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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Kazuhiko Sano

Dinosaurs and Friends, Kazuhiko Sano
There was once a time when science was not yet so advanced and many people thought that dinosaurs were giant bipedal crocodiles. Today we have discovered that many dinosaurs actually had...feathers! Like a peacock with teeth! When I was growing up I liked three major activities, drawing, playing "cowboys and Indians," and playing with my toy dinosaur collection (which I still have, by the way). By rights I should have become a dinosaur artist or the next John Wayne. Either way I might be rich and famous by now, like Kazuhiko Sano. Of course, like Sano, I'd also be dead by now. He died in 2011.

Kazuhiko Sana hold a self-portrait painted in 1974 while in college.
Kazuhiko Sano was born in 1952. He was raised in Tokyo, the son of an architect. He struggled with the post-war environment and new attitudes of the country. Kazu (his nickname) pursued drumming, with influences of the Beatles, the Kinks and Drifters. He also loved the music of James Brown, Elvis and Jackie Wilson. He became a pianist prior to a life-threatening motorcycle accident on the streets of Tokyo. His father was involved in the booming business of rebuilding Japan from the allied bombing of World War II. His father pressured Kazuhiko to become an architect. The pressure yielded somewhat when instead, Kazuhiko's younger brother chose to follow in his father's footsteps.

An untitled Kazuhiko Sano illustration. Often illustrations
are not titled by artists as when they are canvas.

Sano began noticing the color and musical shift in society with 1960s acid rock and the psychedelic culture. He felt that the level of complexity was beyond his skills as a drummer, but the world of paint and illustration began to fascinate him. He tried to enter the prestigious National Univer-sity in Tokyo with a focus on Graphic Arts since there was no field of illus-tration in Japan at that time. However, Sano's efforts failed to land him a place in the university, which focused on academic prowess. Therefore, Sano left Japan to enroll in the San Francisco Academy of Art. There he once more entered as a Graphic De-signer, but was quickly guided into Illustration by astute staff once they observed his work. Sano’s self-driven assignments during his three failed years trying to enter the National University in Japan, proved to be what set him apart. He couldn’t speak well in English, but he was able to arti-culate his images in English very well.

Anyone you recognize?

Kazuhiko Sano created the winning design for
the 2008 Frank Sinatra commemorative stamp.
Mammoth and elephant comparison.
Sano reached heights within the field of illustration and painting that couldn’t have been attempted without the solid base set by his father’s artistic sensibilities and work methods. Even though his profession was not what his father would have chosen, or hoped for, Sano's career was shaped by his father. His life was allowed to progress to the highest levels of success only through the foundation laid by his father and, undoubtedly, his father before him.

Dinosaurs--where art and science meet.

It's unclear whether Sano's dinosaur paintings came before, after, or simultaneous with the other major success in creating book covers for many Star Trek paperback books (below) and posters for the competing Star Wars movies. If Trekkies don't recognize the name Kazuhiko Sano then they should. I counted some thirteen different covers, which may not include them all.
Kazuhiko Sano was Star Trek's most prolific cover artist.
Take your pick. Which Sano poster do you like best?

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