100 Masters of Bishojo Painting Overview
Today I have the pleasure of introducing an art book that has both great art and an interesting raison d’être. 100 Masters of Bishojo Painting is an art book that focuses on professional artists which work in the manga, visual novel, games, books and advertisement industries. It introduces you to 100 such artists, a lot of which are famous. You can find Kei (Hatsune Miku illustrator), Eiji Usatsuka (Zero No Tsukaima illustrator) and Aoi Nishimata (Shuffle game and anime designer) among others, but to be honest all of the artists represented in this book are gifted people and most of them have been working in their respective industries for quite some time now.
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This is a bilingual book, with every sentence appearing both in English and Japanese. The art book gives each artist two pages to introduce himself or herself to the readers. The first page features smaller pictures and information regarding the work background of said artist, while the second page is dedicated in its fullest to one impressive picture. 100 Masters of Bishojo Painting exist to portray drawings of beautiful girls but also doubles as an artists index. It gives you a rare opportunity to get to know the names and backgrounds of some artists that you might never would have heard of otherwise. It also points you in the direction of their website or Pixiv profile so that you may enjoy more of their works if you feel inclined to do so. The last two pages of the book reveal more inside information about the artists, such as their gender and blood type, what OS they are using and which editing software they prefer.
The joy of this art book comes from the fact that it is not narrow in scope. While seemingly confining its subject of portrayal exclusively to bishojo it gracefully allows artists from different backgrounds and industries to share their unique art styles. It is this blend of different styles and techniques that make this book that much more valuable and endearing. Most importantly, while almost all of the artists in this book are working in industries that are finely tuned to maximize sale figures in todays’ highly competitive Japanese consumption culture this book is here purely for the sake of showcasing art.
I would like to stress a bit more the importance of this book as an art showcase, specifically for manga and manga-related art. As you may know many current manga artists (or mangaka as they are called in Japan) began their careers as amateurs drawing for fun as part of doujinshi circles. This sub-culture of drawing doujinshi of popular series and relying on doujinshi as a way to express one’s art has continued uninterrupted until today. However the internet has opened several new ventures for artistic people with Pixiv shaping up to be the definitive place to showcase art that is inspired by or centers around manga. As the preface to100 Masters of Bishojo Painting points out the internet has become another venue for aspiring artists to promote their art. Artists can now use places like Pixiv and drawr as an art portfolio and an important reference in their CVs. And that is the real point that 100 Masters of Bishojo Painting tries to convey: that not only is the art of depicting manga is evolving, the means in which this art is represented within the global culture are evolving as well.