Ukiyo-e Project: KISS Rocks Traditional Japanese Graphic Art
Ukiyo-e is a Japanese traditional handicraft. This art has been around for over 400 hundred years, however, the number of successors is decreasing and along with it this traditional Japanese art is dying. The Ukiyo-e Project aims to revitalize the art of Ukiyo-e by bridging the gap between traditional Japanese art and modern pop culture.
It could be said that KISS was destined to be apart of this project. They were going on their 40 year anniversary world tour in 2015 and the first location was Tokyo. The band was collaborating with Momoclo and the theme was Ukiyo-e art.
The process of creating Ukiyo-e art involves a collaboration of artisans that can be compared to that of a music band. The three artisans are the illustrator, the woodcarver, and the hand printer. Usually a Ukiyo-e design takes about 10 – 15 blocks of wood, however, each KISS Ukiyo-e design took 20~25 woodblocks. The printing process is generally run 15 -20 times, but each KISS Ukiyo-e had to be processed 80 to 90 times. In order to have the project revealed by the time KISS arrived, the artisans worked through the New Year’s break.
The founder, Yuka Mitsui, is very passionate about preserving traditional Japanese art and culture, and her involvement in the music industry helped connect the Ukiyo-e Project to KISS. Currently there are only 9 wood carvers and only 30 hand printers left. The team hopes to connect more pop culture icons around the world with the Ukiyo-e Project, and in turn create a living for future artisans to carry on this traditional Japanese art through modern themes.