Ukiyo-e Heroes is a project by artist Jed Henry traditional woodblock printing craftsman Dave Bull, inspired by traditional Japanese ukiyo woodblock prints and modern Japanese video games. Each of these 12 prints print depicts classic videogame characters like Link, Mario, and Mega Man, rendered in ukiyo style. All 12 are available as high-quality digital prints, and some are also offered as woodblock prints handmade by Dave Bull. All prints are 12x17 inches in size and in full color. The handmade woodblock prints are made with traditional techniques using finely carved yamazakura (mountain cherry blossom tree) wood blocks and handmade Echizen Hosho paper.
For hundreds of years, Japanese woodblock printmakers worked in a thriving popular art scene. Their prints depicted heroes, villains and monsters, spanning every genre from satire, to romance, to horror. It was all part of Ukiyo, or Floating World culture. Inventive and fast-paced, Ukiyo culture was the big movement of its day.
That tradition has continued through the centuries, down to our modern day, where Japan is still known for its vibrant creativity. This heritage is especially evident in Japan's video game industry. Boss fights. Invulnerable heroes. Holy swords. Even the classic double-jump can be traced back to medieval Japanese legends. To celebrate Japan's contribution to video games, illustrator Jed Henry has taken his favorite game characters, and returned them to the ukiyo-e style. Modern costuming has been traded for the medieval, but the essence of each character remains, proving that you can't take the Ukiyo out of these modern pop icons.