Yuko Shimizu
June 2010
Does this print well?
Illustration job does not end when I send out my finals. Actually the real result, or more like the judgment day, comes when I receive the actual printed samples.
Sometimes, what I thought was a nice piece does not print so well. Or, what I felt was so so looks great in print. It is a constant learning lesson as a commercial artist to figure out what works in print and what doesn't. Of course, how well an illustration looks also has a lot to do with how well the whole 'package' is designed.  

I just got samples of a new book in mail. I talked about this book multiple times in past, so, I am sorry if you are sick of it. Japanese classic: Ryunosuke Akutagawa's The Beautiful and The Grotesque. A great title, a fantastic book, published by WW Norton. Fabulous design by Rodrigo Corral (BIG fan!) and my sweet AD was Albert Tang.

This project actually  didn't have an easy path. It started two summers ago, when Rodrigo contacted me to work together (hell yah I'm a fan). Then, it was on hold when economy went south all of a sudden. Last summer, the project revived with six interior illustrations. And another long one year has passed, and now I am holding the physical book! Happiness is even more.

I put a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of love into this project, and with the great work by Rodrigo and Albert, it looks awesome (At least I think so). I am really really proud, and wanted to share this with you. (Although, I know, you have seen it many times before. But at least you have not seen the interior illustrations though. )
sketches for interior illustrations. Deadline was short, and Albert was "do whatever you want!". (yay.) I think I finished one or two final illustrations a day to meet the deadline. It was just a blast for me though.

This was a story about Hina Dolls for Girls Day (March 3). In Japanese tradition, you take out the dolls only once a year for the holiday. This looks like the doll I grew up with. My mother still have them.

Kappa is a mythical creature believed to live by the streams.

Saigo Takamori is a famous Japanese historic figure everyone is familiar with (in Japan, that is...)

Woman's Body is the only story in this book that takes place in China. Very short but very powerful tale.

Japanese badger looks more like a raccoon. It was believed they perform magic and trick people.

for the main and the longest story The Robbers, the interior illustration was a revival of one of the killed cover ideas. It was nice to be able to finish this idea.

wrap around cover in actual 'package'. 満足。(very satisfied.)

Personal Work to Job Work.
People often ask me if I have time to do some personal work in between illustration jobs. While a lot of my peers have straight answer of 'yes' or 'no', mine's more like, well, in between.

Everyone has different balance of jobs, personal work, and recharging. I draw all the time, so for the last few years, when I am not working, I rather use that time to recharge (=not draw) so I can get inspired so that I can create more in the future.  

Then, where doe my personal creative outlet go?
I luckily have a few clients who let me experiment, and create work I would rather be creating during my free time (if I have any). And here it goes back to today's post: Creative director SooJin Buzelli of PLANSPONSOR and PLANADVISER magazines as being the queen of that.

This is the most recent project I just finished for her. Both of the magazines focus on highly specialized and specific financial topics, SooJin knows how to get the best and most creative ideas out of illustrators by providing only the topic (sometimes just the title) of each article. This article's topic: listening and processing different pieces of advise.

You can see the whole magazine including other illustrations in this issue online.
three ideas submitted. I liked the top left and the bottom. She seems to always know which one I am most excited about.

b/w drawing with ink on watercolor paper. Rather large, as you can see...

I have a lot of books I use for color references. For this one, I wanted to use old fashioned limited color palette, so I pulled out a Japanese book of old Russian childrens books. Bottom right was my big inspiration for this piece, although the final color scheme is a lot different. By the way, this is one of my favorite books to use for color scheme references. In case if anyone is interested, the book is called: 幻のロシア絵本 1920-1930年代 publisher:淡交社 ISBN4-473-03166-7

screen-shot of Photoshop coloring in progress. Yes, I have added the dot pattern inspired by the Russian illustration.

final illustration, done!! If I have a choice, I rather limit the colors like this every time I work. I am not crazy about coloring in every single space of the drawing. But of course, each illustration is worked on each specific needs.

Final layout. How clever of SooJin to have the type in the same size of the heads continuing onto the right page. So simple. Love it.

Cover of this issue of Planadviser. Each letter has fragment of interior illustration in it. Cute.

Hanoch Piven Interview

It's been a little more than a year and I am finally getting used to my bi-monthly gig pretending as a 'journalist' to interview and write articles about foreign* illustrators to Japanese audience of イラストレーション(Illustration) Magazine. (*foreign=from Japanese point of view)

For the latest issue just came out at the end of May, I have interviewed Hanoch Piven, who is an Isaraeli artists who works a lot with American clients, who currently lives and works in Barcelona, Spain. How international!  

For those of you who read Japanese fluently, the image is large enough for you to read in the original language the article was published. But for the rest of (and most of) you, you can read unabridged full length interview on Illustration Friday, yet again, to the kind help by Penelope Dullaghan. (Thank you Penny, and thank you Hanoch!)

Also, in the same issue, there are articles about Marcos Chin and Erik T. Johnson. Thank you both too!

No Matter How Long.....

No matter how long I have worked in this occupation, I get so excited when a drawing I did is on the cover of The New York Times.
This was the Art and Leisure section from this past Sunday. A fun project about classical music and popular music crossover. Art director was Paul Jean. (Thank you Paul!!)
I have home delivery of Saturday and Sunday Times. It is extra nice to find it right on my door, read it as I sip my morning grapefruit juice..

One of my very first jobs ( I happened to get two illustrations published on the same day, another was Village Voice) was that small spot for Letters page of NYT approximately exactly 8 years ago in 2002. And that was probably when my mother got convinced that I have my mind set on becoming an illustrator in the US. My mother does not know any US publications other than NYT, Time and Newsweek. Being on NYT is like the best present I can give to her.
three sketches were submitted. Paul said "make sketches in any shape, and I will figure out how to lay them out." I approached the story in two ways, goofy and funny approach, and serious one.

screen-shot of my desktop while I work on my final drawings. all the reference photos are opened up so I can make a 'believable image' as possible. It was really fun drawing a fancy lace gloves.

original black and white drawing with ink and brush on paper. Since it was for a cover, I drew rather big... it is about 22 inches high.

coloring on Photoshop....

Paul sent me dummy layout based on my sketch, and while working on the final image, I placed the image to see if the size works fine with the layout.

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Shimizu is teaching at TutorMill, an online mentoring site for students of illustration!
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