Impressive Creativity Inspired by Hokusai’s The Great Wave

inspired by hokusai's the great wave

Hokusai’s Under The Great Wave off the Coast of Kanagawa, better known simply as ‘The Great Wave‘ is the single most famous Japanese color woodblock print in history. Created in the Edo Period, around 1831, the image has been reproduced millions of times in many forms.

You can find the classic woodblock print reproduced on tons of items ranging from doormats to t-shirts on Amazon. But when it comes to re-interpreting the piece rather than just reprinting the artwork, there’s a whole range of creativity out there.

Inspired by Hokusai’s The Great Wave

Inspired by Hokusai's The Great Wave
Katsushika Hokusai, Under The Great Wave of Kanagawa from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, Polychrome woodblock print; ink and color on paper, 1830

Some of the inspired pieces are expected such as Hokusai mugs, throw pillows and mobile phone cases. On etsy, you can find a ton of items with the image. And poster reproductions are a dime a dozen. But others may surprise you. Here are ten (technically, twelve) that impressed me.

The Éclair Hokusaï

Fauchon of Paris is best known for their signature pastry, the eclair. When it came to creating special artistic versions for the 2014 Eclair Week, their Eclair Hokusai was a standout.

painted eclair by Fauchon for Eclair week


Dior hokusai coat

As part of Dior’s 2007 Haute Couture Collection, the Suzurka-San Coat reproduced the artwork on the bottom half of the coat. Image above is as seen in the fabulous exhibit Inspiration Dior

dior hokusai inspired coat on runway
On model during the runway show


French artist Bernard Pras, who is famous for his assemblages of found objects, created this one inspired by the well-known artwork.

bernard pras hokusai great wave assemblage IIHIH
Bernard Pras

hokusai prom dress at exhibit

Boston teen and budding artist Grace Lennon hand-painted her own dress for her Junior prom, inspired by the local exhibit of Hokusai’s work at the MFA. It took her about a week of 12 hour long days to paint the image on the white dress using acrylic and fabric paints.

*Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Grace Lennon models her hand-painted prom dress

The Boston Museum of Fine Art sells several Hokusai items in their gift store

(images courtesy of Boston magazine)

Maki Otani, a manicurist in San Diego, took 1st place in the 2010 Mini Masterpiece Nail Art Competition held by Nails Magazine with her “Great Wave off Kanagawa” painted nail.

mini masterpiece nail art first place

“I chose this painting because Hokusai’s art is very familiar to me since I grew up in Japan,” says Otani. “It has always been my favorite historical masterpiece.”

hokusai nail art 1

It took Otani about 10 hours to complete the nail. She used four shimmer nail polish colors on the background and blended them in gradually. “Using a tiny brush, I painted the waves and Mt. Fuji with acrylic paint, and then I used white acrylic powder and monomer on the white part of the wave so it would look like it was popping out.”
Nails Magazine

Created for the Magical Thinking fashion editorial in W Magazine, March 2012.

Photography by Tim Walker, Styled by Jacob K
W Magazine

Make-up artist Georgina Ryland took 2nd place at the 2014 IMATS Battle of The Brushes in Sydney with her body art interpretation of The Great Wave.

GR IMATS Sydney body art

Georgina Ryland

Also worth noting is another work of body painting:

Hokusai’s The Great Wave is reproduced with body paint on model Mia S by Danny Setiawan of DenArt Studio.

behind the scenes body painting
DenArt Studio

Artist Peter Laven recreated the famous image using LEGO bricks:

peter laven lego hokusai version

Sadly, I cannot find a website for Peter Laven, but you can view more of his Lego masterpieces here

hokusai great wave street art

Painted in an inner city wall in Coldharbour Place, Camberwell is this wonderful mural version of the painting done by Dominic F Swords in 1998. The mural was destroyed by a 2013 fire but has since been restored thanks to local artists and The Great Wave Mural Project of Camberwell

clive roddy hokusai doorstop

The Wave Doorstop by Clive Roddy is constructed from six layers of high quality birch plywood. Each layer of the wave has been accurately cut and has a smooth durable paint finish in three contrasting colours that emulate Hokusai’s original design. The base of the product is mounted with non slip rubber pad making each wave capable of stoping any door in its wake.

great wave doorstop by clive roddy
Buy it here

Clive didn’t stop at the doorstop, he’s also created an acrylic ring inspired by the famous woodcut.

The Ring is constructed from three layers of high quality 4mm Acrylic that have been permanently bonded together using a very strong adhesive. Each layer of the wave has been accurately cut and has a smooth durable finish in three contrasting colours that emulate Hokusai’s original design.
Materials: High specification 4mm Acrylic
Size: Each internal ring diameter is 18mm.
Buy it here

uprisings and original kozydan art

I would be remiss if I did not mention Kozyndan’s fabulous Uprisings which I shared and discussed in relation to Sony Bravia’s Play Doh claymation Bunny spot here. Kozyndan’s version can be purchased on T-Shirts and pillows here

And lastly, here are a bunch of fun fashions, coloring books and home items with reproductions of the famous artwork: