Apr 30, 2018
David Bull is an ukiyo-e woodblock printer and carver who heads the Mokuhankan ukiyo-e studio in Asakusa, Tokyo. Born in Britain, Bull moved to Canada at age 5 and lived there until 1986 when he relocated with his family to Tokyo to pursue ukiyo-e. He first discovered Japanese woodblocks while browsing an art gallery in Toronto at age 29. Intrigued, he started making his own prints without formal training.
He is known for his work on the Ukiyo-e heroes kickstarter crowd-funding project together with Jed Henry, recreating modern video-game scenes in old-style woodblock prints. The Mokuhankan studio has a shop and offers 'print parties' for amateurs, where they can try the craft of printing.
I met Dave at his studio in Tokyo where we talked, among other things, about Toronto's Stuart Jackson gallery, the physical nature of woodblock prints (not the content!), moving to Japan, the "death" of traditional Japanese woodblock printing in the 20th century, ukiyo-e prints as 'low' culture, 'visual letterpress,' French salons, pop culture, cliff-hanger picture books, mixing illustration and text, Hokusai and Manga, Japanese Meiji era, the desirability of "mouth pictures," Video game characters, Washi paper, and the importance of the 18th century book One Hundred People, One Hundred Poems to modern Japanese culture.
Check out Dave's extensive library of videos on Japanese woodblock printing here.