Language: Jpanese English
Product Dimensions: 29.6 x 22.4 x 1 cm
Release Date: 1994
Cover design: Yusaku Kamekura
100 Graphic Designers of the World
Alain Le Quernec
Mendell & Oberer (Pierre Mendell)
So-Ky (Sós, László)
Antonio Perez ‘Niko’
Josep Mª trias
aul Peter Piech
Skolos/Wedell (Nancy Skolos)
My Heartfelt Congratulations
This year’s 40th anniversary of IDEA magazine fills me with deep feelings. You see, I was very much involved with the early graphic design magazine that was later to become IDEA magazine.
Perhaps I am a bit sentimental for the old days,
but I think that talking about how this magazine came into being reveals important aspects of the history of graphic design in Japan. Furthermore, I can think of no one more fitting to recount it than
Excuse me for getting personal, but around 1935, when I was about 20 years old, I came across a magazine called advertising World.” This magazine, which was indeed quite a novelty in those days, was published by Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing Company, which publishes IDEA magazine today.
“Advertising World” had already been in existence for some time before it came to my attention. It was edited by Kurazo Murota, a
pioneer of the Japanese graphic design movement. Murota died not long after beginning the work and a young man named Shun Miyayama
took over. Young and ambitious, Miyayama asked a designer named Tsurunosuke Fujiyoshi to collaborate with him in ushering in a new era for the magazine.
Even though I was an obscure graphic designer at that time, Fuiiyoshi allowed me to create a trial frontispiece for each issue of the magazine. It was through working for that magazine that I
established myself as a graphic designer.
However, as repercussions of World War II loomed louder and louder, printing paper was rationed and those publications deemed unnecessary to the war effort were forced to discontinue. “Advertising World” was no exception. Both Miyayama and Fujiyoshi left the magazine, with Miyayama entering the service, Following Japan’s crushing defeat at the end of the war, all of us were faced with terrible hardships It was while Japan was slowly beginning to rebuild itself that Kikumatsu Ogawa, president of Seibundo Shinkosha, came back from his inspection tour of the United States and Europe. In his first public speech following his return, he declared, “We are entering an age of
design,” Ogawa managed to locate Miyayama and urged him to cooperate with him in resuming publication of “Advertising World.”
I can still clearly remember the day when Miyayama came to me excitedly with the news of what Ogawa had said. Miyayama chose the new name “IDEA” for the magazine, and asked me to create a new logo for it. In fact, that logo is still used today, which is likely why I was filled with such emotion when asked to write an article for this 40th anniversary issue.
It was perhaps in October last year that Mr. Minoru Takita, chief editor of IDEA magazine called on me to discuss the plan for a special edition to commemorate the 40th anniversary of
the magazine. He asked me to select the “best 100 graphic designers in the world.” I was amazed by his request, which I thought was too much for me. I was afraid that I might make
partial judgements if I did the selection all by myself, so I said to Mr, Takita, “I want to ask Shigeo Fukuda, who is well-informed about current trends in the world’s design community. to cooperate with me in doing the selection.”
With Mr. Takita’s consent, I immediately asked Fukuda, and he replied in the affirmative.
At our first meeting, I proposed that we define our rationale for the special edition’s plan because I feared that otherwise the selection process might lack consistency, We concluded
that the candidates would be those graphic designers whose work is above the international standard and who are continuing their creative activities, publishing at least a few new works
each year, and that top-notch illustrators should also be among the candidates. In other words, our main purpose was to create a collection of graphic art works of the best possible quality.
It was decided that Fukuda and I should each compile a list of 100 candidates and then collate the two lists. It is said that this process of candidate selection results in about 75 percent of the total number of candidates being the same, which was true in our case, too. One thing was different, however. Neither of us was able to come up with as many as 100 candidates. Both
of us consulted various publications on graphic design and illustration, but neither of us could select more than 90 candidates,
Quite unexpectedly, both of us came to the same conclusion: the world’s standard of graphic design has declined. What was more important was that both of us found it very difficult to obtain a clear image of the younger generation of graphic artists It seems that their energies are being lost.
Their styles are indeed in the forefront of fashion in graphic art, but most of their work is stereotyped and superficial. It seems very hard to find
even a single graphic artist who has a really clear-cut, shocking personality. If these young graphic artists were energetic enough, it would have been easy for us to select a hundred or so of them. This was not the case, and thus it
happened that our rationale for the editorial plan raised a serious question for the world’s design community.
IDEA, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, is the world’s second oldest graphic art magazine after “Graphis.” of Switzerland. If the history of “Advertising World,” IDEA’s predecessor, is added however, then IDEA magazine is actually older than “Graphis.” Of course, the value of a graphic art magazine cannot be judged
by the length of its history alone, but a long history is often associated with a lot of depth, You can confirm this by looking at some back issues of the magazine. You may be surprised to find works of almost all the top graphic designers there. You will also find early works of graphic artists who are still active at the forefront of graphic design.
This means that the magazine’s editors are keeping a close watch on the current trends in the world’s graphic design community. Having
said that, I will add that it is a strange phenomenon, but there are very few graphic design critics in Japan. The fact is that it is new difficult to earn a living as a graphic design critic In the absence of reliable graphic design critics, graphic artists tend to be unaware of the importance of their attitude toward society and art, and as a result, graphic design publications end up playing the role of graphic design critics.
That graphic art publications are playing the role of graphic design critics may be too simplistic a remark. Good graphic design critics are in a position to prove promising young designer’s capabilities and to discover and nurture hidden talent. They also have the important duty of giving direction to graphic design publications. In the absence of such graphic design critics
though, the editors of graphic design publications have to make value judgements on graphic designers. Not only in Japan, but also in many other countries, the ideas and concepts of the editors of graphic design publications exert a great influence on the graphic design community.
In other words, graphic design publications have been given an influential voice in graphic design circles, Some argue that it is wrong to identify
journalism with criticism, but it is unlikely that such an argument will lead to a solution of the problem.
In light of this global trend in graphic design criticism, I cannot but say that this plan for the special issue commemorating the 40th anniversary of IDEA magazine was a very important duty placed on me, since I believe that such a plan is certain to make journalism’s voice even louder. At this writing, I have not yet looked at all the works received by the magazine, but I am looking forward to that with mixed feelings of expectation, confidence and uneasiness. Speak ing frankly, this is how I feel now.