In his youth, Yoshitaka Amano was fascinated with drawing and art. His first professional project was acting as character designer for the anime Speed Racer, which led to positions on other shows. Throughout the 70s, Amano studied European art movements of the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as Ukiyo-e (Japanese woodblock printing); both would influence his later style.
By the late 1990s, Amano's role shifted to promotional and character artwork, though he regained his role as main character designer for the development of Final Fantasy IX. Though he has lately been replaced by younger designers (most notably Tetsuya Nomura), Amano's unique style and signature androgynous characters were responsible for giving Final Fantasy a distinctive flavor.
Amano has also worked as a comic illustrator in the West, collaborating with Neil Gaiman on Sandman, and even acted in the 1998 movie New Rose Hotel.