The Complete Commercial Artist: Making Modern Design in Japan, 1928–1930

Gennifer Weisenfeld

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Letterform Archive
Publication Date:
March 12, 2024
10⅜ × 7⅞ inches
4 colors throughout
Paperback with jacket and vellum belly band
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A revelatory, beautifully produced compendium of the influential Japanese commercial design journal, with posters, billboards, shop window displays and more

From 1928 to 1930, Tokyo publisher Ars issued The Complete Commercial Artist: a fully illustrated journal of commercial design for both commercial retail spaces and print. Across its 24 issues, volumes were dedicated to topics ranging from posters, packaging, flyers, page layout and typography to neon signage, billboards and shop window displays. The publication’s lead writer, Hamada Masuji, was a passionate advocate for commercial design, and he ensured that its audience included both large manufacturing companies and small businesses, as well as design aficionados in Japan.

This generous volume from Letterform Archive Books shares hundreds of exuberant and whimsical pages from all 24 issues of the now-rare publication. An accompanying essay and volume walkthroughs by art historian Gennifer Weisenfeld introduces readers to the magazine’s creators and offers analysis into their use of illustration, photography, typography and lettering, highlighting both Japanese and European influences as new forms of media sparked a global dialogue.

Presented for the first time to an English audience,
The Complete Commercial Artist: Making Modern Design in Japan 1928–1930 takes readers on an eye-opening tour of interwar Japan’s vibrant visual culture.