A year ago I was a working adult in Singaporean society. Continuing my studies into university level was the last option that was available to me and I had come to accept what I thought was my lot in life. But then comes fate, tossing the opportunity of a lifetime into my lap and a dream come true. And even though I was filled with trepidation and -to be honest- terror, walking away was not an option. This was the right time for me, even if I do not mean for it to be. I had studied animation, graphic design and illustration in college previously and had a basic understanding of the various disciplines within the Art and Communication Design industry. Since I wanted to start my studies this year, the application process had to be completed as soon as possible and I had a limited time to choose a specialisation. Eventually, after an intense thought process I chose illustration simply because it is a form of visual storytelling in which I have the most interest and I enjoy creating artwork in response to a written narrative or project brief.
Yoshitaka Amano is among one of my favorite artists and illustrators. He’s work first came to my attention through his collaboration with Neil Gaiman for the Sandman: Dream Hunters in 2000 (1) He has collaborated with numerous writers, creating close to 20 illustrated books that have sold millions of copies and he’s most well known work are for Gatchaman, Vampire Hunter D and the Final Fantasy game series. He has done the game logo and character art for almost every instalment of the popular franchise. He was also a character designer for anime shows such as Time Bokan, Tekkaman, and Honey Bee. Amano was influenced by comic books (both Japanese and Western), psychedelic art and pop art of the West, particularly the work of American Pop artist Peter Max. He also studied the artworks of the European movement of Art Nouveau, as well as the ancient Japanese hand woodblock printing work of Ukiyo-e.
These combination of influences help to develop Amano’s distinctive style which can be described as a modern take surrealism and realism with the dynamic, undulating, and flowing lines of Art Nouveau. He’s work is striking yet subtle at once and this balancing act of color and form brings a delicacy into the illustrations. Amano’s style perfectly suits the fantasy genre and is a style that no other artist can follow or imitate. There is something so inherently “fantastic” about his use of color, contrast and landscape which coaxes the viewer and allows them to glimpse into a another world. Yoshitaka Amano’s work is inspiring and ever evolving. His ability to combine contemporary with traditional styles of art makes him a true visionary and he is without a doubt a artist that I admire greatly.
The Sandman: The Dream Hunters written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano
Vampire Hunter D: Mysterious Journey to the North Sea (Part One) written by Hideyuki Kikuchi and illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano
Image Source: The Art of Yoshitaka Amano
Much more of Amano’s work can be viewed in this video.