Yoshitaka Amano
This profile is from Amanosworld.com (1999):

Yoshitaka Amano was born in 1952 in a small town at the foot of Mount Fuji in Shizuoka, Japan. As a child, he reveled in making unbroken loops of drawings on the huge paper rolls that his brother brought home from his job at a paper factory. "I don't remember a time when I wasn't making drawings," he recalls.

While visiting a friend in Tokyo in 1967, he boldly took his paintings to the animation studio Tatsunoko Productions, creators of Space Ace and Mach Go Go Go. His talent was instantly recognized, and at the age of 15, his family reluctantly moved him to a company dormitory in the capital city. After a year of training, Amano took part in designing characters for many of Tatsunoko's greatest cartoons, including Gatchaman (released in the US as G-Force and Battle of the Planets), Hutch the Honeybee, and Cashaan: Robot Hunter.

Yet after fifteen years with the animation studio, Amano began to grow restless. He tendered his resignation at the age of 30, exchanging his established career for the precarious life of a freelancer. "Even the tax authorities questioned my decision," he remembers. "But once your life is too stable, your creative dies."

Amano soon gained a loyal audience through the Japanese publication Science Fiction Magazine, which serialized his work in their Twlight World feature. In 1984, he published his first collection of paintings, Maten (Evil Universe). He went on to collaborate with numerous writers, creating close to 20 illustrated books that have sold millions of copies. These works include Hideyuki Kikuchi's Vampire Hunter D, Kaoru Kurimonto's Guin Saga, Yoshiki Tanaka's Arslan Chronicals, and Rasen-O (Spiral King) and Chimera by Baku Yumemakura. At the same time, in 1984 he teamed up with director Mamoru Oshii to create the animated film Angel's Egg, which became a cult hit in Japan.

His artistic success won him access to yet another format in the 1980s; concept illustration for videogames. His first project, Final Fantasy, became an international hit. He also created character designs for the games Front Mission, Gun Hazard, Rebus (released as Kartia in the US), and Emblem of Eru (to be released in Japan by Capcom.)

In the early 1990s Amano immersed himself printmaking, and his color-drenched fantasy images became an instant hit with Japanese youth. Stage and costume design also claimed Amano's attention during this period, when the director and kabuki actor Tomasaburo commissioned his set designs for the productions of Nayotake, Yokihi and Kaijin Beso.

Amano pushed his boundaries even farther in 1997, when he began creating work in New York City. "New York" says Amano, "is my fantasy city, a place where I can dream freely and without constrictions of the known." His 1997 "Think Like Amano" exhibition in New York City's Puck Building presented a retrospective of his work, and debuted his series of ambitious New York paintings. In the fall of 1998 the exhibit travelled to Tokyo's Uenonomori Museum, where it drew record crowds.

1998 also saw the premiere of 1001 Nights, a collaborative film/music project with composer David Newman that was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The 3D computer graphic animated film was produced by Yukio Sonoyama and premiered as the inaugural event in the L.A. Philharmonic's innovative "Filmharmonic" series.

In the fall of 1999, Amano will present a multimedia exhibition of his new character Hero, open from October 6th through October 31st at the Angel Orensanz Foundation in New York City. Also in 1999, Amano has joined for the first time with Neil Gaiman to introduce a new edition of the wildly popular Sandman series.


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