Katsushika Hokusai was a Japanese artist born on October 23, 1760 in Edo Japan. He left an enduring legacy of art that still influences the world today in many forms that range from fine arts, fabric patterns, and Manga.

In the west he is most famous for his work "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji", a series of landscapes that depicts Mount Fuji from different points of view and in different seasons. From this series "The Great Wave of Kanagawa" is the most widely recognized. "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji" was created by Hokusai in the 1830's while he was working under the name "Gakyō Rōjin Manji", which translates to "The Old Man Mad About Art".

Iitsu and New Models for Kimonos

During his life Katsushika Hokusai changed his name over thirty times. His frequent name changes often directly correlated to changes in his artist style and therefore are helpful in breaking his artwork into periods. When Hokusai turned sixty he changed his name to Iitsu, a name he kept for thirteen years. It was during this period that he create his masterpiece "Shingata Komon Cho" or "New Models for Kimono Patterns". This book, which is now housed at the British Museum, had a huge influence on the patterns that were used for Kimonos, as well as Sashiko patterns, and these patterns can still be seen as an influence in modern day fabrics. You can see Hokusai's influence in some of the patterns used on many of the Olaf Olsson neckties and bow ties such as the Indigo Patchwork Necktie and Batwing Bow Tie.

Taito and Manga

Before he changed his name to Iitsu he was known as Taito, a name he took when he turned fifty-one. It was during this period that he created one of his largest works the Hokusai Manga. This multi volume collection of over 4,000 sketches is considered by some to be the precedent to modern day Manga. The massive collection contains sketches of animals, everyday people, and religious figures, many with humorous overtones. The Hokusai Manga was very popular when it was published and still translate well today as a beautiful examination of life and people.

Tatsuta River with red maple leaves

Hokusai had a long and prodigious career and his fame as an artist grew along a steady upward trajectory. He produced most of his work after he was 60, much of his which is still influential today. This was due both to his talent as an artist and his mastery of self-promotion. It has been said that he created a 600" portrait of a Buddhist priest using a broom and buckets of ink. He once won a competition that was put on by a Shogun Lord by painting a blue curve on a long piece of paper and then chasing a chicken, who's feet had been dipped in red paint, across the paper. Hokusai describe the painting as the Tatsuta River with red maple leaves floating on it.

Here's a link to a great interview about Katsushika Hokusai

Checkout our Pinterest board about Katsushika Hokusai.

April 12, 2020 — Olaf Olsson