of bold illustration is the perfect way to tell a visual story:

The first thing that attracted me to manga – when I began to see them in the comic book stores – was the strength and immediacy on the graphic. The contrasting pure black and white (even with the mechanic grey tones on it) of manga transmitted dynamism and promoted a faster reading rate, which I thought was much closer to the image in motion of cinema and animation. The stylisation on anatomies and composition contributes to the same effect, giving a special vitality to the artwork. Moreover, manga illustrations tend to avoid the use of bold black masses for shadow (in faces, for example) so the pages look less heavy and dissuades slow-reading, unlike a lot of those chiaroscuro-abused occidental comicbooks.


manga comic bu Luis NCT

“Sleepers” by Spanish illustrator Luis NCT is set to be released in the US early next year

I love that manga doesn’t try to mimic reality. It doesn’t look like a series of photographs translated to drawings, but images constructed with a graphic language that only make sense in drawing. Of course I’m generalising and there are a lot of exceptions,  for example the abuse of backgrounds traced from photo or 3D models seen over the last few years.


image from manga by Luis NCT

Image from ‘Sleepers’ by Luis NCT

There is intersection between eastern and western design that you can see in colour illustrators, like Katsuya Terada or Katsuhiro Otomo (both were heavily influenced by Moebius and other European artists). I prefer this style to the cell-shading you could see on most of the mass-produced manga. Connecting with that, I have to say that I love manga artists that have a unique voice and style (like Otomo, Toriyama, Kishiro, Miyazaki, Tanaka, Nihei…) but I don’t like at all the standardised, commercial and mass-produced manga.


manga image by Luis NCT

Image from ‘Sleepers by Luis NCT

Felix Setiawan is another manga illustrator who is creating work from outside of Japan. Living in Jakarta, Indonesia, Felix says he loves both reading and using the manga style for the escapism it provides and says, “the fantasy of manga illustration can make me forget about how boring real life is.”
manga fan art

Manga fan art illustration by Felix Setiawan for Japanese video game ‘J Stars Victory Vs’

The Future of Japanese Illustration

While manga is the most popular form of Japanese illustration globally, there is a danger in thinking that manga illustration completely defines Japan’s illustration scene. While there are many outstanding Japanese illustrators who work with manga illustration styles, there are many who are influenced by the ancient history of Japanese illustration but work in a completely different style. Tatsuro Kiuchi, for example, is a multiple award-winning illustrator, representative of the amazingly talented Japanese illustration scene, that is not reliant on the manga industry:

illustration by japanese illustrator tatsuro kiuchi

Award-winning illustration by Tatsuro Kiuchi

Actually, I am not particularly a big fan of manga right now. When I was a high school student, I read manga magazines regularly. However, I hardly read manga after that. I know some of the manga are very interesting and fun to read storywise, but I think I am not into those manga-type line drawings. I love drawings done by illustrators or fine artists much more. I do love a couple of manga artists such as Osamu Tezuka, Fujio Akatsuka, Katsuhiro Otomo, Katsuya Terada, Shigeru Mizuki; I admire the qualities of their line drawings. I tend to pay attention to the qualities of artworks in great detail rather than the stories in manga.”


tatsuro kiuchi ballons reflected in lake illustration

Illustration for Japan Railway Kyushu by Tatsuro Kiuchi

However, the popularity of manga in Japan is almost unavoidable and Tatsuro admits that manga has had some bearing on his own style as a top Japanese illustrator:

I can say that some of my favourite manga along with my favourite line artworks have influenced my work. I have been looking for great line drawings, and I get inspired when I find one. However, I think the percentage of manga influence on my work is not so high.”


tatsuro kiuchi illustration for magazine

Cover Illustration for Style Asahi by Tatsuro Kiuchi

A bright past, present and future

As manga continues to influence the work of illustrators across the world, Japan looks set to continue to play a huge part in the global story of illustration. With the work of current Japanese illustrators, such as Tatsuro Kiuchi, already carving out a unique style that is influenced by, yet separate, from manga, we could yet see further evolution and advancement of Japanese influence on the industry.


Artist Profile: Everyday life in Indonesian villages captured by photographer Herman Damar



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Herman Damar, a self-taught photographer in Indonesia, has captured beautiful moments from the everyday lives of villagers living outside of Jakarta, the nation’s capital. His photographs, especially of happy children at play, paint a picture of the idyllic wonder and natural beauty of Indonesian village life. This advertisement director-turned-hobbyist photographer agreed to answer some of Bored Panda’s questions about his work.

Damar’s photography, which he shoots with a Canon 550D, is beautiful for its intimate and colorful portrayal of village life, but arguably the most heartwarming photos are of village children at play. Their rafts, water guns and spears show that they have no lack of imagination or of things to do.


Indonesian people are very diverse and humble, they are very happy when I take a shoot“ Damar told Bored Panda.

The best thing is, I can be in direct contact with them, their happiness and their lives, and I am very happy to capture in my camera


Most of Damar’s photos “are captured spontaneously, but sometimes I help to direct [their] poses


Source: 500px.com | Facebook


These images were taken in villages “on the outskirts of Jakarta, unspoiled [by] technological advances

Indonesia is very rich in culture and have a thousands of beautiful islands, Indonesian people are very friendly.

Damar said that the best way to capture photos like his was to spend more time among the people “to better understand their culture and their character, and the best time is in the morning between the 7-9 am


Joey Alexander: “Sons of the Future” (10-year-old jazz piano prodigy from Indonesia)

Yahoo! :

Check out Joey Alexander, a 10-year-old jazz pianist from Jakarta, Indonesia who has been wowing the better part of Asia as well the United Nations and Herbie Hancock with his sensational skills and prodigious improvisation on the keys.


At his young age, Joey can empathize with the ear and soul of a legend like Thelonius Monk, while also imagining his own musical wanderings in pieces he creates on the fly. He’s been playing for only four years, but you wouldn’t know it from the sound of his melodies. Just close your eyes and listen to his three-part cover of Monk’s famous “Round Midnight,” Chick Corea‘s “Armando Rumba,” and John Coltrane‘s “Giant Steps,” and you’ll think you’re hearing a master.

Jazz gives Joey the freedom to express himself, and piano to him is the best instrument to do that,” Joey’s father Denny Sila tells the Good News Blog. “He likes the sound a piano can produce, lots of notes and he believes it is like an orchestra.”

Sophisticated and wise beyond his years, Joey has transformed his passion for music into a full-fledged career, and people are quickly catching on. In December 2011, when he was only 8, the wunderkind was invited by UNESCO to play solo piano for Hancock during the jazz legend’s visit to Indonesia. Denny describes this experience as “life-changing” for Joey.


Joey was nervous,” Denny recalls. “Herbie offered encouragement, and Joey’s biggest dream is to go to the U.S. and perform for Herbie again.”

In the past couple years, Joey has been playing his way around Eastern Europe and Asia, participating in the JakJazz Festival 2012 in Jakarta and 2013 World Youth and Jazz Festival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Denny considers Joey’s greatest accomplishment to be representing Indonesia in the first International Festival Contest of Jazz Improvisation last year in Odessa, Ukraine, and winning the Grand Prix Award.

“It is hard to find events that would accept him at his very young age,” Denny explains. “However, last year in June in Odessa, Ukraine, Joey won the Grand Prix Prize for all instruments… his competitors were all professionals – 271 musicians from 41 countries way above Joey’s age, including two-time Grammy nominee, NY-based saxophonist, Jay Rodriguez, whom Joey had the honor to do a duet with in a workshop.”

As the young prodigy continues his impressive musical summit, he now has taken it upon himself to learn the art of composition, and also enjoys playing music from other genres, including gospel, pop, hip-hop, and R&B. Next up on his playlist, Joey will join American jazz talents Natalie Cole, Robert Glasper, Dave Koz and Jamie Cullum at one of the biggest jazz festivals in the world, Java Jazz Festival.


Finally this festival accepted Joey and his trio,” Denny says with pride.

Finally… at 10 years old!


MARIS Jakarta Holiday Lookbook


Image of MARIS Jakarta Holiday Lookbook
Jakarta streetwear mainstay MARIS wrapped up 2013 with its first outpost in Indonesia. To kick-start the New Year, the burgeoning label presents a lookbook highlighting key pieces from its current range. Stocking a plethora of local and internationally acclaimed brands, the lookbook exhibits tropical weather-friendly tees and pants from the likes of CLOT, Golf Wang, Publish and Undefeated, alongside a stylish footwear range fronted by the likes of LOSERS and Nike.
Standout pieces include an unique pair of adidas Originals Gazelle designed in-house, in addition to a T-shirt collaboration between MARIS and Jakarta skateboarding-inspired label TUFFSTUFF.
Cast your eyes over the lookbook above and follow MARIS on Instagram for news and updates.
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Image of MARIS Jakarta Holiday Lookbook
Image of MARIS Jakarta Holiday Lookbook
Image of MARIS Jakarta Holiday Lookbook
Image of MARIS Jakarta Holiday Lookbook
Image of MARIS Jakarta Holiday Lookbook
Image of MARIS Jakarta Holiday Lookbook
Image of MARIS Jakarta Holiday Lookbook

MARIS Jakarta Store Opening Recap


Image of MARIS Jakarta Store Opening Recap

This past weekend saw the launch of MARIS – a streetwear-centric brick and mortar created in tandem between Hong Kong fashion purveyor Konzeppp’s latest Indonesian outpost, CipaniNoodles and ASGAR Badass Barbers, specializing in rockabilly-inspired cuts. Located in Jakarta’s up-and-coming Seletan creative district, the new store serves as the latest multi-concept store – providing bespoke tailoring, grooming services, food and coffee, and exciting brands both international and local. Here, MARIS stocks a bevy of acclaimed street labels – Us Versus Them, Undefeated, In4mation, Fucking Awesome, Made In Paradise, Publish, LOSERS, Diamond Supply – in addition to exclusives from Black Scale, Stussy and CLOT, while labels such as Tuff Stuff (founded by ex-local pro skater Claude Hutasoit) pays homage towards the city’s own street culture.

The launch itself brought together those of the local sneaker and skate community, with the likes of Footurama and IST – Indonesian Sneaker Team – in attendance. Throughout the evening, Whiteboard Journal took care of the music curation, while representatives of HYPETRAK and CLOT even got a chance to get on the ones and twos.

MARIS Jakarta
JL Panglima Polim IX No.15
Jakarta Selatan

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MARIS Jakarta Store Opening Recap

Image of MARIS Jakarta Store Opening Recap
Image of MARIS Jakarta Store Opening Recap Image of MARIS Jakarta Store Opening Recap Image of MARIS Jakarta Store Opening Recap Image of MARIS Jakarta Store Opening Recap Image of MARIS Jakarta Store Opening Recap Image of MARIS Jakarta Store Opening Recap Image of MARIS Jakarta Store Opening Recap

Indonesia’s taxis now have internet

Indonesia’s taxis now have internet

express wifi 2

Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta, is notorious for its traffic jams, and it’s just a waste of time getting stuck on the road as you head to your next meeting. One taxi fleet recognizes this problem and wishes to put a smile on the face of its passengers by offering free wi-fi.

Express Group has free wi-fi installed in 400 of its taxis in Jakarta, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi areas. These special cabs will have a Huawei wi-fi hotspot logo on the back of each vehicle. Yes, these cabs are using Huawei E5520 routers, which explains the Huawei logo.

The free wi-fi program is run jointly between Chinese phone-maker and telecoms hardware giant Huawei, IT product distributor Intertec, and local telco Telkomsel. This pilot program will last for six months and might be extended if the company gets good results out of it. Express Group is the second largest taxi fleet in Indonesia, commanding about 11 percent market share in the country.

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First skyscraper created to generate its own power will be done in 2020 in Jakarta

First skyscraper created to generate its own power will be done in 2020

PertaminaIndonesia‘s state-owned oil and gas corporation—will have a new headquarters in Jakarta in 2020. One that looks like a smooth spaceship about to take off and generates electricity thanks to its design, created by American architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

First skyscraper created to generate its own power will be done in 2020

According to the firm:

The world’s first supertall tower for which energy is the primary driver of design, Pertamina Energy Tower exposes the sustainable strategies at the core of its design in its simple profile yet sophisticated architectural expression. Gently tapering towards a rounded top, the tower opens up at the crown, revealing a ‘wind funnel’ that will take advantage of the prevailing winds and increased wind speeds at the upper floors to generate energy.

They claim that the skyscraper has been “precisely calibrated for Jakarta’s proximity to the equator” and that its “curved facade will mitigate solar heat gain throughout the year,” which will also reduce the energy and water demand. They also calculate that the building will generate 25 percent of the energy.

First skyscraper created to generate its own power will be done in 2020

The building will also have an exterior campus with an auditorium, gardens and sheltered walkways covered with solar panels.

First skyscraper created to generate its own power will be done in 2020

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First skyscraper created to generate its own power will be done in 2020 in Jakarta


25 Beautifully Cluttered Cityscapes In Asia

1. Hong Kong

Hong Kong

2. Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan

3. Seoul, Korea

Seoul, Korea

4. Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan

5. Seoul, Korea

Seoul, Korea

6. Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia

7. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

8. Jeju, Korea

Jeju, Korea

9. Ghorka, Nepal

Ghorka, Nepal

10. Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

11. Hong Kong

Hong Kong

12. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

13. Zhejiang, China

Zhejiang, China

14. Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam

15. Chongqing, China

Chongqing, China

16. Fenghuang, China

Fenghuang, China

17. Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan

18. Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand

19. Penang, Malaysia

Penang, Malaysia

20. Ura-Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

Ura-Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

21. Beijing, China

Beijing, China

22. Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam

23. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

24. Jiufen, Taiwan

Jiufen, Taiwan

25. Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto, Japan
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Art and activism mix at Jakarta’s unruly Biennale


Anyone trying to navigate this year’s Jakarta Biennale will encounter the Indonesian capital’s infamous gridlock when getting from one art venue to the next. But when the cityscape slows to a crawl, it starts to reveal its street-level innovations: take a bike jacket emblazoned with its owner’s Facebook profile link, or a sheaf of Indo Pos newspapers fashioned into a makeshift car window-shade.

These urban “hacks” may be the perfect introduction to this year’s biennale theme: the Indonesian concept of “Siasat.”

Derived from Arabic, the word is often defined as “tactics,” but has broader implications of strategy, improvisation and creative problem-solving, especially with limited resources. The idea overlaps with jugaad in Indiashanzhai in China and “maker” culture world-wide, but with a distinctive Javanese flavor.

The spirit of siasat infuses every aspect of the biennale, from the 52 participating artists and groups from 18 countries, to the geographic sprawl of more than 15 locations that span old-town colonial Kota Tua to the suburbs of South Jakarta. At the opening night on Saturday, visitors and artists alike were gleaming with sweat while exploring the main venue, an underground parking garage beneath Taman Ismail Marzuki, the art-and-cultural center where the first Jakarta Biennale took place in 1968.

While the Indonesian art boom has put high-priced painters in the spotlight, there is a strong social-activist tradition in the local art scene, according to Ade Darmawan, this year’s Biennale director and founding member of leading Jakarta artists’ collective Ruangrupa.

We know there’s a phenomenon of artists’ collectives working with communities,” Mr. Darmawan said. “There are also communities using an artistic approach to their activism.”

Though community-based projects have recently become fashionable in the international art world, Moelyono, a veteran activist from East Java, has been teaching art workshops to villagers, children and workers across the archipelago since the early 1980s. Documentation of these workshops, mounted on several walls and tables, offer a deliberately incomplete archive of these activities.

Other artists took a more mischievous approach to the concept of activism. Woto Wibowo, who goes by the name Wok the Rock, is behind the Trash Squad, a 10-person “punk cleaning troop” who do unofficial clean-ups of trash left by the Jakarta bourgeoisie outside its many 7-Eleven stores (they even have a theme-song and punk-inspired uniform logos). “I call it invisible theater, not performance,” he said from his impromptu “office” in the corner of the car park, which served as a temporary Trash Squad home base. “I don’t want to do social activism.”

Many of the projects reference motorbikes and street culture, such as the tongue-in-cheek “Helm Ajaiyp,” by artist Napati Awangga, known as Oomleo. The series modifies motorcycle helmets with whimsical extras, including video screens to be enjoyed by the rider behind you, and an opening through which a girl could thread her ponytail.

There is also plenty of street art: Indonesia has a vibrant street art community, and many established artists got their start in the form, such as Eko Nugroho who represented Indonesia in this year’s Venice Biennale.

For the Jakarta Biennale, Mr. Nugroho splashed his distinctive hand-drawn characters on a toll road tunnel, while artist Guntur Wibowo captured the complex history of crime-ridden neighborhood Kampung Ambon in a wall-length timeline.

Murals painted by seven artists in five locations around the city will remain up after the event ends at the end of the month, adding to Jakarta’s renowned street-art landscape – returning some of “Siasat” to its natural habitat.

The 15th Jakarta Biennale runs from Nov. 9 to 30.

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Art and activism mix at Jakarta’s unruly Biennale



Street Art: New mural by Fintan Magee in Jakarta, Indonesia


In this surreal new mural, Fintan Magee has painted an ant holding a monorail pillar on its back while atop of a leaf. A wooden house can be seen in the distance on another leaf, both floating on a yellow and black striped body of liquid. This piece was painted somewhere in Jakarta, Indonesia.

See additional work from Fintan Magee here.

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Street Art: New mural by Fintan Magee in Jakarta, Indonesia