Why does most Japanese clipart look the same? [free illustrations source]
If you have ever visited Japan (or like me, interested in various random aspects within Japan and other countries), you’ll start noticing that most, if not all, Japanese clipart or illustrations look the same. Up to the point one could guess that the Japanese Government has standardized the art style to use all over.
However, the simple answer is that all those illustrations are made by a single person: Mifuni Takashi.
Since the 21st of January 2012, he started uploading illustrations regularly to his website. And now, these illustrations could be found everywhere in Japan; by the Japanese government, to news articles, to health insurance, to commercial posters and to even by the teachers in various language classes.
So why does everyone in Japan uses it?
Simply: It’s beautiful, all are similarly styled and could be used alongside other illustrations (thanks to it being a one-man-show), comprehensive to many detailed usage, and free*. All of the images are very easy to get from a search bar in his website. Takashi never had an interview because he believed he ‘was bad at interviews’, but a blogger once confirmed from the artist that his art omits pockets and strong colours so that they could be used even if reversed or by people with various degrees of colour-blindness (the color scheme complies with CUD — Color Universal Design). How considerate!
Yes. Upto 20 images can be used for free, after that it’s 1000¥ (3.5 Rials or $9) for commercial uses. And if its for any educational use; it is free regardless. Only rule was for it to ‘not to be used for something illegal’.
But how does he make money?
Other than the commercial use of more than 20 images, he has a few ads on his website and collaborations with big companies (with Pokemon and other anime).
Irasutoya (Japanese: いらすとや). The name came from Japanese words for “illustration” (イラスト irasuto) and “shop” (屋 ya)converted into hiragana.
Tip: there is an English search bar on the left of the homepage, and remember to click on any image first to take highest quality.
This is all but a great lesson on Ehsān or belovance by Takashi to his country. Asking nothing for return, while making everyday material in his country visually clean, clear and educational.
Sometimes, one person could change the world to a better place.