Grandpa Hagio was a talented draftsman, hand letterer, and illustrator. After the camps, he opened his own Printing company in the West Loop with the help of a nice samaritan, since after the war, it was very hard for Japanese to get work, let alone open a business. But his company Graphic Finishing was a success, and his clients included Container Corporation of America (CCA) and other major graphic houses. He also did book binding. It was a huge warehouse on Jackson, and he employed a lot of Japanese Americans that couldn’t find work after the war too. My uncle Dave took it over and it eventually closed in 2008.
Dad (Kunio Hagio) started off by doing furniture pencil and ink illustrations for Sears Robuck. That led to greeting card illustration, and then editorial illustration. With the help of art director friends, he had a nice run doing illustrations for the articles in Penthouse and Playboy. I got to go to the Playboy building with him a couple times to drop off work, that was fun. He then started getting agents on both coasts, and before you know it, he was illustrating for major movie houses. The 80’s were good to us. You can check out his website that I built here
. His work during his commercial art period was with Oil, Airbrush and Pencil combo. He was known for his photo-realistic skills. He became known in the industry for his crazy detailed work, and got a lot of jobs that needed him to recreate money in the piece, we even had the government spying on us for a while, just in case we were working with counterfeit agencies. (Not the case) Using the art-o-graph a lot, working on board, and we had a fixative spray booth in the laundry room. He would crate up his jobs to ship out for review or purchase. Quite the process.
After the 80’s, computers started coming into the scene, and his commercial work was going to computer illustrators with faster turn arounds.
He picked up and moved my mom, and 2 little sisters to Sedona, where he embraced the fine art scene and grew into a well respected ‘local’ artist. He branched out into drybrush oil on linen, and got loose with his brush. His subjects were Native Americans, and Kabuki.
He’s still kickin it in Sedona, not really painting anymore, or when he tries, it’s a challenge for him now. He enjoys watching TV and eating junk food still. His dog Muffin saved his life by coming along and showing him it’s ok to love again, after my mom passed away from cancer in 2005. #fuckcancer