EST. 2009

June 18, 2021

This Monochrome Summer

IN JAPANESE ART, BIJIN-GA ARE PICTURES OF BEAUTIFUL WOMEN, usually rendered in woodblock prints predating photography. Many contemporary artists from all over the world put their own spin on the genre, including Japanese illustrator and 1980s icon Ichiro Tsuruta.

Born in 1954 in the Kumamoto Prefecture, Tsuruta majored in graphic design at the Tama Art University in Tokyo. Hyperrealism was the trend at the time and he proceeded to create artwork in the style.

Tsuruta achieved fame in the late 80s when his work sparked a “Cosmetic Renaissance” through advertisements for Japanese cosmetics brand Noevir. Over the next decade, Tsuruta's bijin-ga found themselves on national TV and in Japanese publications, eventually too in international galleries.

With a focus on female beauty, Tsuruta's illustrations naturally feature the face, but also place an emphasis on hands and accessories. As such, I found them fitting inspiration for my own content with British jewellery brand Estella Bartlett.

My take on Tsuruta's fashion portraits:

It's my second summer styling for Estella Bartlett, and what a lovely year it's been, working with delicate pieces in shifting trends. Ichiro Tsuruta's Monochrome Summer, with its bare arms, white accessories, and over-the-shoulder gaze, provides the perfect mood for summertime styles in the city.

Illustrations by Ichiro Tsuruta, Photos by Lady San Pedro. Shop the pieces at