Yuko Shimizu
February 2010
Waiting For Spring
Why is snow so pretty when it is falling, but becomes a huge mess right after?  Winter feels a lot severe this year, doesn't it?
When trees start to get light green new leaves, and flowers start blooming everywhere, that is my favorite season. I have been dreaming about Spring ever since this long winter started.

When SooJin Buzelli called me for PLANSPONSOR cover with the theme of "the worst is over", this was the idea which came to my mind immediately: my longing for spring...

Process post of this image felt perfectly appropriate today when you cannot walk outside New York City without a good pair of rubber boots.
three ideas submitted. I would have been happy to do the other two as well. I really like drawing plants (and suitcases).
these are my inspirations. bunch of shabby-chic door photos downloaded from internet. Although, I rarely use one specific photo as reference, so the final result was mix and match of them all.
original b/w drawing on watercolor paper. I normally finish everything on the drawing stage, but this one is very much half-done. Soft snow does not need harsh outlines.
final illustration. As you can compare with the original drawing, all the snow is added directly on Photoshop stage. Butterflies were drawn separately as well.
Photoshop progress stage. This illustration had so many layers, I have a lot of folders, and there are some more folders inside folders to have everything organized and so that I can keep track of everything.
Close-up of the trees in original drawig and in final Photoshop file. separate layers of gray-white were added to add depth to snow, and outlines were softened. I even added one more tree behind the third one on the right to give idea of space.
Final cover. Creative Director: SooJin Buzelli. Loving the type treatment woven into the scarves.
By the way, I do draw snow scenes a lot. This goes back to when I was in graduate school and I was getting good at drawing figures but terrible at putting them in environment.
Thomas Woodruff, my thesis adviser, gave me an assignment to put people interacting in some kind of environment. I got panic, and drew this (left). It made me realize that drawing snow scene was: 1. Easy  2. Fun. I ended up drawing a whole bunch.
Now, I am proud to say I can put people in any environment. So, thank you Tom.
And this first snow trial eventually got me a gig to do the New York Times Travel Section (AD: Barbara Richer) cover (right), my first big job.
Well, I should probably love snow.
My first environment (=snow) attempt when I was in graduate school (left). And memorable first 'big' gig that brought me (right).
Samurai Process.
Congratulations again to everyone who’s work is exhibited at the Society of Illustrators Book/Editorial Show, and nice seeing you (those who were there) at the opening party on Friday night.  Missed the party? No worries,  the exhibit is open to public through February 20th.

I had realized I forgot to post the creative process of the cover for The Beautiful and Grotesque, a collection of short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, one of the most celebrated modern Japanese authors.  So, here it is.

AD: Albert Tang (W.W. Norton) and Rodrigo Corral (Rodrigo Corral Design).
The book will be published from W.W. Norton this year.
The process started from rough ideas. I gave them four different scenes from the longest story in the book: The Robbers. I think the only art direction I got is that it is an adult fiction and the cover should not look like a young adult book. I always repeated that in my head while working on ideas as well as coloring process.
They picked one of them, and the next stage was to make the wrap around sketch for the cover.
My secret weapon and amazing reference book for this project: "勇者の装い Samurai Armor Design" from PIE Books of Japan, bought at Kinokuniya Bookstore Bryant Park branch in New York. It is a wonderful coffee table book and makes a great gift too.
As you can see, sketch with gutter space is printed out to the size I would draw, and traced onto watercolor paper using light box. The rest is just tedious drawing process using ink and brush for hours till I am done.
black and white drawing is done. Next step is coloring on Photoshop.
screenshot of Photoshop process. As you can see, I ended up multiplying arrows to give image more depth and contemporary feel to the image.
This is the final wrap around cover image.
There were a few color variations to choose from. I actually liked this fuchsia version too. Intentionally chose the color that is not in traditional Japanese color scheme to give it contemporary feel.
final front cover. I love this unexpectedly contemporary design. I am so happy they didn't take the expected direction of making it look very Japanese. Design: Rodrigo Corral, AD: Albert Tang
We Will Rock You.
I don’t like to regret.  So I try not to dwell over things that didn’t work out in past.  But there is one incident I cannot get over after many many years: missed a Queen concert, with, yes,  a backstage pass.

I grew up with an older sister so when I was in elementary school I was already familiar with such Queen albums as A Night At The Opera and Sheer Heart Attack. Yes, long before the famous News of the World album became the super-mega-hit.

Somehow, my social savvy sister got backstage pass to Queen concert in the 80s and invited me to come with her. I don’t know why I didn’t. I probably was too young and maybe midterm exam was more on my mind than Queen. Stupid me.
My sister came back with tons of photos of Freddie and Roger and rest of the band members eating yakitori in a small restaurant during the after party. 
And that was the last tour Queen had in Tokyo before Freddie Mercury passed away shortly after. 

Illustrators all have our ‘dream job list’. In the beginning, we get excited crossing one out at a time. After a while we realize it is OK not to cross everything out and eventualy forget about the list.  But once in a while, out of the blue things on the list come back and surprise us with excitement.  Needless to say Freddie Mercury was on the top of my list, but I thought the day would never come because it has been so long since he has left this world.

Siung Tjia, Creative Director of ESPN The Magazine, is a friend, but most of the time we talk about Chinese movies we love and Korean food we want to try for next lunch, so I assume he had no idea about my dream job list when he called me.  Well, thank you Siungl! This was such a treat and a PERFECT assignment. And designer was Lou Vega.

The story was about America’s No.1 Stadium Anthem. Of course, it was Queen’s We Will Rock You written by Brian May The article (and illustration) is in the latest issue of ESPN on newsstand now.
rough layout first, then to a sketch, then to revised sketch with larger crowd and prominent stadium.
For me, Freddie is all about THIS costume. It was long before We Will Rock You, but I had to put him in this outfit. This shocked me when I was about 10 years old...
gathered a lot more reference of Freddie (when he was older). I noticed he holds the microphone in a specific way, so I mimicked that in the final illustration.
black and white drawing before Photoshop stage. Black india ink on watercolor paper. Original size about 18.25" x 22"
final image. I worked extra hard on this (not that I don't work hard on other ones). Ah, flash-back of the missed last concert and Freddie in yakitori restaurant photos while working on this....
details of the crowd. Metallica and Village People also made the list.
final layout. Siung Tjia CD, Lou Vega AD/design. ESPN The Magazine Fan Issue is out now.
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