Soundwave off Kanagawa Art print (神奈川沖音波)

Following the latest uchi print based on The Great Wave off Kanagawa (神奈川沖浪裏), we look at the Ukiyo-e traditional Japanese woodblock prints and in particular the works of ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai.

Soundwave off Kanagawa

Fine art print

A fine art print of an original illustration based on The Great Wave off Kanagawa (神奈川沖浪裏) Japanese woodblock print by ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai.

Available in A3, A2 and A1 fine art paper prints. Signed by the artist.uchi clothing's Soundwave off Kanagawa

Pictures of the Floating World

Totoya Hokkei: Girl Painting Dragon

Totoya Hokkei: Girl Painting Dragon

Ukiyo-e refers to the Japanese paintings and woodblock prints that emerged in Japan’s Edo period (1615-1868). These affordable prints captured everyday Japanese life; stylish courtesans, kabuki theatres, sumō wrestlers, historical events, landscapes and erotica. Ukiyo-e (浮世絵), although often translated as “pictures of the floating world,” literally means “Pictures of the fleeting world”, that is the fleeting secular world. As such, the paintings and prints were more appealing and diverse than art of the ruling Shōgun class.

Not only did the ukiyo-e prints document the leisure activities and climate of the era, they also showcased Japanese aesthetics of beauty, nature and spirituality to the outside world and was central to forming the West’s perhaps misleading perception of Japanese culture. The development of multicoloured printing led to mass-marketing and increased popularity, and by the mid-19th century a print could run into the thousands. At this time the Japanese arts were ‘trending’ in Western culture and had a strong influence on early Impressionists and Art Nouveau artists such as Monet, Vincent van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec. Today, ukiyo-e is still the best know style of Japanese painting.

Katsushika Hokusai had more aliases than a Wu-Tang Clan member

Born in what is known now as Tokyo in 1760 Katsushika Hokusai began painting early in life. His name as a child was “Tokitarō” and at 14 began honing his skills as an apprentice wood-carver. He then studied under the ukiyo-e artist Katsukawa Shunshō who would give him a new name “Shunrō” and from whose school he would eventually be expelled. An inspiring time for an artist, he is quoted as saying “What really motivated the development of my artistic style was the embarrassment I suffered at Shunkō’s hands.” He now had a new focus. Instead of the usual courtesans and Kabuki images practiced by artists like his former master, he focused on landscapes and the portrayal of everyday Japanese society, changing both his career and ukiyo-e art.

In 1811 at the age of 51, Hokusai changed his name to “Taito” and begun his largest body of work, Hokusai Manga (北斎漫画). This was a 15-volume collection of sketches featuring animals, religious figures, everyday people, objects, landscapes, dragons, the list goes on. They have been compared to Rembrandt and Van Gogh’s work, for “the thrilling panorama they provide both of the world and of Hokusai’s imagination”.

One Again

On his sixtieth birthday in 1820, Hokusai changed his name to “Iitsu” meaning “one again”. It was during this period he would make one of his most celebrated print series, Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji. Published between 1830 and 1832, this series included the famous Great Wave off Kanagawa. Due to it’s popularity, ten more prints were later added. And then, in 1834 under the new pseudonym “Gakyō Rōjin Manji” (The Old Man Mad About Art) he published One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji (富嶽百景 Fugaku Hyakkei), a work which “is generally considered the masterpiece among his landscape picture books”.

Katsushika Hokusai: The Great Wave off Kanagawa

Katsushika Hokusai: The Great Wave off Kanagawa

Among the other popular series of prints he published during this time are A Tour of the Waterfalls of the Provinces and Unusual Views of Celebrated Bridges in the Provinces. He later began producing a number of detailed individual images of flowers and birds, including the extraordinarily detailed Poppies and Flock of Chickens. He died after a short illness in 1849, aged 90.

Katsushika Hokusai: Flock of Chickens

Katsushika Hokusai: Flock of Chickens

From the age of six I had a mania for drawing the shapes of things. When I was 50 I had published a universe of designs. But all I have done before the age of 70 is not worth bothering with. At 75 I’ll have learned something of the pattern of nature, of animals, of plants, of trees, birds, fish and insects. When I am 80 you will see real progress. At 90 I shall have cut my way deeply into the mystery of life itself. At 100, I shall be a marvellous artist. At 110, everything I create; a dot, a line, will jump to life as never before. To all of you who are going to live as long as I do, I promise to keep my word. I am writing this in my old age. I used to call myself Hokusai, but today I sign my self ‘The Old Man Mad About Drawing’.

Woodblock printing in Japan

Woodblock printing in Japan (木版画, mokuhanga) was also used for printing books long before the advent of movable type. Woodblock printing had been used in China for centuries but was widely adopted in Japan during the Edo period. Although similar to woodcut in Western printmaking in some regards, the mokuhanga technique uses water-based inks as opposed to oil-based inks primarily used in western woodcuts. The Japanese water-based inks provide a wide range of vivid colors, glazes, and transparency.

I am a huge fan of woodblock prints, especially those by Japanese artists, past and present. Coming from a print background myself, I’ve always admired the results of fine draftsmanship and quality that relief printing can achieve. Woodblock printing involves carving the desired pattern onto a large block, covering that design in ink or dye, and stamping it onto the fabric. I only wish I had the skill and patience that woodblock artists have. As a screen printer however, I am looking forward to screen printing the Soundwave off Kanagawa and seeing the difference between the digital version and a woodblock print.

Soundwave off Kanagawa

I like the idea of a synergy between all the different elements and how they could be affecting each other. How the waves might be responding to the sound from the boat. Are the people in the boat responding to what the deejay is playing or the approaching wave? And, on a science geek tip, I also like the idea of symbolizing sound waves (longitudinal waves) and sea waves (transverse waves).

Tea house at Koishikawa. The morning after a snowfall

Tea house at Koishikawa. The morning after a snowfall

Protect Ya Neck - Wu-Tang Clan Pop Art hand screen print

Pop Art inspired Wu-Tang editioned Art Prints and T Shirts

Protect Ya Neck screen print

20 Limited Edition Screen Prints
(16 three colour prints and 4 two colour prints).

Printed on 300gsm Somerset Satin acid free paper. Print size 42 x 42cm.
Signed and numbered by the artist.
Also available as fine art paper prints and T shirts.

Ohhh…Alright… So a Pop Art parady, then?

During the 1960s, Roy Fox Lichtenstein, along with Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, David Hockney and Peter Blake and others, became leading figures in the new postmodernist Pop Art movement. Drawing inspiration from mass media, advertising and commercial imagery their work defined the premise of pop art through parody and critique.  One of his most famous paintings Whaam! is currently on permanent display at Tate Modern.

Ohhh...Alright source

This particular piece is a parody of Roy Lichenstens’ “Oohh Alright” painting. However as I am a bigger fan of comic books,  Lichtenstein’s  original inspiration, the June 1963 edition of Secret Hearts #88 was the reference for this image.

Protect Ya Neck detail by uchi

Because I also love typography and print and to add that extra twist, the traditional Ben-Day dots, used for the mass printing of comic books and mimicked in paint on “Ooh Alright”, have been replaced with the “Protect Ya Neck” song lyrics.

Shop Protect Ya Neck products

You best protect ya neck

Protect Ya Neck” is the first official single from Wu Tang Clan’s critically acclaimed first album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Produced by The RZA, it features eight of the original nine group members.

Enter the Wu-Tang

In 1993, when the Wu-Tang Clan first emerged, Hip Hop as a whole was not considered Pop culture. The Wu-Tang Clan’s distinctly New York underground sound was far too ‘radio unfriendly’ to be commercially mainstream, at least not by today’s standard. At that time, production values were giving Hip Hop a more polished sound that appealed to a broader audience. In contrast the Wu-Tangs’ stripped back sound, choppy samples and rhyme flows didn’t allow for formulaic radio play and was definitely underground.

Despite this, the Wu-Tang Clan helped pave the way for a ‘back-to-basics Hip Hop’ wave of new artists and crews. Their first album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) sold 30,000 copies in the 1st week, achieved Platinum status within two years and is widely regarded as one of the most influential Hip Hop albums of all time and one of the most significant albums of the 1990s.

Parody, irony, satire?

The Pop Art movement raised questions about mass consumerism and western values. It was a revolt against traditional views on what art should be. Hip Hop was born from the revolution of marginalized communities, giving expression to the political and socially unheard around the world. Both challenged the status quo and were rejected as art by critics and the mainstream.

Today, Pop Art is one of the most recognizable styles of modern art and Hip Hop is the most popular genre of music.  It may or not be ironic that Pop Art and Hip Hop culture have had such a huge impact on the commercial world despite their revolutionary roots of anti-establishment expressions and cynical views on mass consumerism.

Mens T shirt – Looking for the Perfect Beat – CMYK Edition by uchi cothing

We may have found for the Perfect Full Colour uchi T shirt Over Here

Latest to drop Over Here is a classic T shirt from uchi clothing remixed and given a full colour makeover. Looking for the Perfect Beat is the 34th uchi release appearing on uchi’s fourth album Soliloquy of Chaos.

The year is 2034. The last dejays on the planet search the vast wastelands of the earth’s vinyl looking for the perfect beat that will save humanity… Have you found yours?

Based on the 1983 track “Looking for the Perfect Beat” by Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force.

Buy Looking for the Perfect Beat – CMYK Edition

Mens T shirt – Looking for the Perfect Beat – CMYK Edition by uchi cothingLooking for the Perfect Beat – CMYK Edition T shirts and art prints by uchi cothing

Bob T shirt by Mild West Heroes

Meet Bob – A Mild West Heroes T shirt

Bob is big, bold and he doesn’t mess about. He’s big and red now but one day he might just turn green! So watch out.

Original design by Dixon Does Doodles.
Hand printed in Bristol by Mild West Heroes on Fairtrade organic cotton T shirts.
Bob is available in store OVER HERE!