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Nicolás Castell’s Ukiyo-e Tale

By Charles Purdy

In this series, a Spanish illustrator weaves a tale about a traveler who finds a magic pen that allows him to create anything he wants.

Ukiyo-e is a Japanese art form that dates back to the 17th century (the word ukiyo-e is translated as “pictures of the floating world”). Traditionally, its practitioners produced woodblock prints and paintings with subjects such as historical scenes, landscapes, erotica, and folk tales.

Using paper, ink, and Adobe Photoshop, Nicolás Castell pays tribute to this art form in a narrative series of prints, which make up a modern folk tale: they tell the story of a foreign artist in ancient Japan. Castell says, “The influence of Japan in my work is evident—I wanted to create a story placed in this marvelous country, as an homage to the aesthetics of ukiyo-e.”

It's stunning illustration work. Keep scrolling to see sketches!

ukiyo-e image by Nicolas Castell, showing a walking man
ukiyo-e image by Nicolas Castell, showing fish and a magic pen
ukiyo-e image by Nicolas Castell, showing a man drawing
ukiyo-e image by Nicolas Castell, showing a giant man
ukiyo-e image by Nicolas Castell, showing a man with a fish arm

There is even more to see on the artist’s Behance page—and then treat yourself to a spin through Castell’s portfolio website.