Tadahiro Uesugi (update 2014)

Tadahiro Uesug, iillustration
I first wrote about Japanese illustrator Tadahiro Uesugi back in 2005, and again in 2010. While his awkwardly arranged website has unfortunately not been revised, his work is a fresh and wonderful as ever.

Influenced by an affection for 1950s and 1960s “modern” styles of American advertising art, Uesugi brings together a strong sense of design, perspective and geometry with a brilliant use of light and color to create deceptively simple but remarkably effective images.

Many of his illustrations are set in U.S. and European cities (as presumably are some of his clients), notably San Francisco and Paris.

He uses open areas and negative space with almost equal presence to his represented objects. Often, much more is suggested than presented. He adds deft touches of texture exactly where most appropriate.

Given the amazingly strong geometric foundation of his compositions, you might be tempted to think that his images are filled with straight lines, but they’re not. His lines are curved, slanted, skewed, broken and rough edged — anything but straight.

His subtle use of value is not what you might expect from work that seems so abstracted into basic forms, but in many ways, value relationships are at the heart of his compositions.

Light shimmers, slides, peeks and bounces through his images — slipping through cracks, hiding in doorways and bounding down alleys. Light is as much a character in Uesugi’s images as his frequent subjects of fashionable young women walking through urban environments.

His website is not as easy to browse as one might like. The home page is a jumble of mentions of projects and links to places other than his portfolio, all in Japanese. Just go directly to the bottom of the page, and on the little navigation bar at the very bottom, click “Illustration”. I can’t even give you a direct link because the damn thing is in frames.

You should see a row of thumbnails in the left column (frame) and a single image in the right. As you scroll down through the thumbnails, you’ll find that the last thumbnail, or bit of text, will be a link to the next set of thumbnails. The one good thing about the site is that there are at least a two or three hundred of his images there.

There is an interview with Uesugi about his concept art for the animated film Coraline on Animation World Network (see also my posts on Coraline).

3 Replies to “Tadahiro Uesugi (update 2014)”

    1. Thanks for the comment, Régis. I’m not surprised that you feel a affinity for Uesugi’s work, given your own fascination with the play of light on the streets and bridges of Paris.

      For the benefit of other readers: you can see Régis Pettinari’s beautiful paintings of Paris here, and my post on his work here.

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