The Japanese Textile Festival is a festival that I personally made up to fit the exhibition called “Artistry in Silk: The Kimono of Itchiku Kubota” that was shown in early 2018 on Itchiku Kubota’s kimonos at the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto. Kubota is a Japanese artist that is known for modernizing the traditional decorative tsujigahana method. The tsujigahana method is from the 16th century that is “a combination of resist dyeing techniques and ink-drawing.” The method disappeared “some 100 years later, only to be replaced by a more successful technique called ‘Yuzen’.” The disappearance of the technique is accounted for the fact that the original technique is still not known today. This is where Itchiku Kubota comes in, over 400 years later when the original technique was used and spent 20 years to try to reinvent the lost method, but eventually revived it into his own modern technique based off of the original one, hence naming it Itchiku Tsujigahana. The Textile Museum exhibited 41 kimonos designed and produced by the artist that made him a legacy as an artisan. In theory, the event would be a 3-day event. This 3-day event will include talks, workshops and tours of the featured exhibition, the art of tsujigahana/Itchiku tsujigahana techniques and other Japanese textiles that the Museum currently holds.
Since I was mostly focusing on Kubota’s kimonos, I also wanted to design this made up festival to make a connection between Canadians and Japan’s culture in order to promote the 90th anniversary (in 2018) of diplomatic relations. I wanted to build the relationship to Canadians that are interested in Japanese culture, as there is a large market of those interested in the Eastern-Asia countries, or to those who are simply interested in other cultures.
For the visual identity, I had to build it from the ground up, starting with advertising posters to what the opening page on the website would look like to finally a pamphlet that would be given at the event. Because the exhibition is being housed in a textile museum and is a big accomplishment in reviving a traditional technique in textiles, I decided to use the textiles seen in the exhibition to majority compose the patterns for the theme, which will draw on the uniqueness of Japanese textiles and the common patterns/motifs seen in them.
Posters Process Work
When I was first researching, I did a visual research on Japanese graphic design, to see what Japan’s usual style is: I found that they use a restricted colour palette (using 1-3 colours with one being emphasized) and minimal drawings/patterns (usually vectors) while using negative space as a principle. Another technique that I found recurring was an offset printing look to the posters. These design principles helped shape the layout and patterns I chose to recreate for the branding. I wanted to follow those principles in order to make a culturally rich branding.
After that, I researched Japanese textile books and sketched the patterns that are showcased in the books. I drew out a simplified version of the patterns and picked out visual elements. I did the same thing when I looked at Kubota's kimonos, where I specifically looked at how he painted the flowers and scenery. These preliminary research sketches helped me with figuring out what elements can work together and what sort of elements are most present in Japanese textiles. Some elements looked more abstract than others, or it could be very clear that it is representational and then some were symbolic because of the meaning of pattern. The different types of elements helped with categorizing/using them in the three approaches (abstract, representational, and symbolic) for the branding of the festival. From these themes, I chose to continue with the symbolic theme for the rest of the branding.