Ikko Tanaka

Tanaka was born in Nara, japan in 1930 and became famous for combining Japanese traditional motifs such as landscapes, the Noh theatre, masks and calligraphy with Western modernism and Western styles of typography. His early life saw his study art moving on to modern drama and theatrical study groups at a later date. 1963, was the year he formed Tanaka Design Studio where worked for corporations like Mazda, Hanae Mori, Issey Miyake and the International Garden and Greenery Exhibition.

in 1977 Tanaka designed a work for Amnesty International, an organization focused on human rights. His used of colour Western graphics, typeface and traditional Japanese type are evident in this early work, a style mixture that he’ll go on make his trademark.


Medium, screen print on paper.

His Hanae Mori work in 1978 displayed his Western modernism style with Western typefaces for a Japanese fashion designer named Hanae Mori. This work combined geometric shapes in the form of a butterfly, often associated with beauty, with a modern style typeface.


Medium, screen print on paper.



Tanaka most famous work was designed in 1981 when he created a poster for a Nihon Buyo dance performance, in which he created an abstract geisha using geometric forms placed on a simple grid.


Medium, offset print on paper.

1986 he did a piece titled Ginza Saison Theatre for Theatre company itself, which mainly stages Japanese-langue plays. Like most of his designs shapes with a splash of colour play a big focal point for his poster combining Western typeface placed at the top and Japanese text at the bottom.


Medium, screen print on paper.

1991 Tanaka took to designing a poster for the 16th Japanese Kimono Exhibition and it typical Tanaka style, which at this point in his career was well and truly famous for. This design uses a white shape manipulated to form the outline if a Kimono with black shapes scattered across it incasing coloured Japanese lettering.


Medium, offset print

this was one of Ikko Tanaka’s last works, dying in 2002 the graphic design world lost a true talent. IkkoTanaka


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