Fewer museums are built for the appreciation of graphic design than for art. Not that this is necessarily a problem. After all, graphic design doesn’t need a museum or a gallery in which to be experienced; it is present all around us. When we encounter graphic design, it is far more likely to be serving a purpose than to be on show for posterity. But defining a design’s value by its application can mean that current trends and recent projects are consumed rather than celebrated, and this is where Gurafiku comes in.
Started in 2009 by Chicago-based designer and researcher Ryan Hageman, Gurafiku is a visual archive that collates examples of graphic design in Japan. Casting an eye over designs produced in and of Japan, Hageman has organised an online resource rich in imagery and ideas. Including typography, illustration, poster design, book and magazine covers and album artwork, readers can search his site by popular tags, design decades or famous designers. All of which are uploaded to a Tumblr account.
Intrigued by Japanese design, Hageman first travelled to Osaka in 2010 to learn more. By way of preparation for his time in Japan, he began collecting images online that soon attracted the attention of others. Reflecting on the story of design and Gurafiku’s place within it, he said: “I think it would add so much more nuance and character to the history of design to have other perspectives and lesser-known histories integrated into the narrative.”
One of the main aims of Gurafiku is “to lift the barrier of language, and present the graphic design of Japan to an international audience”. Refreshingly, an interesting byproduct of Hageman’s research is that, by being undertaken at a distance, Gurafiku presents designs from across the whole country.
Here’s a selection of recently uploaded images that caught our attention:
Left: Flying High. Tomoya Wakasugi. 2013 / Right: Cosmos. Asuka Watanabe. 2015
Left: Eat War, Not Peace. Shima Takahiro. 2007 / Right: Orchestra Asia. Hideo Pedro Yamashita. 2001
Left: Form / Meaning. Taiki Okuyama. 2014 / Right: Shindeshimau Kei no Bokura ni. Shun Sasaki. 2014
Left: Michiko Shimizu – One Person Budokan. Toru Morooka. 2014 / Right: The Ghoul (Japanese Version). 1933.
Left: Flower’s Declaration. Ryo Kuwabara. 2014 / Right: Dempagumi.inc World Tour. Fantasista Utamaro / meichantoissyo. 2014
Left: Japanese Graph Press. Shogo Sato. 2012 / Right: Contact Improvisation. Kentaro Matsuoka (Triton Graphics). 2015
Left: Sato Koichi Poster Exhibition. 2011 / Right: Slashing Prices. Tadashi Ueda. 2014
何処までいってしまおうby Daiki Kawakami. 2016
©Nick West 2016