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More Fun on the Computer

Hideki Itoh is not a street artist like the other artists that are introduced on these pages. He is obviously more matured, but his art is also not traditional street art.

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Hideki ItohItoh’s art does not appear on the streets that we walk on the way to work and school. His art appears on the virtual streets of the World Wide Web. But on these virtual streets Itoh’s art is, in spite of its teeny tiny size, distinct and striking. Itoh creates icons. Icons that stand out because they are amazingly cute and a beautiful mix of East and West, tradition and pop culture. Icons that look exactly like delicious morsels of traditional Japanese sushi, share space with icons of Star War and Thunderbird figures. His Apple icons are famous and found all over. His food items look so appetizing you want to enlarge them and take a bite. His grocery, home and office supply icons so real they could be used in ads. He has made icons of guitars that are just plain cool. Itoh’s icons rock.

Shibuya

Itoh was born in Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya, but has been living in Camarillo, California since 1992. Although he occasionally slams straight into the language and culture barrier, he feels right at home in sunny California. “I really enjoy my life here in California,” he says. “It suits me more than the life in Japan. The living environment is much better. There is warm weather all through the year. No commuting in packed trains every morning (my office is just 3 minutes away from home), and there is lots of green, large houses, etc…” Itoh also doesn’t miss the strict regimentation that still pervades some parts of Japanese society. “Here I feel more openness and freedom somehow.”

Hideki Itoh

Japanese Snacks

Hideki Itoh

Sushi

Macintosh & Icons

Extremely important in Itoh’s professional life was his encounter with Apple’s Macintosh computer. “Of course, there were more important things in my life, like love, friends, etc., but when it comes to my career and art, my encounter with the Macintosh computer is the most important and biggest event.” Hideki ItohIn 1986 he got the now classic Macintosh SE. His first encounter with icons came when he stopped by he site IconTown while surfing on the net. It was love at first site. “I found it interesting that I could be part of small community of people from all around the world. I thought it would be nice to create a small town together with people from other countries where you have never visited or will never visit.” The site also awakened memories of his youth. “I like miniature things since my childhood. When I was a kid, I was into plastic model and diorama making. There are some similarities.”

Style

His current style of 3D perspective icons featuring 256 colors was born in 1996. It is Itoh’s exquisite use of the 256 colors and three dimensions that make his icons so cute and attractive. Yet, Itoh himself is extremely modest about his own creations. “I think my icons do not show strong originality like some other famous icon artists do. I try to make them neat, simple and cute. The detail and color gradation of my icons is not what I intend. I never try to make them realistic, but try to capture the cuteness and neatness. I want to capture the characteristics of the object and try to realize these characteristics in the small icons as much as possible. I also try to add some fun to my icons so that they make people smile.”

Oden

Itoh’s icons are about everything because he is inspired by everything. “I just look around and pick up things that I see, that I use, or that I want. Sometimes I am inspired by things I see in an ad, a magazine or a movie.” He may be interested in everything, he does have his own favorites among his extensive collection of icons. Hideki Itoh“The oden (Japanese food) icons. These are the ones which made me feel confident about my icon creation, and which established my icon style.”

Heroes

Being admired quite a lot among Web surfers, does Itoh himself have any icon artists that he looks up to? “I admire MOZCO ! GARASH!, IronDevill, Ehterbrian and IconFactory. They are my most favorite icon artists. When I first started making icons, I learned many things, like technique and style, from their icons, especially from Etherbrian’s icons.”

Is there anything in life that is more important than making icons? “Well, I don’t know… maybe myself. I would like to say my wife and family, but currently I am single…” Does this master of a miniature world have a message to the world at large? “I just want people to enjoy my icons and use them on their computers to make their computer life a bit more fun.”

Hideki Itoh

Sony’s Aibo

Hideki Itoh

Cleaning

Hideki Itoh

American Kitchen

Hideki Itoh

Japanese Kitchen

Hideki Itoh

Star Wars

Hideki Itoh

Thunderbirds

Hideki Itoh

Bento (Japanese Lunch Box Items)

Hideki Itoh

Bento (Japanese Lunch Box Items)

Photography & Art: © copyright Hideki Itoh

Kjeld Duits About the Author

Inspired by the stunningly creative street fashion that exploded on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka in the late 1990’s, photo-journalist Kjeld Duits launched JAPANESE STREETS in 2002. This makes JS one of the first fashion blogs on the net, and the very first to cover Japanese street fashion.

Recent articles by Kjeld Duits:

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