If I were born in the 1800's, I like to think I'd be a cowboy or an explorer or the inventor the Tesla Coil (Mufson Coil has a nice ring to it, no?), but if beloved animator Hayao Miyazaki was born a half century earlier, he might have been a wood printer in the vein of shin-hanga print artist Kawase Hasui. In a new series of posters from illustrator Bill Mudron, this alternate history is imagined as a mashup of Japanese cultural icons, casting peaceful settings from Miyazaki films like My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away, in Hasui's turn-of-the-century "new prints" style.
The idea for the series was planted during a viewing of a documentary about Studio Ghibli. "I just happened to see The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness last summer a week before getting my hands on a copy of a two-volume book about Kawase Hasui," Mudron tells The Creators Project. "I was so blown away by the Studio Ghibli documentary that a lot of it was still swirling around in my brain when I sat down to pore over Hasui's work, and so I thought trying to combine the aesthetics of both would be a fun experiment."
That experiment must have been a resounding success, since Mudron's online store has been so busy that he can't even take preorders anymore. We think this might have something to do with the compatibility of Hasui's style, not only with Miyazaki's work, but with American pop culture, too. "Of all the Japanese print artists that I've seen, Hasui's are definitely the most modern-looking—they often almost look like comic book art—and so marrying them to the aesthetics of a Miyazaki animated film wasn't too hard," Mudron says. He illustrates his prints entirely in Photoshop, constantly glancing between his screen, a stack of Studio Ghibli reference books, and the aforementioned two-volume book about Hasui. But getting the style down wasn't his biggest challenge, he explains: "The roughest part was balancing the colors, weirdly enough."
Check out some of Mudron's prints below, and keep an eye on his online store for the whole collection, or to order one for yourself.
For anime, androids, and Japanese pop culture, watch Postcards From Tomorrow: Inside Julie Watai’s Manga-Inspired Photography.
See Mudron's other projects, including illustrated video game maps and other fan art, on his website, and find more artists inspired by Miyazaki in the links below.