Aya Takano (Japanese, b.1976) is a member of the Japanese Superflat movement. Born in Saitama, Japan, Takano spent most of her childhood reading science fiction books and magazines in her father's library. Fascinated by the exotic animals and landforms, Takano turned them into the themes of her futuristic artworks. Osamu Tezuka’s (Japanese, 1928–1989) sci-fi manga (Japanese comics and cartoons) also had a lasting impact on Takano’s dreamy perceptions of the world. She once stated that sometimes, even as an adult, she imagines possessing the ability to fly. These early influences are clearly represented in Looking To The Earth From Moon (2006), in which she placed exotic animals and plants—as well as her nude heroines, with their iconic, slim bodies, bulbous heads, and large eyes—floating freely around the earth. In 2000, soon after Takano graduated from Tama Art University in Tokyo, she became an assistant for Takashi Murakami (Japanese, b.1962)—the leading figure in the Superflat movement—who became her mentor and helped to launch her career. Under Murakami’s encouragement, Takano started working on canvas for the first time, and became a member of his art production company, Kaikai Kiki LLC. Later in the same year, her works were featured in Murakami’s group exhibition Superflat, which was to be followed by more group and solo exhibitions worldwide in the coming years. Soon, Takano became known for her paintings of wide-eyed androgynous figures that combine a contemporary stylization known as kawaii (“cuteness” in the context of Japanese culture), with references to ancient woodprints from the Edo period. Her precision with lines, unique use of color, and ability to work quickly has led to comparisons with Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849), the painter and printmaker whose work The Great Wave off Kanagawa (c.1830) is one of the most iconic Japanese artworks of the 18th century. Takano lives and works in Japan, where she is also known as a manga artist, illustrator, and science fiction essayist.