Katsushika Hokusai, known as Hokusai, was born in Edo, now Tokyo, in October or November 1770.
Adopted by a family of craftsmen, he was by no means predestined to become one of the greatest print designers in the history of art. Despite this, he developed a passion for art from an early age and eventually joined a woodcut workshop, where he engraved the last six sheets for a humorous novel by Sancho. Reassured by his choice, he launched himself headlong into the vocation by joining the workshop of Shunsho, which he was forced to leave after the latter's death. Living in extreme poverty, Hokusai did not give up and assiduously studied Western artists. This patience was rewarded in 1804 when the painter presented a giant daruma hoisted above the rooftops in the courtyard of the Temple of Edo, which had been made using a broom and a bucket of Chinese ink. It was, however, at the age of sixty that Hokusai stopped travelling across Japan and devoted himself to book illustration, which brought him worldwide recognition. This designer of genius left an indelible mark on the art world, and had a major influence on many modern western artists such as Van Gogh and Cézanne.
Hokusai died in Edo on 10 May 1849, after saying on his deathbed: "Just five more years and I would have become a great artist".