Celebrate the Land of the Rising Sun with this dramatic and graphically detailed T-Shirt print trend.
Japanese inspired design is too strong to ignore, with references drawn from both ancient and modern traditions and Japanese street culture. Bold colors, exaggerated character designs, unique typography and detailed illustrations makes the Japanese design aesthetic instantly recognizable.
T-Shirt prints draw inspiration from traditional Japanese artwork, pattern and tattoo design. Symbolic creatures such as dragons, snakes, tigers and koi fish dominate and Japanese typography takes its cues from the modern streets of Tokyo, creating killer print combinations.
So let’s take a trip to the east and explore the most symbolic and timeless elements of Japanese design influencing this T-Shirt print trend.
1- Enter the Dragon
Arguably the most recognizable creature in Japanese iconography is the Dragon. Dragons are believed to bring prosperity and avoid evils. The dragon is also widely regarded as a symbol of fortune or royalty. Dragon illustrations are extremely versatile with their unique structure enabling dynamic print compositions, bold colors and powerful expression.
2- Irezumi- Japanese Tattoo
Japanese tattoos, called Irezumi have a long rich cultural history from aristocracy to the Yakuza - Japanese Mafia. The designs are powerful, striking and timeless. Japanese tattoo’s are distinctive for their dense detail, symbolic meaning and extensive color palettes making them perfect inspiration for T-Shirt print design.
3- Rising Sun
The rising sun is a recurring design element seen in many Japanese inspired graphics. This distinctive red disk is taken from the Japanese flag and reflects Japans strong connection to the sun. This symbolic element works best against monochromatic design elements, creating a highlight to draw attention.
4- Eye of the Tiger
The Japanese tiger tattoo carries with it the same traits we attribute to the real animal–strength and courage, but is also a protector against evil spirits. The tigers distinctive coat influences color and its fierce expression adds strength to T-Shirt print designs.
5- Koi Fish
Koi fish are of a large significance to the Japanese. They symbolize luck, fortune, abundance, and perseverance. Their beauty can be translated into T-Shirt print design in many forms with their fluid forms creating elegant print compositions.
6- Kanji Typography
Another recurring design element in Japanese inspired T-Shirt design is the use of both Japanese and English characters in typography. There are over 2,000 characters in 3 different scripts in the Japanese language. Kanji is the logographic Chinese characters along with Katakana, Hiragana. Print designs combine traditional characters with english font styles inspired by the shapes of Japanese Kanji.
The samurai is a heroic and symbolic warrior in Japanese history. Usually highly illustrated in design, the Samurai is represented in it’s traditional heroic form or in a dark and menacing form for a more sinister twist in this T-Shirt trend.
8- The Great Wave
"The Great Wave of Kanagawa," a woodblock print by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai is one of the world's most iconic pieces of Asian art. The fluid movement of the great wave provides inspiration for print layout or as a design detail. Water, or waves, signify power and resilience.
9- Extreme Detail
It would be fair to say that minimalism does not have as large of a place in Japanese design as it does in many western design aesthetics. The story telling nature of traditional Japanese art and tattoo design lends itself to information packed and densely packed design compositions. Fine illustration, pattern, color and typography are combined creatively in T-Shirt adaptations of this story telling style.
(All images are sourced from DownloadT-ShirtDesigns and Pinterest. The images above are mood boards only and not for resale)
Check out our Extreme Orient inspired designs ready to download now
Find inspiration quickly with our digital library of 1000+ T-Shirt Designs & All-Over-Pattern-Print-Designs. Click here to view our range of designs.