Kimiaki Yaegashi is having fun at work. This is made clear in the Tokyo-based illustrator’s slightly surreal depictions for magazines, brands, fashion labels, and more, which often combine characters from Japanese folklore (yokai) with pop-culture references. Highlights include an image of kappa snapping a smartphone pic of kintaro and tengu clinging to a hippo on the cover of ‘Unplanned Journey’, a zine for TOKYO CULTUART by BEAMS; an ongoing series featuring a pizza-obsessed ‘bikini girl’ that took the focus of his first solo exhibition in 2014; and a 232-page book brimming with charming takes on traditional iconography in ‘Nippon Clipart’.
His fascination with drawing began at an early age, but endured having realised the power the medium has to “communicate beyond words.” Yaegashi’s talent allows him to entertain audiences across the world through simple but highly imaginative compositions. Like ‘SUMOBICHON’, a collection of black-and-white illos which shows the hilarious friendship between a fluffy little bichon frise and a towering sumo wrestler. The intimidating nature of Bichon-chan’s human dissipates when they’re together, with the wrestler allowing his pup to unravel and roll around in his cloth mawashi, hang on his leg while exercising, and share in the same steaming hot pot for dinner. Selfies, kisses, and even costume exchanges further demonstrate the unlikely soft spot this sumo has for his beloved bichon.
From kunoichi (female ninjas) floating on flamingos to ningyo (mermaids) perched at a sushi bar—and so much more—Yaegashi’s amusing take on Japanese symbolism seems to know no bounds. And with a career spanning more than two decades, his own affable character seems endless, too.
Have you ever imagined Amy Winehouse or Nick Cave as a Chihuahua, Neil Young as a Vizsla, or PJ Harvey as an Afghan hound? That’s exactly what San Francisco-based artist Michael Gillette has done through his unique illustration project, blending beloved, iconic music legends, both past and present, with their dog counterparts. Pack of Dogs, our first foray into book publishing, is a celebration of pup and pop culture for music and dog lovers alike.
August 25, 2020