The Octopus Print

Background of this project ...

It's time to do this one ...

David Bull

Woodblock printmaker Dave Bull has been living in Japan since the mid-1980s. For the first 25 or so years of that time, he worked as an independent craftsman, carving and printing in the traditional Japanese manner, and distributing his prints to private collectors. In the early 2010s he decided to 'open up' both his life and work a bit and created the Mokuhankan workshop, a place where a newer generation of people could learn the old techniques from him, and which would publish prints by modern designers as well as reproductions of traditional designs.

The workshop has grown steadily since then. The Ukiyoe Heroes print series - begun in collaboration with US designer Jed Henry in 2012 - and which put pop culture back into the ukiyo-e world, has become globally famous, and served as the catalyst for many other print publishers to produce similar collaborations. The increased business for Dave and his team of young craftsmen made it possible to consider another major step for their business in 2014 - opening an actual shop in central Tokyo.

To assist Dave with the financing of that shop, he set up a Kickstarter campaign at the time, and the reward for the backers was a fresh new reproduction of Hokusai's iconic Great Wave print.

The Great Wave
The Great Wave ...

Since then, hundreds of people around the world have purchased the print from Mokuhankan, and many want to see more ... More specifically, many of the Mokuhankan collectors have suggested that the workshop make another of Hokusai's iconic images.

Hokusai created much work in the genre of shunga (erotic imagery), and one of his illustrations in particular has captured the imagination of the world in much the same way as the Wave; once you see it, you can never forget it:

Original book spread
Hokusai's iconic book illustration ...

Outline of the project ...

The print pictured above is a copy owned by a book-dealer friend of Dave's in Tokyo. He allowed Mokuhankan to take some high-quality scans of the image for use as a master copy for this new edition. Here is an outline of how the work has proceeded:

David Bull proofing the print
David Bull proofing the print
Dave working on the proofing

Price / Delivery ...

This will not be a 'Limited Edition', available to only a few people (at an inflated price). As with all Mokuhankan prints, this will be an open edition, with our costs thus amortized over a larger print run, keeping the price manageable. Although the carving on this one is very complex and detailed, making the key block printing difficult, the colour printing is a bit simpler than our Great Wave, so we're going to set the price at the same level: $135 (US).

Dave himself is going to be doing the printing on the initial batch (around 100 copies or so), and the blocks will then be turned over to the Mokuhankan staff for making further groups.

Printing Process

During late April of 2020, Dave will be blogging his progress through the printing of the initial batch, over on the Mokuhankan Conversations blog.

Thank you for your interest!