Shigeo Fukuda

Shigeo Fukuda was a sculptor, graphic artist and poster designer who created optical illusions. His art pieces usually portray deception.

Fukuda was born in 1932 in Tokyo, Japan to a family primarily employed as toy makers. Early in his adulthood he had an interest in the principles of Swiss design and starting in 1956 he attended the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music. He was the first Japanese designer to be inducted into the New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame.

Shigeo creates startlingly bare poster designs of logo-like simplicity content which is always expertly composed. Fukuda’s work experiments boldly with perspective, negative space and the visual and geometric interplay between elements on the page, often disorientating the viewer with its constructed depth and irregular visual planes. His designs utilize a minimal, considered line occasionally punctuated with infill.

One of his most famous works is entitled Victory 1945 and it won him a grand prize at the Warsaw Poster Contest in 1975, a competition whose proceeds helped fun the Peace Fund Movement. Much of his work was designed to make a social impact rather than commercial and he was a strong advocate for pacifism and environmentalism.

Shigeo was not only a designer he also practiced sculpture, one example of which was a large sculpture of silverware that resembled a helmet but cast an intricate shadow of a motorcycle titled Lunch with a helmet on.

Fukuda’s trademark style developed from an early interest in Swiss graphic design and its stark contrast to contemporary Japanese work. The limited colour palettes and reductive line work remained at the heart of his work until his death in 2009.

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