Trends 2022: The Influence of Ukiyo-e on Contemporary Web Design

Published on:
May 25, 2022

The only constant in this world is change. While change brings excitement, newness, and adventure, it can often be tiring. Constant uncertainty makes us look for an escape. And talking about escape, what is better than familiarity?

Even in the fields of art, fashion, and designing, vintage is becoming a trend. People stop when they come across a relatable practice that evokes nostalgia. With vintage design becoming a thing again, Ukiyo-e styles are making a remarkable comeback too. 

In this article, MarsDevs presents you with an overview of Ukiyo-e and what your brand can do with it. With the design team, MarsDevs can help you develop the best.

Ukiyo-E in web designs
Ukiyo-E in web designs

What is Ukiyo-e?

Vintage web designs
Vintage web designs

Ukiyo-e is one of the most popular genres in Japanese art that thrived between the 17th to 19th century. The term Ukiyo-e means pictures of the floating world in English. Artists produced paintings and woodblock prints of subjects ranging from female beauties and folk tales to nature and landscapes. 
These pieces depicted the pleasures of Japanese cities back in the Edo period. They mirrored desirable characteristics of life that were often encouraged back then.
Art and design evolve through inspiration, and the Ukiyo-e art movement has greatly shaped Japanese and Western activities. The minimalistic designs use simple line designs, masterfully finishing the pieces with bold colors. The contrasts are simple and focus on vibrant and dramatic colors. This way the artist brings the flat or two-dimensional structures alive. 
Unlike Ukiyo-e in the past, modern artists experiment more with the genre. They have made a unique impression on the print by owning the creative process from start to finish. Ukiyo-e artists in the past used to work on both prints and paintings. However, now it is digital. 
Ukiyo-e artists did not distract with too many details. The designs had space to breathe, which allowed the linework to be purposeful. The background was natural and beautiful, and the colors just emphasized it. Several key components can help you identify a Ukiyo-e painting. Some of them are :

  • Flat colors.
  • Use of solid shapes or designs.
  • Clear and obvious line work in bold.
  • Bold and vibrant colors.
  • Cropped figures
  • Simplistic design style
  • Inspiration from nature
  • Exquisite background and asymmetrical character placement

The Ukiyo-E style: Themes and genres in Ukiyo-E.

Designs in web
Designs in web

Early Ukiyo-e paintings have a sophisticated knowledge of the standard classical principles of Chinese painting techniques. Slowly, the artists shed the Chinese principles and developed them into a native Japanese art form. 
Initially, the artists or primitives had to face the challenges of adapting to the traditional age-old techniques with the print medium. As time passed, Ukiyo-e became one of Japan's most famous art forms, which soon spread worldwide.
The Ukiyo-e designs have very bold, well-defined, flat lines. Earlier, the prints were monochromatic, with the lines as the only printed element in the piece. Even with the advent of new colors, the lines continued to dominate. 
The pieces drew attention to the horizontal and vertical relationships along with the other details. They had an asymmetrical composition with an unusual angled viewpoint. The artists cropped the elements of the designs, giving them a unique, spontaneous feel. Also, designers now use sharp colors in contrast to a more natural feel in the past.

Wood cutting in designs
Wood cutting in designs

Themes and Genres:

Among several other subjects, the artists explored the themes of female beauty, landscapes, and kabuki actors. Artists paid less attention to the details of the physical features and followed the beauty trends. The bodies were tall, faces were stereotyped and mainly depended on the definition of beauty in that particular era. Most on-demand orders were portraits of celebrities, especially from the field of Sumo or Kabuki world. 
Asian art depicts nature and landscapes as one of the integral components. Artists have studied and explored the concepts of human and plant anatomy extensively. The nature prints in Ukiyo-e were Kachō-e, and they reflected "flowers and birds" in pictures. The genre was open, and Hokusai's depictions made a genre out of Kachō-e.

MarsDevs Tips:

To get the Ukiyo-e feel, start with minimalism and finish with bold colors. The contrast between the simplicity and dramatic colors brings this art style to life. 
Focus on a simple subject to allow purposeful linework in the middle of a natural background. Want to incorporate some Ukiyo-e to your designs? Let MarsDevs guide your design team through the process. It saves you time, money, and resources.

How Video Games Revived The Dying Art Of Japanese Wood Printing?

Wood Printing

In 2012, a Youtuber and woodblock printmaker, David Bull started working on a project called Ukiyo-e Heroes with his contemporary artist Jed Henry. This project featured handcrafted woodblock prints inspired by classic pop culture and video games. When we talk about video games, we are talking about our favorite Pokemon, Mario Kart, etc. 
According to David, his partner Jed works on the research part while he gets these designs carved carefully onto the woodblocks. The wood they use is primarily Japanese Cherry Wood or Yamazakura. Then they transfer it to the sheets of the Echizen Hosho Washi papers. Even behind-the-scenes videos are incredible.
The video games like Mario Kart and others saved the floating world of Ukiyo-e. Though several visual artists from the east inspired the west, Ukiyo-e was one of the most prominent ones. Ukiyo-e had the same influence on culture between the 17th and 20th century as video games have on ours now. 

Principles of design and composition in Ukiyo-e based web designs.

Ukiyo e-heroes
Ukiyo e-heroes

Ukiyo-e inspired designs and codes

To identify a design, code, or presentation that Ukiyo-e styles inspire, you must know the basic principles and elements. You need not worry about the implementation now. We have a development team to guide you through.

  • Harmony
Colors and designs of web
Colors and designs of web

The color schemes in the image above are simple but powerful. Also, we are not looking at the original individual prints alone. They were produced and introduced in sets. So, the artists created the group to have the most impact.

  • Emphasis
Emphasis in designs
Emphasis in designs

Designs frame a view. Often, the views present a dramatic scene with cropped images in the foreground. The artists set the settings against a distant view. These scenes include candid views through the doors and windows as if someone is watching you from a distance. They look like pictures drawn in a frame.
The paintings have a monochromatic theme with flat colors highlighting the critical areas. The pictures even work in reverse. So, instead of being busy with objects and stories, they are simple. Because of this simplicity, the key elements or motifs dominate the drawings.

  • Balance.
Balance in web designs
Balance in web designs

If you look at Ukiyo-e paintings (the image above), you notice that the images used are asymmetrical. Often, the artists use large white spaces to balance small details of concentric areas. The objects that the art hides from the view are the more important ones. Your eyes get attracted to those objects or elements more.

  • Pattern
Patterns in web designs
Patterns in web designs

Say you are looking at the Ukiyo-e piece above, and the binding motif in the work is the waves. The artist primarily reduces these motifs in symbolic patterns. They also use different patterns together to bring depth, usually adjacent to the areas of calmness and flat colors.

  • Proportion
Proportions in web designs
Proportions in web designs

The set in the example above is mostly one plane or perspective if you look at the composition. They do not scale the motifs accurately either. The figures might seem more significant than in reality. So, the proportions of the figure are arbitrary, not actual. So, while they seem misplaced when you consider the surrounding, there is no certainty on the artist's intention.

  • Movement
Flat designs
Flat designs

The scenes often depict movements in the flat imagery. People are constantly in action, doing everyday chores and following a routine. A still setting is very unusual. Also, if they create a static image, the flat colors counterbalance its subject matter.

Ukiyo-e in the Modern World of Designing.

Design team
Design team

Minimalism is now a trend. But would it retain its position in the next ten years? The answer to this question depends on whether we would experience other design movements and trends or not. But as we progress, we come across a new trend of tapping into the customers' minds and awakening "nostalgia" through the designs.

Ukiyo-e, as discussed earlier, takes us back to the 17th-century Japanese art trends. They awaken a new perspective that involves how we view the world, connecting the reality and the dream world. Our society is moving on to the era of technology. 
The future depicted in films, architecture, designs, and paintings included a relationship with the neon color schemes with flat world images. 
The world has become a more innovative and creative space with the advancement of the internet. You never know what's next. There is a sense of adventure and uncertainty, and we often get tired of it. So, we crave familiarity and go back in time when it comes to trends.
But, these designs are not just about vintage aesthetics. They depict the future in a way the past imagined it. And when we combine the idea of the floating world with the imaginative and unrealistic view of the future, it is fascinating for the designer and the audience. Also, we all relate to the effect of "loneliness."
For instance, take the LoFi music trends. Even the biggest bop of the year translates into lonely imagery that makes you feel different. It creates a similar mood as a Ukiyo-e-based design or Vaporwave. We all feel lonely, lost in a floating world.

MarsDevs Tips: How can you incorporate Ukiyo-E in your brand’s designs?

Best designs web
Best designs web

There are many aspects of Ukiyo-e that you can incorporate into your marketing and advertising designs. Using this traditional art form, you can introduce something new and stand out from your competitors. The Ukiyo-e styles are unique, eye-catching, and versatile. They make the designs more simplistic with a more traditional yet bolder approach. 
Some designers derive inspiration from the characteristics of landscapes. They use mountains with bold strokes as the focal point of their designs. The portrayal of women in Ukiyo-e paintings has also been an inspiration for several modern brands over the years. Even after such a long time, this proves that Ukiyo-e styles are still relevant.

Vintage technique in web
Vintage technique in web

The Ukiyo-e technique translates several characteristics, and designers are making the best out of it. Flat designs are one of the new trends coming up, and you need to grab the opportunity faster than others. Being an innovative brand, you should also know where to incorporate them. Doing everything yourself is tough, and you need a development team to guide your design team as well. 

Incorporate Ukiyo-E in your web designs with the best development team guiding you.

Different styles catch eyeballs. Ukiyo-E is an excellent way to incorporate vintage into contemporary web designs. However, you need more than just a gift wrap over your idea. You need a strategic user-centric approach to it. MarsDevs can guide your design team and collaborate to work better. MarsDevs is known for its amazing UI and animations to guide you navigate through the site.

So, let us discuss possibilities with a cup of coffee and a short virtual meet and greet. While you discuss your requirements, we can present our expertise before we get going. Well, innovation is not just about an idea right now. It is about executing it and making it functional for the users. 

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