Naohisa Inoue (井上直久 Inoue Naohisa?) was born in 1948 in Osaka. He graduated from the Kanazawa College of Art in 1971, and from 1973 to 1992 was a graphic designer and high school fine art teacher. He has been a free-lance artist since 1993, and is presently a Professor of Art and Design at Seian University.
Inoue is most known for his many paintings which depict a fantastic Utopian world which he names Iblard (イバラード Ibaraado?). His first book of Iblard paintings was Iblard 1981. In 1983 Inoue was awarded "Rookie of the Year" in the Division of Illustrated Books for his Journey Through Iblard. Since then he has continued to create paintings, prints, art books, and CD-ROMs on the theme of Iblard. Nowadays exhibits of his work occur each year both internationally and in Japan.
On the occasion of his first Tokyo-area exhibition in 1994 (paintings from The Natural History of Iblard, at the Pinpoint Gallery in Minami Aoyama), Inoue - by then a big fan of Hayao Miyazaki's films - invited Miyazaki to attend, not expecting that the renowned director would actually show up. But Miyazaki did show up, and was impressed enough to not only buy a painting (Upward Draft, now hanging in the staff cafeteria at Studio Ghibli) but to also invite Inoue to join the art team then being assembled for Miyazaki's production of Whisper of the Heart, being directed by Yoshifumi Kondou. Several of Inoue's Iblard paintings were used during the Miyazaki-directed CGI fantasy sequence in the film, in which we get to see a couple of scenes from Shizuku's first novel, The Story Baron Gave Me.
Inoue also voiced one of the musician characters in the film - he's the one that compliments Shizuku's "nice vocal" after their impromptu performance of Country Roads.
In 2007, Inoue directed his first short film, Iblard Time (イバラード時間 Ibaraado Jikan?). In Japan, it is available on DVD and Blu-ray as a Ghibli ga Ippai Collection Special release.
Mr. Inoue's works are available to see and purchase through his English-language website.
Also see our Iblard Time (availability) page for a list of other goods related to Iblard.