Yuko Shimazu Yuko Shimazu Yuko Shimizu

Award winning Japanese illustrator based in New York City and instructor at School of Visual Arts.

Criterion Designs event at Society of Illustrators

Known for their beautifully designed special edition DVDs and blu-rays, Criterion Collection just came out with a coffee table book of their original package illustrations.
To celebrate the release of Criterion Designs, Society of Illustrators in New York will be hosting an event on December 3, 2014. With Eric Skillman, art director of  Criterion Collection, as the host, there will be a panel of 6 contributing artists (Greg Manchess, David PlunkertLeanne Shapton, Adrian Tomine, Ron Winberly and myself) discussing our experiences.

There will be a book signing, followed by reception at Society of Illustrator’s famous bar upstairs.
Admission is $15 for non members, $10 for members, and $7 for seniors and students with valid ID. Please read more and reserve your tickets here

Looking forward to seeing you on December 2.

Some of the projects I worked with Criterion Collection below.

my contribution to Zatoichi box set
Zatoishi big box set package was designed by Ron Wimberly

Little Nemo Dream Another Dream is ready for pre-order

After a successful Kickstarter campain earlier in summer, Locust Moon Press’s Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream, a tribute book to Little Nemo in Slumberland is ready for pre-order.
Over 100 comic artists and illustrators contributed to the book, and the final result is massive 144 page, 16″ x 21″ monumental book! I have contributed a full page illustration for this book as well.
Pre-order your book here


My contribution to the book (above), and seen in the spread, next to Peter Diamond‘s masterpiece. I am so happy my former student and now a good friend is on the same spread. (Thank you friend and also a contributor to the book James Yang for taking this photo)

you can see how big the book is!!!

Original drawings were shown at recent Locus Moon Comic Festival. 

pre-order starts! limited edition silk scarf is in making

I am excited I can finally reveal the secret project I have been working with MAE Gallery Editions. Limited number of just 100, made in Japan high quality  silk scarf project is almost complete. MAE Editions is UK based, but they have moved their studio to Japan to work on the last part of the project. They just started taking pre-orders, and shipping starts in January, if not earlier.

The scarf is 93cm square (about 37inch square), comes in collectors numbered box, and price is $185USD. You can also choose pition with signed large print  for $285.

Read more and pre-order from MAE Gallery Editions online store. 

life condensed to 5 minutes, and consequences of being on TV

Thank you for those (mainly in Japan) who watched the TV show I was in on Monday night (明石家さんまの転職de天職). I have been getting overwhelming (mostly positive) responses since.
My website is getting a lot of new visitors,  I got reconnected with some of my old friends and cousins, and some strangers wrote nice e-mails, to which unfortunately I won’t have enough time to write back to everyone, so please do forgive me in advance.

I have not seen the show’s final edit (except for 4 minutes segment they shot in NY previous to studio recording), so I cannot speak for the whole thing, but I believe I do owe some explanation, because at the end of the day, it is one person’s life condensed into just 4 short minutes. Everyone’s life looks a lot simpler in 4 minutes, you know.

TV producer asked me if I like the host of the show, Sanma Akashiya (明石家さんま), one of the most respected Japanese comedians. I said yes, of course. I grew up watching his shows. I said it may be my one chance to actually meet a person I only know from TV screen. Then on the final show, they edited as if he is the biggest crush of my life. I can laugh it off, but I want to clarify, that one comedian I am in love with is, actually, Stephen Colbert.

Some strangers asked me about how I learned English. The show did not mention I grew up in New York as a kid. My English was, of course, kids’ English, and it was not great, I still had to study intensively for TOEFL exam in between and commute to work, so I get high enough score to be able to apply for US colleges. One of the reasons I left Japan was that I felt I was always treated as a ‘weirdo gaijin’ rather than one of them, and I felt much more comfortable being in New York where being different is appreciated.

There are other things like my former coworkers pointed out sarcastically like “I didn’t know you were an ordinary OL (office lady)”. I was working in PR department, researched, edited and written company magazines, brochures, annual reports, went onto multiple foreign business trips in that tenure. So, the image the term ‘ordinary OL’ evokes, which is you sit at the desk and do paperwork, maybe a bit out of context, but I won’t get too much into details. (photo is during a business trip to Hong Kong office around 1997, with now my life-long friends I met there.)

They have asked what is the typical lowest rate in illustration as well as one of the highest rate you can earn. If you felt that we illustrators get paid that top rate all the time, I can reassure you, that is like ‘one in the lifetime’ jackpot, if you ever hit it. Though, for that jackpot, one probably needs to work for months and months of long hours to complete the project. Nothing is easy.

I had to pick one job that turned my career around (from struggling to not so).
I always say there is no ONE career changing moment. If your career skyrocket with one project, then your career would most probably fall as fast as it has gone up. I truly believe in this.
I did pick a New York Times Travel Section cover from very early on in my career that got my work seen by a lot of people. My first big job. Till this day, I remember how excited I was to work on that job, and to see the actual paper. (Thank you AD Barbara Richer)  However, if you have seen the show and you thought that changed my life 180 degrees, I want to clarify that it totally DIDN’T.

I worked  365 days a year, 10-12 hour days, without any day off, for first 2-3 years of my career. I don’t think I can do that now, and nor would I want to, However at that point, I didn’t mind because I was new, I had little money with big dreams, high ambition, and I was ready to work as much as I possibly can to get there.
Looking back, that kind of motivation and work ethic was absolutely necessary. If I wasn’t ready to do that long and hard work stretch, I should have picked another occupation where I would not mind doing it. Life of freelancer is not easy, and the secret of success is how much you want to do it, and how much you actually do it.

All and all, it was a great one time experience being on TV.
I learned a lot about how a TV program is made, and how much work goes into it. I got to meet a comedian (not my crush) I only knew from watching TV, and realized why he has a successful career for over 30 years (he was the pro of the pro!), and I have even higher respect for him (again, not my crush).

Last but not least, here is a portrait I got commissioned by the program to dedicate to him. The title of the piece is “The World Heritage of Comedy (お笑い世界遺産)”. Hope he put this up on a wall in his house…

 

limited edition Murakami in the UK: make your own Tsukuru Tazaki cover

Recently published UK version of Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and Years of Pilgrimage come with a big surprise: stickers. First edition of the book comes with stickers illustrated by five different Japanese illustrators to represent each of the five main characters in the book. The idea is that readers can create their own covers using them.
There are multiple versions of stickers, and the one that include stickers of Ms. Black by me is in the UK book store chain Waterstones edition. Check out the chain before the first editions are gone!

 

And below are some photos I borrowed from Haruki Murakami Facebook page while the sticker competition was going on. Each reader used his/her own ideas and creativity to make one of a kind cover. Top one is probably my favorite. Lots of work went into that piece.

cool NY guide: 60 creatives share our secret spots

known for their innovative and cutting edge design books, Hong Kong’s Viction:ary just came out with, this time, pocket city guides! And of course, they are not your ordinary guidebooks. For each city, 60 local creatives share their favorite spots.
In the New York version of this CITIx60 guide series, I shared my love for one-and-only Strand Book Store, what I believe to be the best bookstore of NY (if not of the world).

And to add to the fun, each cover opens up to mini map-poster of the city illustrated by local artist Mike Perry
CITIx60 is currently available on six cities: Barcelona, Berlin, London, NY, Tokyo and Paris.

Tokyo business trip: studio is closed

I took off to Tokyo. Studio will be closed till August 25th. Also, next shipment for the shop will be on the last week of August. Thank you for understanding.
Vacation, it is not.

I was never that person who wanted to be on TV. I am actually still not into the idea.  I mean, why do I want to embarrass myself in front of millions of people?  After all, I haven’t even owned a TV in past five years, and I get most of my latest news from WNYC and NY Times.
But when a TV station from Japan comes knocking on my door, why not? Just once, to see whether I like it, or not. I am open to doing things at least once.

Nippon Television filming crew has been shooting a footage in NY for about a week, and now it’s my turn to go do a studio recording.
I don’t know much about Japanese TV shows, but it will be a 3 hour special program about multiple people who have changed their career midway, and how that positively (I think, hoping not to see negatively) affecting their lives.
The show title is 明石家さんまの転職de天職 and it is scheduled to be on air on September 15th in Japan. I think my segment will be only about 5 minutes long, though, flight is about 14 hours each way. Ha ha.
See how it goes.

Happy summer.

Haruki Murakami and Patti Smith for NY Times (+more)

1. NY TIMES Book Review
Over the weekend, NY Times Book Review came out with the review of highly anticipated US release of the new book by Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage(released today).  The review was written by Patti Smith (!!)  It was a huge honor for me to be able to illustrate for this special issue of Book Review.

I got hooked to Murakami books since my long time friend and then coworker Yuko Saito (then Chikamoto) got me into reading her collection of Murakami books. It was the early 90s, Norwegian Woods was already a best seller, and I was a bit skeptical of reading books by such a hugely popular writer. Only to realize and reminded why so many people have been enchanted by his writing.

And here is a disclosure; illustrating for this issue of the Book Review was not an accident. As a fan, I had read the book in Japanese when it came out, and I knew when the English version was coming out. About a month prior to the US release, I wrote to Nicholas Blechman, AD of Book Review, whom I had years of working together on multiple projects,  to see if the Book Review was planning on using illustration to review this upcoming book, and if they would consider me as one of the candidates.
I don’t usually do this. I am more of ‘wait for clients to contact you’ person than a go-getter. But this was something so special, I needed to write that e-mail. He got back to me right away and gave me the project.  (read the behind the scenes article written by Pamela Paul, editor of Book Review here)
It was a happy accident that it turned out to be a cover, and that NY Times filming crew decided to came to interview and document the whole creative process.
Thank you Pamela, Nicholas, and thank you Robin Lindsay and the filming crew.

please set your browser to permalink view to watch the video:


2. UK Waterstones edition

Also, a bit of surprise for UK fans of Murakami. Check out the special edition coming out only from Waterstones. I contributed on a special mini-project with them.Thank you Suzanne Dean for the project.  (Sweet, it looks like there is a signing with the author as well! Check it out, Londoners)


 

3) and in the latest issue of GQ
And, I made a fun set of postage-stamp size illos for the August issue of GQ (US). Reviews the book with funny Murakami novel trivia quizzes. (Look for Kanye cover in newsstand near you)  Thank you Martin Salazar for the project.

KRSP x Yuko T-shirts released

I’ve known Luke since school. He was studying graphic design, I was in illustration. We were not exactly friends, but we had tons of friends in common we often heard about each other through those mutual friends. We became friends when in recent years I started going to his July 4th BBQ parties. He is Korean, most of his friends are Argentinean, so you can easily guess what kind of amazing BBQs they put out.

Luke has been running his street style fashion label KRSP for some time, and we kind of vaguely started talking about maybe one day we work on something together. And, finally, after years of BBQ parties and all that, here they are!
There is even a promotional video he made for it! (you have to be in permalink mode to watch this video)

Two shirt designs are released.  I really love the every small design details Luke paid attention to, such as tag on the edge, and designing of my name and KRSP logo on the back of the shirts. (Well, what he calls his ‘day job’ is something others will kill to get, so his design skill has the big seal of approval.)

You can purchase your shirts at KRSP online shop