Naohisa Inoue 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.
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.