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Artist Creates Hayao Miyazaki Tribute Art for the Animation Master’s 77th Birthday

Artist Creates Hayao Miyazaki Tribute Art for the Animation Master’s 77th Birthday

As the founder of Studio Ghibli and director of masterpieces like My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle, animator Hayao Miyazaki has proved an inspiration for generations of artists. Martin Hsu, a former commercial designer for Disney Animation and Nickelodeon and a talented painter and illustrator, is one of the countless artists who finds inspiration in Miyazaki and his work.

Back in 2011, Hsu did a sketch for Miyazaki’s 70th birthday on little more than a whim. Since then, Hsu has made a drawing every year on January 5 to pay his respect to the master, culminating in a series he calls “Morning Strolls.”

“’Morning Strolls’ illustrates Miyazaki-sensei with his eyes closed, deep in thought with a gentle smile, taking a stroll early in the morning somewhere on the outskirts of Tokyo,” Hsu tells Nerdist. “In each image, he’s accompanied by imaginary creatures he has created, such as baby Ohmu from Nausicaa [of the Valley of the Wind], Jiji from Kiki’s Delivery Service, Kodama from Princess Mononoke, and Totoro.”

Hsu continues, “Like most artists, I’m often surrounded by creatures of my own on long walks. Goldfish Mermaids and Dragon Dogs majestically lead the way for me in San Francisco. The intent for ‘Morning Strolls’ is to satisfy this personal fantasy of commonality with Miyazaki-sensei, and to hopefully provide a moment of peace and inspiration when we need it.”

While a tribute to Miyazaki, the character is partially inspired by Hsu’s own grandfather, who wore glasses and used to go on plenty of walks.

“Morning Strolls” was originally created using graphite on craft paper, with white acrylic to accent Miyazaki’s hair. Hsu decided to introduce watercolor with gold acrylic, and has also recently experimented with kizara: thin sheets of Japanese pine shaved individually from a single block of wood. Traditionally used to wrap food in Japan, the medium is also used as writing and drawing pads.

It’s hard for many Ghibli fans to choose their favorite movie, but Princess Mononoke stands out as one of Hsu’s favorites. “I appreciate its originality based on years of research and understanding of Japanese history, folklore, and geography,” Hsu says. “I’m inspired by a narrative rooted deeply in tradition that raises awareness in contemporary issues. I’m also a big fan of giant wolves, mystical guardians, old deities, new gods, and fearless ladies. All elements I try to explore in my personal artwork.”

Hsu will be continuing his birthday tribute to Miyazaki by releasing his “Morning Strolls 2018” artwork online on January 5, 2018, when Miyazaki turns 77 years old. Look out for other fun projects from the artist, like a Miya-san tribute figure.

Check out more of Martin Hsu’s work on www.martinhsu.com, @martinhsuart and @martinhsudesign on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Are you inspired by Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli? Let us know in the comments!

Images: Martin Hsu

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