Yuko Shimazu Yuko Shimazu Yuko Shimizu

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

Advice For Young Illustrators

about this FAQ

Thank you for visiting this section.
I often get contacted by aspiring illustrators who are seeking for career advise, wanting to know about my technique, or to work on their art school research assignments. I wish I had time to write back to everyone, but the reality is, I am sorry I don’t.  So, instead I made this section to answer  many of the most common questions I have been asked in past.

If you want to know about sales of works and available products, scroll down to the bottom for the last section.
Thank you!

If you are to give an advice for new illustrators, what would that be?

First of all, love what you do.  If you are not in love with what you do you can never compete in a field where everyone else have so much passion in what they do.
Have high ambitions, and work harder than your ambitions. School may be a hard work, but you will soon realize that you have to work even harder in the real world. Hard work is not so hard if you are in love with what you do.
Let yourself experiment and grow. Be open to constructive criticism.  You are an artist and not craftsman who’s job is to create the same things over and over again.
Don’t forget that you are running a small business as well as being an artist. Learn to be a good business person. Be nice.
Don’t ever try to be someone else who is already in the field. Be the best of who you are and who you can become. Try and aim to create something nobody else has done/seen.
Good luck!

Education of Illustrators

I am self-taught and never attended art school. Would that be a problem becoming a professional illustrator?

I have never been asked to show my resume or diploma upon a client assigning me a job. Illustrators get work because of our portfolio and not because of our resume.

It doesn’t matter if you have PhD or you are a high school drop out. What matters are your work.

A few years ago I was asked to judge Art Directors Club annual competition, one of the most prestigious in design industry. Chuck Anderson who judged with me that year was 19 with full of experience already. Does he ever need to go back to an art school? The answer is obvious.

Having said that, I myself did go back to school and got formal art education. And I did that more than 10 years after finishing my business degree. It was because I didn’t have confidence in my work at the time. Whenever I met someone who went to art school I felt inferior. The only way for me to overcome my fear was to go back to art school. I learned so much. I loved it. It is because of this experience now I can be working as a freelance illustrator. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Whether you think you need a formal art education or not; the answer is up to you.

You attended School of Visual Arts MFA as Visual Essay Program. I hear so many good things about the program. Would you recommend me to apply?

It was the two best years of my studies, and I am sure you will enjoy the experience too. However, I have a few realistic pieces of advise for those who are considering of pursuing MFA in illustration.

  1. If you are still in college, think of WHY you need to go straight to graduate school now. Chances are, you are scared of getting out of school, or feeling like extra two years in school would buy you time.
    If it is your first time getting out of school, trust me, the best education you can get is to get out to the real world.  If you start getting jobs and doing fine as an illustrator, do you really need to go back to school again?
    If you decide, after how many ever years you are out of school, that you can use that extra two years well, go back to school. You will appreciate the experience 10 times more.
  2. Please consult your financial situation. Calculate how much student loan you have to take out, and how much debt you will be having out of school. Is it realistic? Please have your head leveled and make a right financial decision. The last thing I want to see is a young artist in a huge debt.
  3. Please don’t think of the MFA as an instant passport to illustration success.
    SVA MFA Illustration has great reputation, thanks to many alumni who are working in different fields of illustration. I am extremely proud to be a part of its’ alumni.
    But we are still freelancers, and it is not the MFA that is making the alumni successful. It is each of their hard work during and after the two-year education. Unlike MBA from Harvard, it doesn’t guarantee you anything. You still have to cultivate your career yourself.
  4. Please don’t expect for instructors to hold your hands and guide you like your BFA studies. Be ready for two years of open schedule that you can build your own projects where the instructors are there to help you. If you are ready for it, you will have an amazing time.

Have I been discouraging? I hope not.

Again, It was the best education I have ever gotten. I can recommend it to anyone. I just want you to apply exactly at the right moment when you are ready to really appreciate the unique two-year education you will be getting.
Good luck!

Are there any illustration classes you teach I can take?

I have been teaching at School of Visual Art BFA Illustration and Cartooning Department since 2003. Currently I teach two sets of Senior Portfolio courses, co-teach with Chris Buzelli and Marcos Chin. The courses are only open to full time students in BFA illustration majors and limited to about 15-16 students.
I am currently not teaching in the Continuing Education Department which is open to general public.

SKILLSHARE ink drawing class was released in 2014. Video classes that can be watched on your preferred schedule for very small amount of fee, open to worldwide audience. Learn more here and sign up here. 

I also teach multi-day illustration workshops and single day drawing workshops time to time. When a new workshop is announced, I make sure to announce on NEWS section, as well as on Facebook public page and on Twitter.

Can you come visit our school / organization / conference for lectures / workshops?

World travel and meeting people  is my passion. It is best when I can combine the passion and work. I try my best to squeeze trips to where you are. If you are abroad,  it is even better!

If your school/organization/conference is interested, please contact me as far in advance as possible with details.

Even if your school is located outside of the US and don’t have budget to fly me in, do not hesitate to contact and let me know your interest. I travel a lot, especially in Europe, and I may be able to swing by when I am near you.

On Making A Living As An Illustrator

My parents (or friends, people I know) say one cannot make living being a freelance artist and discourage me from pursuing. What do you think?

My parents used to tell me the same thing. Maybe because there are too many movies about tragic life of artists like Camille Claudel or Pollock.

As I wrote previously, pursue only if you love illustration and this is absolutely what you want to be doing. This field is filled with people who love what they do, hard-working, motivated and driven. If you are not one of them, this field is not for you.

If your goal is to become rich, look elsewhere. However if you do well you will probably make OK income by illustrating.

Freelance calls for certain type of personality. You may often not know what you will be doing two weeks from now, or when you will get a next job. You need to have a personality to be able to deal with it and feel OK for uncertainty. If not, you should probably get a job with regular salary instead. Freelancing will most probably make you miserable.

Besides that, be ready to juggle day jobs for a while till you start making stable income from illustration.

Can you give me some tips on self-promotion? You seem to be pretty good at it.

I used to teach a seven-week course on self-promotion and business  at SVA. Considering how many hours I used to spend teaching this subject, it is not something I can quickly write in short paragraphs, especially that the strategy should be different according to each artist and his/her interests and goals. However, I can point out some universal and basic advise here.

  1. Build a really good website; It doesn’t have to be elaborately designed. Just make it user friendly, organized and show who you are as an artist. Once you are out of school, you need a real website and not just a blog.
  2. Update your site as often as you can. Website that does not get updated often is worse than not having a website, especially in the early stage in your career.
  3. utilize social-networking skill and promote your site and work well. You are young, and you know how to use them better than I do.
  4. Get a real e-mail address. Free e-mail address makes you look like an amateur. Get “mail or your [email protected]”, you can even forward that to your gmail. At least you look like a pro to them.
  5. Learn to write good e-mails. E-mails are often recipients’s first impression of you. Don’t be a spammer, don’t be a stalker. Don’t write like if you are text messaging a friend. Ask politely if you are asking stranger questions or favors.
  6. Do research on whom you want to work with. Make your own mailing list by visiting newsstands and writing down information one by one. Sending cards is a good old fashioned way that stil works. 50 hand-picked names on the list works a lot better than 5000 random names on a list you buy.

Here is a list of the books you should read. Although I recommend them all, the first one is A MUST for all new illustrators.
+ How To Be An Illustrator by Darrel Rees
+ Inside The Business Of Illustration by Steven Heller and Marshall Arisman
+ How To Be A Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul by Adrian Shaughnessy
+ It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden

How did you get your first job and what was it?

Every aspiring illustrator has the experience of working hard, trying to promote yourself but not getting any responses. Feeling like you would never be able to work as a professional.
I had that experience too.

Luckily, MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program at SVA was really good about getting students motivated into self-promotion mode. So I had started promoting myself early, when I was still in school. Every time I made new work, I added onto my website, then every month I created new promotional materials printed from my home-printer and sent them out to a hand made small mailing list of my ‘dream client’s. Nothing happened. Nothing happened, in fact, for more than half a year of consistently doing so. There were classmates who had already gotten job or two. I felt like a loser.

Then after six months of feeling like a loser but not giving up, I got a call from AD Minh Uong of Village Voice (he is now at New York Times) for a small black and white illustration job. It was the best day of my illustration life I would never forget.

Looking back, it was nowhere near a best illustration I have done, but it was decent, and it was publishable, and most importantly I worked really REALLY hard, and Minh knew it. Then he and fashion writer Lynn Yaeger ended up giving me a fashion column to illustrate every week for a while, which lead me to work with various magazines and newspapers later on.

If that first job has not come to you yet, don’t give up. work hard, and always try to be better. And The Day will come to you.

What / when was your big break?

When I look back, there were various moments in my career that led to something bigger. The first job after six months of sending out promos, the first magazine job that gave me two more magazine spreads, newspaper cover that gave me a lot of exposure, or the first advertising campaign that happened to get a lot of press, etc, etc.. But again, there was no big break, and I am extremely happy about this.

People often think it happens to people overnight, but it doesn’t. It is just accumulation of one job after another that you try to do your best each time. Some happens to have bigger exposures than the others. That’s all. There is no shortcut in life. Take it slow, one job at a time.

IF, something happens to you overnight, be weary. What shoots up fast, tend to shoots down fast. If you feel things are moving forward very slowly, almost too slow, you are probably on the right track.

How long did it take before you became successful?

Wherever I go for a lecture, I almost always get asked this. I think it is a very funny question.

First, ‘success’ is relative, almost a state of mind. Do I think I am successful? In my mind, no, or I really don’t care if I am nor not.  So I tend to ask them back “ you mean how long it took me to start paying all my bills?”
Second, how long it took me to make living is just a fact and has absolutely no relation to or effect on how the questioner would do. It is not like answering to  “How long would it take to fly to London?” which is about 6.5 hours from New York for everyone equally whether you paid the cheapest coach or the first row in first class.

Best advice I can give you is, when you are young and you are right out of school, keep your monthly carrying cost low. If that is low, it is easier to achieve the goal of ‘making living by making art’. But, I do also advice young people to experience life after school to make your art and life richer.
Please also read my blog post.

Do you suggest working in a studio environment rather than working at home?

It is a matter of preference. Some people like to just wake up, make a coffee and start working in their pajamas. Some people like to have clear separation between work and personal life. I am the latter.

I like to get dressed, take the subway and go to my office every morning. I like to relax and never have to worry about e-mail when I am home (I still don’t have internet there). Most of all, I like interaction with people at work, whether they are my studio-mates or neighbors who are in different design related industry.

Illustration is a lonely business. You can spend hours, or days and days just staring at your drawing table. Why not have a bit of stimulation and mild distraction from people who work around you? And to get advice, or to give advice?

If you are considering getting a studio, here is my advice; Find studio-mates who you really get along with, and who will never be your direct competitors, and whom you will be happy for their success and that they will feel the same for you.

Work can sometimes be stressful. The last thing you need is to make your studio into another cause of your headache.

You live / work in New York City, and so are many other illustrators. Do you think I should move to New York to start / boost my career?

New York has more publishers, design studios, advertising agencies, etc than any other city in the US, and probably more than any other cities in the world.

Located in NY would probably give you more chances to meet with your possible future clients, easy access to portfolio drop offs, go to meetings, picking up and dropping off reference materials or scripts. My studio is 5 minutes walk away from the NY Times and Conde Nast buildings, among other clients. Very easy access.

When I started out not so long ago, when FTP upload was not common and e-mail only sent up to 2MB files, I used to go visit my clients a lot, to drop off CDs with final images or to pick up dummy layouts. Now, my clients seldom even call me. Everything is on internet.

Cool thing about this job is that all you need are: your art supply, internet access and a cell phone. I have friends who live in New York but spend a lot of their time in Hawaii. Clients just think they are early risers sending e-mails 5 in the morning.

Yes it may help you to be here especially when you are starting out, but again, you can work from anywhere and there is really no need for you to live here.

So, would you move to this city where you are considered lucky if you found a shoe-box size studio apartment under $1,800, everybody is moving in the speed of light too busy to be friendly to you, dirty and smelly, summer is boiling hot, winter is severe, and upper-middle class income will make you feel like you are on the verge of poverty?

Well, I personally won’t exchange my small Manhattan apartment and studio for any mansion in any other city.

New York is a city for people who have ambitions and the work ethic to try for what they want to achieve. They come from all over the world with their hopes and dreams. Almost every day, I meet interesting people who stimulate me and inspire me, and make me want to work harder and try out new things. This energy is here like nowhere else.

If that is what you are looking for and ready for, New York City is for you.

I am an international student and trying to get a work visa in the US when I graduate. Can you give me advice?

I have to start this with a disclaimer…

I was actually hesitant to post this, mainly because I am neither a lawyer nor an expert on US immigration. This topic is a heavy legal stuff. Also regulation changes every year and therefore, my visa application experiences in 2003 is not exactly relevant to what you are experiencing now.

The only reason I have decided to post is because I do get asked this so often and I don’t have time to write each one of them back. I know it is a huge concern for international students, It definitely was a huge concern for me when I was in school.

Please use this answer only as a reference, and do the fact and legal check yourself. I won’t be able to answer any more than what I write here, or be responsible for the information. Thank you very much in advance for understanding.

As an illustrator you most probably try out for Either O-1 visa (freelance artist visa) or H-1 visa (employment visa). I linked to a site I found on internet for your reference to see what the criteria is. So, think of which one would be more realistic for you. (Please note: I have not used this organization. I just linked them because they had best explanation of each visa out of what I saw. The link to O-1 visa is from an attorney some of my friends have worked with) Internet is your best friend, do your own research as well.

If you apply for H-1: you should start looking for a possible employer after you graduate and when you have your OPT. Your employer should be the one who hires a lawyer to take care of your visa status. I don’t know much more than this, because I have never had an H-1.

If you apply for O-1: you should talk to alumni of your school or illustrators who recently got this visa if they can recommend you good lawyers. There are a lot of lawyers who specialize in O-1, so those who are experienced would be the best choices. They will let you know if you have potential of qualifying for O-1 or not.

You should make appointments and meet with the lawyers in person to see who is the best match for you.

Usually immigration attorneys give you first meeting for free. Once you sign on with a lawyer, you usually go with the same person as long as you stay in the US, so choose carefully. You know yourself and therefore your match the best.

From my experiences, the lawyers can answer many of the questions you have, in my case, the possibility of my getting O-1 was thoroughly explained.

Most importantly, if you want O-1 work on as many real illustration jobs as possible during your OPT, as you need to prove that you have a special talented and renowned working illustrator.

What I suggest you to do, is to ask your school’s international students office to invite immigration lawyers for Q&A sessions. This is the best possible option during school to get some of your basic questions answered. Nobody knows the immigration law better than them.

And, my two cents here is…when you are still in school, try not to loose sleep over it. The best you can do is that you do your best wok, learn as much as possible, so that you are professionally ready when you graduate. If you worry too much and can’t concentrate on school, that would not help you in any way. First comes your work, then visa should naturally follow.

Good luck.

On Medium, Technique, Skill & Style

How did you come up with a distinctive style in your work? I am trying to figure out my own style.

People mention that my work has a distinctive look, so I assume that it does. It is extremely difficult to view my work from the third person’s point of view. But I can say this: my work look certain way, only because this is the only way I think, and because I am who I am and that is something I cannot change.
I actually don’t believe in the word “style”.  However I believe fully and deeply in “personal voice” which I learnt by studying under professors with the same/similar belief: Marshall Arisman, Thomas Woodruff, Mirko Ilic, David Sandlin and Marilyn Minter to name a few.

I often meet young illustrators who are struggling to try to “find” their style.  My advice is: style is not something you can force yourself to  “look for” or “find”. You are you, different from everyone else, and your personal voice should already be within you. Learn to let that come out in your work.

I grew up in Japan in the 1960s and 70s with comic books and TV cartoons. I naturally started drawing by imitating them. I stopped reading comics or watching anime by the early 80s, but by then I wasn’t able to get rid of my early influences and actually hating it.

After I moved to New York and started art school, my initial goal was to learn to draw and paint “like an American”. It didn’t take long to realize that din’t work. I just don’t think, paint, or use colors like Americans among other things. My instructors helped me realize it is OK to being a Japanese person who’s work had early influences of my own popular culture.

Of course, the process was not easy as it sounds here. It took me a long time, starting from learning not to hate my own work.

So, what would be more useful than coming up with superficial gimmicky style is that you go out for a soul search, although I am not to try to sound new age here.

Who are your favorite artists/illustrators and what are your biggest inspirations?

When I get asked about favorite artists, I usually answer “too many to name”, which is really true.

I have lived long enough therefore I have made a long enough list of artists I love, for many different reasons. I have had a lot of artists who had influenced my work over the years, at the same time, most of those who I have admired, copied, and have helped build and shape my work, I have grown out of them and their work don’t really mean much to who I am now.

One time recently I was playing this game with artist friends, and one said “name your favorite artist without thinking at all, and you have to name one quickly”, My answer was Alexander Rodchenko. I think this answer is pretty accurate, although, I have many MANY other artists who I am crazy about.

I don’t have (a) favorite illustrator(s). It is totally fine to have favorite illustrators when you are still students, and get influenced by them. But becoming a working professional in the field means that you become peers with all the people you were a fan of, and that your work should stop looking like your peers’.

Never aim to be the second best.

I love many of my friends’/peers’ works for various different reasons, but I am no longer a fan.

My biggest inspirations are everything I experience in my life. I used to work in PR, and wrote many interview articles over the years. That made me realize how each individual sees the world so differently from another. It was fascinating.

I am still very much interested in various people’s experiences. I don’t have TV, but I listen to WNYC all day long as I work. There are many eye-opening moments. I especially love listening to interviews, and I often take subway down to WNYC studio for live audience recordings.

I love traveling to places I have never been, so I try to take every opportunity when I get invited to speak at schools or judge competitions.

I intentionally try to collect information and inspirations from things outside of what I do for living, hoping that would make my drawings richer, even just a bit.

Also check out my blog about my 15 influences

What is your medium and technique?

Japanese calligraphy brushes specifically made for Buddhist sutra transcription (manufactured by Boku-un-do, not easy to find in the USA).
Brause drawing nibs #512 & #515 (used occasionally)
Dr. Ph. Martin’s Black Star Matte waterproof india ink
high quality watercolor paper (T H Saunders Waterford cold press)
both ink and paper can be purchased from DaVinci Art Supply or  NY Central Art Supply which are the art supply stores of my choice.

COLORING MEDIUM:  Adobe Photoshop (currently on CS5.5)

Those of you who are interested in working with brush and ink, I recommend you to start from thin synthetic watercolor brushes (like size 00 or 000) on smooth surface like bristle paper. Japanese and Chinese calligraphy brushes are extremely soft and long therefore very hard to control. Same is true on working on rough surfaces. I only recommended them to advanced brush-users. But once you get hold on how to use Asian brushes, you can get the thinnest to the thickest of lines with one brush, and they are the best inking tool ever.
I don’t use or recommend brush-pens, other than when you are outside sketching. Easy to use mediums are convenient, but never make your skill better. I may be very old-school in that sense.

Time to time, I post illustration work process on my blog and also on my Facebook page, which may be interesting for someone who is curious about such process.

NEW (Apr 2014): my first SKILLSHARE ink drawing class has just started. Open to world-wide audience, for just $10 to watch this video course. 

Can you teach me how you work on Photoshop?

I don’t teach my technique. The main reason is because I have learned different skills over the years mostly by studying various favorite pieces of work, try to figure out how the artists created them, and then experimenting with my own theory.

The way I figured out were probably nowhere near how the artists actually did. (I remember using paint and coloring in flat to mimic a piece of vector art. Good old days!)  Some failed, some succeeded, in either case I learnt a lot. I value this experience and using that as my teaching philosophy.

However, if you are a beginner and try to learn how Photoshop works, the best way to go is to ask friends who know a bit better than you do, so you can get the basics down. And the rest, you can play around and figure out your own way.

When I had no idea how to use Photoshop, my then-classmates Olivier Kugler and Nathan Fox mainly taught me the basics, with some help from my then-roommate James Jean.

What about the textures in your images?

One thing I can tell you is that whatever texture you see in my work is hand-done, and not done on the computer.

My advice for digital colorist is; never use filters except for maybe occasional color half-tone. Filters make your work look ugly.

It is your hands that should be creating your images and not the computer. Computer is just another tool. Use it well. Don’t be used by it. If you want textures, try out anything and everything you can think of. You will soon find what works for you.

It feels like everyone is switching to computer. Should I ditch my paint brushes and be a digital illustrator?

Absolutely not! Don’t get caught up in the trend and what’s new. Be true to yourself and who you are as an artist. If you hate painting and love computer, welcome to the world of digital art. But if you love painting and traditional medium, why quit?

Legendary designer Paul Rand once said,  “What’s new has nothing to do with what’s good. What is good is timeless”.  If you are a good traditional artist and love it, there is no reason for you to switch to what you really don’t love.

Because you feel like it is old fashioned? You live in 21st century, reflect your time in your own way. Learn from people like Sam Weber, James Jean, Hellovon or James Blagden.

Because it takes too long? You need to get faster. Shawn Barber paints in oil and finish up a portrait in less than a day. Chris Buzelli knows every single trick to make his paintings dry fast from years of experience. Look at Tim O’Brien’s detailed realistic work, and see how many illustration he puts out a year.

I use what I use, because I cannot think of any other way. I tried to be a painter (I still paint quite OK), and soon realized I think in lines and flat colors, not in forms. I can draw lines and patterns forever and feel meditative. Painting frustrates me and I keep thinking of how many more hours I have to sit in front of an easel. It was just not for me.

People often think I have a comic influence and Japanese edge which are considered trendy. but I grew up in Japan and started drawing imitating comics I read . This is jut me being me. You cannot expect me to draw and paint like Americans, or anyone else.

Just need to stick to what you love. Trends just come and go. You don’t come and go. So, be you.

Then, is there medium I should or should not use?

In the sophomore class I teach I ban using of certain mediums. I am teaching to help students become next generation of illustrators. I believe it is my job to have them exposed to the real artists medium, have them try out everything they can while they are in school so they can eventually pick a (or a few) medium and that they can explain why the medium work for them.

First of all, I ban them from using computer. Why? Because exposed to the computer too early in the stage will stop them from becoming a real artist.

It takes years to learn how to draw and paint. You can learn how to use basic Photoshop in a day if you already know how to draw, paint, mix colors and make good compositions. Computer won’t turn you into a good artist. It is important to ‘use your hands’ to learn before you move on to digital art.

I also ban them from using an easy medium that is substitute of real art medium.

Too many students love Microns too much. I have nothing against Micron itself for doing quick sketches, to carry around with you when you travel / commute. I use them too. I am against those who think Micron can be a real medium. It is not.

Micron is a fake sibling of  Rapidograph, Rotring, and nib pens.   Ballpoint pens are for writing, not for drawing. Markers are toy version of watercolors. Crayons are pastels for kindergarten kids. Colored pencils are not made to color surface bigger than 1square centimeters. These mediums make you lazy as an artist.

Rapidohgrap, nib pens, watercolors and other paint medium, pastel, etc are hard to use and take a long time to learn to be good at. But when you master them, it allows you to do 100X more than the cheap fake mediums do.

When you are in school, you can make mistakes. You learn by making mistakes and become a better artist. In the real world, you cannot make mistakes or you will loose a client forever.

I am not trying to be mean or hard on them. My job as a teacher is to let my students make mistakes and learn while they can.

If they learn the real medium and at the end come to a conclusion that a ballpoint pen is the only medium that works for them, then I would be happy for them, really. (And, I do love Hope Gangloff‘s work.)

Sales of Work / Product Related Questions

Are there monographs of your work I can purchase?

In Spring of 2016, a new monograph Living with Yuko Shimizu was published from ROADS Publishing of Ireland. Useful purchase links are listed on my shop. 
First children’s book I have illustrated Barbed Wire Baseball (written by Marissa Moss) was published from Abrams in spring 2013. See the images here purchase from Amazon here

The very first self-titled monograph was published from German design publisher Gestalten in fall 2011, however, the book is out of print as of 2015.

Do you sell prints of your work?

You can make purchase directly from my online store .
The online store also lists prints and products that are sold from third party stores for your convenience.

Do you sell original drawings?

Yes, but they are not currently listed on my shop. I deal with request by request basis.  If you have interest in specific work(s), please e-mail [email protected]. Either my assistant or I respond to each inquiry with the availability, pricing, and jpgs of the original b/w drawings.
Price point varies based on size and usage. Usually starts around $1,000USD for lower ends, comic book covers go around $3,000USD, poster size may be a bit higher. Just to give you some idea.

Do you take private commissions? Can you design tattoos for me?

I am sorry I don’t. I like to focus on my career in commercial illustration. I also believe that experienced tattoo artists are the ones who can design the tatoos that look best on your body.

Who designed your awesome website? Is there an app for that?

My website was built by the talented people of Sideways.
Though it uses WordPress as its base, the website does not use any app or theme to get this specific look. It was custom built based on the specific request I have made to them. But of course, you can also hire them to get your site built. They are awesome. 🙂

Student Assignment Related Questions

Can I interview you for my school project?

My work schedule does not allow me to reply to each individual request. This section was create to fill that gap. Hopefully this answers enough of the questions you have. Thank you for understanding.

Can you look at my work /website? Can you give me some feedback?

I usually have about 30+ students I have to look after at SVA. They gets the priority when it comes to teaching. When I am not teaching, I have to focus on my freelance illustration work. This leaves me not much extra time, as giving feedback to someone’s work needs a lot of time to look, focus, think and come up with the right way to communicate.
Those who are not my students, I do teach multi-day illustration workshops here and there. During those workshops, I do take time to give general feedback to their portfolio upon request basis. I announce upcoming workshops in NEWS section whenever they come up.

My school has a mentorship program. Can you be my mentor?

Unfortunately no.  Every school year at SVA I teach an undergraduate class of about 15-18 students and intensively advise thesis project for one graduate student.  Now I have my TutorMill students as well. Juggling freelance work with teaching obligations I already have is extremely time consuming. I take my teaching job seriously and want to give full attention to those whom I am already committed to and responsible for.

My way of connecting with students and young artists outside of my school is to make  school visits and attend speaking events as long as  I can squeeze them into my schedule.

Can I come visit your studio? Do you take interns?

I am sorry but no. At our studio we do not take individual studio-visit requests because of our hectic schedule and small space.

Unfortunately, I do not take interns, neither paid nor for school credit.
I have an assistant who comes in about once a week who do office stuff, shipping, as well as digital coloring help. And once a week one assistant is pretty much all I need right at the moment. It is also my job to secure his position.
Please do understand that I also don’t recommend other working artists for your possible internship opportunities. This being I believe the best experience comes from you personally seek out to work with the artists you really want to work with. I am certain there are plenty of artists who can use (summer) interns’ help.