Yuko Shimazu Yuko Shimazu Yuko Shimizu

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

SPECTRUM 21 silver medal, and my love letter to fantasy art

It was a huge surprise.
One of my pieces won a SPECTRUM 21 silver medal in editorial category. This happened over the past weekend’s SPECTRUM Fantastic Art LIVE event in Kansas City.

It is supposed to be “the Oscars for Sci-Fi fantasy art”. I am in the midst of four trips in two months (heading out to the last trip tomorrow), so I  was not there. I saw the photo of the theater, and it was BEAUTIFUL. I wish I was there.
With the event’s request, I wrote a small acceptance speech beforehand ‘in case’ if my piece wins something. I sent this very last minutes, so I am not sure if it was read on stage or not, but I though I post the whole thing here anyways.  It was a love letter to fantasy art, and how it helped me get through my first years as a kid newly living in the US.

When I moved to New York as a child in the late 70s, I didn’t speak any English. My parents and teachers thought it was a good idea I read a lot of English books to get better at my second language and soon, I found myself spending every weekend for many hours in the sci-fi fantasy section of the bookstore, just because covers were so beautiful. I picked up many paperbacks with covers illustrated by Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo, among other artists who’s work I loved. My English was terrible, so I couldn’t read most of them, I bought them for the covers, and most of them are still in my parents home in Tokyo. 

I tried to imitate their wok with my very limited ability to draw and paint. My dream was to be on the covers of those books one day. I even wrote a fan letter to Boris, when I was around13, with a xeroxed copy of one of my drawings folded into half and tacked into a small envelope.

It is a HUGE honor to receive an award from Spectrum. I wish I can go back to 1977 and tell that kid in the Fantasy isle of a bookstore in suburban New York. Though I don’t think she would ever believe it. 

Thank you SO much.
The piece was created for AI CIO Magazine, AD was SooJin Buzelli.  Congratulations to all the winners. List of all the medal winning pieces here