Yuko Shimizu
June 2009
You Look Great in It!
Brooklyn-based boxer John Douglas posing cool in The Gap shirt.
OK, so I have to be absolutely honest. I do NOT wear t-shirts. They look horrible on me. Over the years, many t-shirt design gigs came and went without fruitful results. It probably has something to do with my t-shirt illiteracy.
But that does not mean I don’t like t-shirts on other people.  In fact, they look great on almost everyone, well, other than me.

The Gap (PRODUCT)RED was patient enough to work with such a person like me to come out with my first (I hope it is not going to be the last!) four designs this season.
I cannot explain my excitement seeing people looking great in them, especially knowing that the proceeds will help women and children affected by AIDS in Africa.
Thank you, thank you and thank you, for those who bought, and those great design and technical team at The Gap  who transformed my digital files into awesome shirts.

top row from left: Yausi Mora and Emilia Casana in Puebla, Mexico, Yuki Ikezi from Santa Clara, California. second row: Juan Carlos Vazquez Padilla in Acapulco, Mexico, John Douglas in Brooklyn, NY, Jack Tse in New York. third row: Michael Thorner from Toronto, Canada. Bottom row: Sam Gorrie in Las Vegas, Nevada, Aida Aguilera Rocha from Xalapa, Mexico
There are four designs in total. All of them in women's sizes and right two are also available in men's sizes. Top left was original image created for this project, and the other three are pre-existing images adjusted for the shirts.

There is only one shirt that was created originally for the project (fortune cookie). Yes. But that does not mean I didn't squeeze my t-shirt-dummy-brain to come up with various ideas. In fact, I think some of them are not at all bad although they were not made into the production.
Anyone interested in realizing them into final products? Well, contact me and let me know. We can discuss!

Read more about (PRODUCT)RED, how it helps Africa, and to purchase shirts here.

I have to say, it is a different kind of excitement I feel when I see my work on wearable objects and displayed in stores like this!!
Swine Flu? Drug War? What’s That???? A Guide to a Sophisticated Travel to Mexico
21 years ago, I landed in Mexico for the first time, to a small town of Merida. I took long mini-bus rides, busses so old that you see the moving road beneath the holes on the floor, to various Mayan ruins around Yukatan Peninsula. It was a pure MAGIC. This is how I forever fell in love with Mexico.  You cross the border to the north and not much changes (Canadians, no offence. I love you). You cross to the south, and it is a whole another world of its’ own like nowhere else. Busses in Mexico now are comfortable and super clean, but the magic I felt 21 years ago is still there, everywhere in Mexico.

Drug wars? Swine flu? Mexico has not had good reputation recently.
But please remember, media often make things seem a lot serious than it actually is. Flights to Mexico now can be as cheap as flying out to California (from NY, that is), and top-notch hotels have huge discounts. Food is so good that you never want to go back to that fake American-Mexican restaurant around the corner where everything taste like melted processed cheese. People are ridiculously nice and warm, they make sure you will bring back the best of the memories.

I mistook last weekend as Memorial Day weekend (duh!) and took a five day trip  to Puebla, Mexico.
I want to take you to a virtual tour of this magical town, one of UNESCO World Heritage sites, where you can see from 3000 year old Aztec pyramid to the history of Conquistadors to the latest coolest loft architectures where trendsetters gather. Vienvenidos!

everywhere is so colorful.
old (working) car in front of the Cathedral.
this is just a random building on a random street. Everything is just so beautiful like this.
Sundays... people gather in a courtyard and have dance shows.
a toy store.
3000 year old pyramid. Conquistadors built a church on top of it to show their power. History and war.., always crazy like that.
you can take a tour 'inside' the Pyramid of Cholula. It is a crazy maze in there.
don't miss walking inside a market!!
never pass in front of a church and not go in. Santa Maria Tonanzintla is worth a cab ride. Mind-blowing.
drive-through Mariachi, literary. You can buy a song for about $10 US.
La Purificadora. The hippest, coolest hotel in town. I saw an article in GQ about 2 years ago, and had been obsessed about this place since. It was way more than what I expected. My travel-mate and comic artist June Kim with friends at Amarillo Centro de Diseno in Xalapa who came to see us.
the best Posole (soup) in town. Sit at a plastic table and chair, and have the best meal of your life.
ladies and gentlemen, this is THE real huevos rancheros.
That's right. You never pass in front of a church without entering...
Jesus in Mexico does not lie. Yes, it was painful..
Everywhere is this beautiful in Puebla! A perfect shabby-chic!
Just in case.. My friend Emilia from Xalapa (left) made me a hand-knit swine-flu mask!! Now I am not afraid of anything!
Drawing for Comic Books
I dreamed of becoming a comic artist when I was child. Just like any other Japanese kid growing up in economic growth of 1960s and 70s.  It was the first golden age of manga and anime: Astro Boy, Cyborg 009, Galaxy Express 999…. When I was in college, I even drew my first (and the last) 40 page comic (note: I was a business major, not art) which made me realize I was not a story-teller and comics were probably not my calling.  I stopped reading comics and dreaming of one day creating one.
About 20 years since then, I am back to comics. But completely in a new way.

I love challenge. I love working on different projects and push myself to a new direction. Working on covers for new DC Vertigo series The Unwritten is a perfect way to revisit my childhood dream.  
Luckly I was able to team up with the best of the best, and the nicest of the nicest (writer: Mike Carey, artist: Peter Gross, editor: Pornsak Pichetshote). Story is extremely well written, intelligent, interesting, also a really good page turner. I just heard that the first issue completely sold out in just ten days after initial release. Wow!

PS: If anyone is interested, I will be at MoCCA Festival's DC Vertigo booth signing the covers this Saturday from 1-2PM.

One of the challenges of being comic cover artist is to recreate and re-interpret the story and the character without too far removed from the original. Bottom row is the main character Tommy drawn by Peter. Top row is variations of Tommy drawn by me. He has long sideburns and chooses bowling shirts as everyday fashion.
It took a while to warm up to the new series. It is always difficult on the first few issues when I am not used to the story and characters are not developed fully yet. First 4 sketches were OK, but not great...
the first first cover. Both the editors and I were not feeling it... So we decided to ditch it and start from scratch.
more sketches that didn't fly... But looking back, I do like some of them a lot.
finally, everyone agreed on the bottom left one.
The first step of final illustration is to draw with india ink (Dr. Ph. Martin's Black Star) with Japanese calligraphy brush.
In this case, drawings were in three separate sections: main drawing, letter layer and a book. They are scanned in and put together on Adobe Photoshop.

PS (June 6, 2009):
Thank you for those who stopped by to MoCCA DC Vertigo Booth today. Here are some photos. Right is with my editor Pornsak Pichetshote and long-time friend and an amazing colorist Jose Villarrubia.

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