Hirohiko Araki is a Japanese mangaka and author born June 7, 1960 in Sendai, Miyagi. He made his debut under the name Toshiyuki Araki in 1980 with a one-shot titled Poker Under Arms. Araki went on to publish several lengthier series during his professional career but is best known for the long-running JoJo's Bizarre Adventure which was first published in 1986. The series is split into 8 parts and over 120 volumes published in the last 30 years. During this time both Araki's methods of story-telling and art style evolved greatly, as can be seen in the graphic below.Hirohiko Araki, as an artist, is someone who is constantly changing and growing. Both he and the style of his work are never stagnant- which is part of the appeal of JoJo's. Industry influencers' analysis of Araki's work speculate that he relies on both using and rejecting a sense of reality. Araki makes use of fantasy, mythology, action, adventure, and the supernatural in his work. JoJo's is also infamous for its use of American musician, band, and song titles for character names, frequently creating copyright issues (ex: Vanilla Ice, Wham, Dio, Heaven's Door, Soft and Wet, etc).
Araki's drawing process has many similarities with other mangaka but is considered far more experimental. He begins the majority of his work with study sketches. He is known for using a wide variety of references (from works of Michelangelo to fashion magazines and famous musicians) to inform his style of exaggerated human form. He inks and makes many notations on these study drawings. The study drawings are then used to plan and block out his final piece on crescent illustration board, which begins in much the same way. One of Araki's specialties is dynamic poses and perspective. To create these effects he utilizes vanishing point technique and extreme variety in light weight. He subsequently draws clean line-work over the study drawing base of his final pieces.
When adding shadow and color, Araki works dark to light, filling in the darkest places first. A majority of his art features drastic contrast between dark and light with shadows often being very harsh and deep and surrounded by vibrant color. Following the inking of the darkest shadows, Araki then paints using specialized watercolors, creating additional, more subtle changes from dark to light. Araki is known for often having multiple colorations for each of his characters allowing him to experiment with a significant variety of palettes. When working with color he works color by color, filling in each place that requires a certain hue before moving on to the next rather than completing one part of the drawing in its entirety. He frequently refers back to notations and study drawings during this process. Araki also refers back to previous works in order to create parallels throughout the series and his art. After drawing, inking, and coloring all figures in the piece, Araki then hands it off to assistants who carefully cover just the figures in a plastic coating so that the background can be airbrushed. Finally, Araki touches up outlines, shadows, and highlights on his figures.
The uniqueness of his work comes from the exaggerated manner in which he draws the human form, treating high fashion poses, Greek sculpture, and performance icons as the norm for the movement of the human body and standard for beauty. His bold use of inconsistent color and color palettes also set him apart from other mangaka.
Araki's work on JoJo's Bizarre Adventure earned him collaborations in the high fashion industry he so frequently drew inspiration from. He has done work with Gucci on several occasions in 2012, 2013, and 2014, creating spin-off stories such as Jolyne, Fly High with Gucci and Rohan Kishibe Goes to Gucci, featuring clothing from newly released clothing lines on his characters. He has also created multi-media graphic illustrations for magazine covers and exhibitions at the Gucci showroom in Florence. He also designed and illustrated a temporary installation on the front of the Gucci store in Japan featuring many of his characters.
Another famous collaboration is that with the American biology magazine Cell in 2007. At the request of two Japanese authors published in this issue. Dr. Mitsutoshi Setou and Dr. Hiroshi Ageta, Araki was commissioned to draw the cover of volume 130, issue 5, depicting a new protein named SCRAPPER that helps regulate synaptic activity in the nervous system.
Hirohiko Araki's exaggerated and dramatic style has had a significant impact on the way I draw figures and costume designs. As an aspiring costume designer and technician, letting go of constraints and fear and having the courage to explore all manner of style combinations, color, and aesthetics is extremely important. Araki's art is very experimental for his line of work and inspirational to me in that way. More personally his iconic and stylized character designs have had a significant influence on my fashion and makeup as well as my confidence in general. As a costumer, I have created nearly 20 of the garments featured on his characters during the last two years and have plans to construct many more. Though his media form is not traditional, Hirohiko Araki is easily my favorite artist.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qM2vHahcqQ (video of his process)
Hirohiko Araki's Manga Technique (book)