The Yusaku Kamekura Design Award was established in 1999 to honor the achievements of the late graphic designer Yusaku Kamekura (1915-1997), and to contribute to the further development of the graphic design field. Operation of the award program and selection of the winner, chosen annually, are performed by the Japan Graphic Designers Association Inc. (JAGDA). JAGDA awards the prize to the designer whose works are judged most worthy among all entries featured in its yearbook, Graphic Design in Japan.
The 20th Yusaku Kamekura Design Award was bestowed on Norio Nakamura for his publicity poster and other poster works created for his solo exhibition at Creation Gallery G8 in January 2017. Mr. Nakamura originally worked for CBS Sony (now Sony Music Entertainment) before going freelance in 1997. He has continuously been active as a graphic designer with a unique worldview, his output including: main visuals for his “Measuring: This much, That much, How much?” exhibition at 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT; window displays for Ginza Maison Hermès; his series of graphic designs for the art unit “Maywa Denki”; editorial design for the Kokoku Hihyo advertising critique magazine (1999); and his “I.Q.” video game created for PlayStation together with Masahiko Sato. Recently, Nakamura’s first children’s picture book, Dottoko Zoo, won an “Honorable Mention” Bologna Ragazzi Award in Italy. He has also attracted attention for the Tokyo ADC Award he received for his posters created for the Matsuyama City Shiki Memorial Museum.
The publicity poster and new posters created for his one-man show at Creation Gallery G8 last year employ minimal lines and flat color surfaces to express life from a unique approach infused with a brilliant balance of humor. They garnered high acclaim for their “extremely human naiveté shunning reliance on technology” and Mr. Nakamura’s “successful discovery of a new ‘ore vein’ in graphics.”
Art director and graphic designer born in Kawasaki, Kanagawa. Upon graduating from the College of Art of Nihon University, Mr. Nakamura initially worked at CBS Sony (now Sony Music Entertainment) before going freelance in 1997. His main works include: his “Measuring: This much, That much, How much?” exhibition at 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT; window displays for Ginza Maison Hermès; graphic works for the Matsuyama City Shiki Memorial Museum, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, Kokoku Hihyo advertising critique magazine (1999), and the art unit “Maywa Denki”; the “I.Q.” PlayStation video game created with Masahiko Sato; and “Tetopetenson” for NHK’s “Minna no Uta” (Songs for Everyone). Mr. Nakamura has published a number of books (including collaborations with Masahiko Sato and Nobumichi Tosa) on advertising and other topics. His children’s picture book Dottoko Zoo won an “Honorable Mention” Bologna Ragazzi Award.
Message from the Award Winner
When I was just starting out, a mere 23 years old, I somehow managed to win a Mainichi Advertising Design Award, and at the awards ceremony at the Imperial Hotel I saw Yusaku Kamekura. In my excitement, I impudently rushed over and asked for his handshake, and he affably responded with a friendly smile on his face. His hand was warm and soft. Being a vapid young squirt with nothing in particular to say to someone of Mr. Kamekura’s caliber, I was nonetheless thrilled by the notion that, with this glorious first contact, I had taken my momentous first step into the world of graphic design. But as I proceeded to gaze at the many award-winning works and their creators at this dazzling event, my excitement gradually withered with the realization that I hadn’t yet started anywhere. I remember quite well how, on the spot, I told myself I should go back to my office and get to work, and I plodded my way back from Ginza.
That one handshake was my first, and last, contact with the luminary among luminaries in the realm of graphic design. It was a handshake that, in retrospect, seemed to be both welcoming and also gently repellent. I wonder what Mr. Kamekura thought of the cold hand of this shallow young bloke. Winning this award in his name now, many years later, is an honor I surely don’t deserve. Yet at the same time, for some reason, welling up inside me I sense the same feelings as that day when, treading in despair back from Ginza, I focused on my future. Mr. Kamekura always sought to create something new, something that would relate to the world through design. The warmth I felt in his hand that day still lingers in mine. I am more determined than ever to strive for better and better work.
CREATION GALLERY G8
Japan Graphic Designers Association Inc. (JAGDA)
Yusaku Kamekura Design Award Office
Yusaku Kamekura Design Award
The Yusaku Kamekura Design Award was established to honor the design achievements of the late Yusaku Kamekura (1915-1997), as a way of contributing to the ongoing development of the graphic design field. Made possible through a gift from the Kamekura family, the award program is operated by the Japan Graphic Designers Association Inc. (JAGDA), where Mr. Kamekura long served in the role of its founding president. Under this program, the “Yusaku Kamekura Design Award” is presented to the designer of the work or works deemed most outstanding among all entries for inclusion in the JAGDA yearbook, Graphic Design in Japan.
Mr. Kamekura loathed being forever identified for his connection to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and until just before his untimely death he eagerly vied against the younger generations of designers with works vibrantly “set in the present.” Through his editorial work for his graphic design magazine CREATION, he pursued the artistry and true essence of graphic design. Respecting his wishes, the award presented in his name honors graphic design that blends universal appeal with innovative creativity. Each award comes with a prize of JPY 500,000 and a plaque designed by Taku Satoh.
Previous Award Winners
Ikko Tanaka (1999), Kazumasa Nagai (2000), Kenya Hara (2001), Kashiwa Sato (2002), Masayoshi Nakajo (2003), Kazunari Hattori (2004), Mitsuo Katsui (2005), Shin Matsunaga (2007), Taku Satoh (2008), Ryosuke Uehara (2009), Katsumi Asaba (2010), Katsuhiko Shibuya (2012), Keiko Hirano (2013), Kaoru Kasai (2014), Kenjiro Sano (2015), Ken Miki (2016), Yoshie Watanabe (2017). (No works were judged worthy of the award in 2006 or 2011.)
Fri, June 29, 2018 in Niigata (at the site of JAGDA’s 2018 Regular General Assembly)
Publication of the Award-Winning Works
Mr. Nakamura’s award-winning works will be featured in Graphic Design in Japan 2018, scheduled for publication in June 2018 (Rikuyosha Co., Ltd. / Price: JPY 16,200)