Japanese illustrator Yuko Shimizu spent a sizeable chunk of her adult life in PR. You wouldn’t know it from her rich, heartfelt illustrations – or the two books she has produced, the second of which is Living with Yoko Shimizu, a collection of 32 removable prints of her works on sturdy paper.
Yuko excelled at drawing as a child – both in time dedicated and quality – but her traditional Japanese upbringing put her off crafting a career in her childhood hobby, and she opted for PR instead. Thankfully, she had a midlife crisis at the early age of 22, saved up money over years that we bet felt pretty long, and then quit her job to pursue what she really wanted.
Aged 34, Yuko returned to school, but this time not to study business. She left New York’s School of Visual Arts (SVA) with an MFA in Illustration, but couldn’t cleave herself from the city and instead settled in a Midtown Manhattan studio. She has been illustrating – and teaching illustration at SVA and across the world – ever since (and has had no repeat midlife crises).
Both Japanese and American influences give Yuko’s work a tone that is more her own than either of her country’s - a mish-mesh of American pop and Japanese comic art that favours moody, faded greens, reds and yellows in a scaffold of Yuko’s distinctive, flowing ink drawings.
We caught up with Yuko just before the book’s launch (which was on April 6 2016) – and she tells us about her inspirations, how she keeps herself looking to the future and how her previous, now out-of-print book is now selling for $USD150.