For my first post I’m recommending one of my favorite Graphic Design themed blogs, Gurafiku. Which is a Tumblr curated by designer Ryan Hageman as a survey of Japanese graphic design. The name comes from the Japanese loan word from English for “graphic”, gurafikku (グラフィック).
This is a great blog to look through for several reasons. The first being the immediate appeal of it as a showcase of many examples of excellent and successful design. But it also serves as a great point of exploration as a designer. By viewing these works, you can compare how design is/has been used in Japan to your own culture that you work within. And through this analysis see not just what is culturally exclusive, but also the universal constants of the language of good design that transcend linguistic-cultural barriers. There is also the opportunity to see how typography is treated in a visually distinct writing system from English. If you can read Japanese, you can compare and contrast how the elements of the language are treated through typography. And if you can’t or, like me, can’t read everything, then you get to see how the characters are pure forms. In this they lose the implication of meaning and pretense, but retain their spatial artistic qualities and implications. Thus, the design choices in terms of value, color, shape, line and contextual placement are allowed to be considered upon their own merit. This can be a valuable though exercise in studying composition, as though the meanings of words are vastly important to good design, their implications can sometimes impede fruitful experimentation. So being able to learn to disassociate words and their meanings enough to play around with them can actually enhance their meaning, upon recontextualization. Though there are other ways to do this.
Similarly, another point of interest is the treatment of roman fonts and the English language by non-native speakers. This can yield some interesting results in terms of how the letterforms are used in composition, and the types of word play in use. In addition many English loanwords have taken on new meaning specific to the Japanese language, so seeing how borrowed words have different implications with the Japanese design language is additional area of research.
Also attempting your own translations of the works can be a great exercise for Japanese language learners, though I acknowledge this is a specialized area of interest.
Regardless of how you may view the site and consider its content, it is my hope that one may find some enjoyment through exploration of its content. Below are some example images I find of particular personal interest, and that I also feel highlight some of the myriad different styles on display.
R Hageman (2014, February 4). Gurafiku [web log]. Retrieved from