To illustrate exactly that what goes around comes around, “Star Wars”, which originally was inspired by the Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, is now inspiring a Japanese artist in creating a very special kind of art: ukiyo-e woodblock prints. The 17th-century Japanese prints perfectly suit Star Wars. The combination of the futuristic feel with the traditional technique of the craft yielded a special final product.
Masumi Ishikawa, the brains and steady hands behind the project seems to have hit the jackpot. Makuake, the crowd funding site, hosts the beautiful prints that are up for sale. The Japanese artist has already exceeded his goal by far, quickly reaching figures as high as 12 million yen (the equivalent of 96,000$).
What does the ukiyo technique entitle exactly? The e-prints start up as paintings that are hand carved by wood sculptors into wood blocks. The sculptor has to create various blocks in order to suit every color chosen by the painter. These act like huge stampers: the artist applies ink on the surface of the wood block and presses a piece of paper on it. The different layers of color are built up by using the specific wood blocks. This is a long, minute process that requires care for detail and a lot of patience. As a result, the final image is a one of a kind piece of art that will surely double or triple in value as the time goes by.
So what can avid Star Wars fans choose from? Prints of Darth Vade surrounded by flames and holding his lightsaber, scenes of Imperial snow walkers marching during the Battle of Hoth, and Queen Amidala accompanied by R2-D2. Each of these three compositions has been made in 200 copies, but taking in account their success, we can assume more of them will follow.
The dexterity and time that went into making these compositions managed to successfully reunite an old craft and a contemporary brand. Let’s take a closer look at the three prints that have taken the Star Wars fans by surprise making them dig deep in their pockets and pay $434 for each piece of art. You can rest assured each of the prints has been licensed by Lucas Films.
Darth Vader and his lightsaber are staples in the Star Wars cult, so a print entirely dedicated to him was in order. The composition is kept simple in this piece, with Darth Vader surrounded by flames, wielding his sword against a simple background. Of course, a picture doesn’t do justice to the original work of art, nonetheless it’s still impressive. The Darth Vader print was the first one to get sold out, but the following two prints are still available… at least for a few more hours.
In this one, Queen Amidala is accompanied by R2-D2 in the bottom left corner and Anakin Skywalker above. Her garment is rich and lush, which means it took painstakingly long hours to carve and paint the smallest details. Queen Amidala was created in the “beautiful person picture” style (Bijin-ga). This is again a simple yet powerful composition that any Star Wars fan would be glad to add to his collection.
Probably the most complicated piece of art of the three, this print illustrates the Battle of Hoth. In the thick of the battle you can notice the fuming wrecks against the plain white background of the snow.
Masumi Ishikawa’s initiative brought together three skilled artists: the “eshi” (painter), “horishi” (carver) and “surishi” (printer). In an effort to bring forth a forgotten craft by mixing it with a contemporary cult, he managed to make quite a stir among the Star Wars fans.