IKKO TANAKA is widely thought of as the father of graphic design in Japan. He graduated from the Kyoto City College of Fine Art in 1950, then worked for a Japanese publisher as a graphic designer. In the 60's he established his own studio. The main characteristic of his designs is a blending of deeply rooted Japanese traditions with western modernism. Inspired by sources as diverse as traditional Japanese illustration techniques and his passion for American jazz, he is renowned for numerous cultural posters and programmes for theatre and ballet, many for Kanze Noh Drama.
With his bold use of color, Tanaka expanded the possibilities of Japanese graphic design. His ultimate mission was beauty. Like Mondrian, he is restrained in his juxtaposition of different hues -- and the result is just as energetic. But unlike Mondrian, Tanaka does not create abstract compositions. He is very conscious that graphic design is intended to communicate to a general public. Posters, according to Tanaka, are everyday vehicles of beauty and values that must be comprehensible.
A master of typography, he was known for his crisp, abstract imagery, meticulous sense of colour and elimination of all inconsequential detail. As a driving force of minimalism, Tanaka is a master of rendering the complex simple
Ikko Tanaka's work includes the design of the symbols for Expo '85 in Tsukuba and World City Expo Tokyo '96. Amongst others he has worked for the Seibu Saison Group, The International Garden and Greenery Exposition, Hanae Mori, Issey Miyake, and the Mazda Corporation. Tanaka has curated and designed exhibitions for the Victoria and Albert Museum (London) and throughout Japan. Tanaka also designed the symbols and signage for the Tokyo Olympics as well as the medals.