04 February 2014


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.

Japanese Poster: PLAY / Tokyo Health Club. Tadashi Ueda. 2013

Japanese Book Cover: Burning Chrome. Yukimasa Okumura. 1987

Japanese Event Flyer: Lyric of Distant. Yuka Asai. 2013

R Hageman (2014, February 4). Gurafiku [web log]. Retrieved from


  1. Thomas! I remember you showing me this blog in class! Really Cool! I love Japanese art and as you said before, I love how the writing is art itself and if you cannot speak Japanese, it add to the art piece itself. I definitely will be checking in on the blog every now and again! Thanks for the share Thomas!

  2. Thomas, thanks for the cool post. This is some really interesting stuff. My favorite of the three examples you posted is the Japanese book cover by Yukimasa Okumura. It looks a lot like "glitch" art. In my ART studio class we are actually creating these kind of images by going in and messing with the hexadecimal code. It's fun, frustrating, and sometimes very rewarding at the same time.

    If you'd like to try it yourself it's actually fairly simple. Just find an image, such as a jpeg, delete the extension ".jpeg" and reinsert the extension ".txt" Once you have done that open the file in a word processor like text edit and start deleting/inserting different letters and characters (be careful not to mess with any of the "header" code though, which is found at the beginning of the hexadecimal gibberish).

    After you are satisfied with your rescrambling of text and code, save the file and give it the .jpeg extension once again. After that, just open the file up in Preview and you will have a purposefully destructed image!

    Thanks for sharing Thomas, these are some awesome designs.

  3. Hey Thomas these are some pretty amazing examples here. I especially am drawn to the Japanese book cover along with Curtis. I find glitch images to be a fascinating element of art. You technically are destroying the sequence of text markup to diffuse or damage an image. However, I have seen some artists that have mastered glitch art and have created some interesting works--like "Tim and Eric's Awesome Show Great Job." I really enjoy the post however and thank you!!