The cover of the Fully Booked 2017 Planner, designed by our featured artist Yuko Shimizu, was recently accepted into American Illustration, the leading hardcover annual which showcases the best of today’s top image-makers. Learn more about American Illustration here.

Last November, as she was designing our planner’s cover, we chatted with Yuko about her thoughts on art and being an artist. Read our conversation below.

Can you tell us something about yourself that not a lot of people know about?

I do so much public speaking now a days, there is not much that I talk about myself the people don’t know about. Of course, I don’t expose everything about myself, and I like that I have a little bit of somethings that I don’t share with everyone. And I would love to keep it that way 🙂

What do you most like to draw about?

I am an illustrator. That is very different from a life of, say, a fine artist. We get assignment, hopefully what clients think are suitable for our work. However, we don’t pick the topic. When we say ‘yes’, then that’s the topic we are illustrating. I like that I get to learn about things that I may never know or cared about till I get the assignment(s) and spend a lot of time learning about the topic and then illustrate it.

What’s your dream project?

I have been doing this for about 15 years. When I was younger and very eager to establish my career, I had a list of dream clients I wanted to work for. I think it’s really important I had that, and I was really eager, and that every young person who’s starting out on a career that they are really passionate about, should have that list. Crossing one at a time was my passion. But now I am doing this for quite a while, I need to relax more, and not worry about clients who have hired me or have not hired me. If a client loves my work, and think they find a perfect assignment for me, and trust me for what I do best, that’s a good project for me.

Hard work is not so hard if you are in love with what you do.
–Yuko Shimizu

What’s on your reading list?

I was just in India a few weeks ago. Every time I encounter a different culture, I really want to learn about it more. So, when I travel, I tend to read books about, but more importantly, written by authors from the country.

I just recently finished White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, Family Planning and The Association of Small Bombs, both by Karan Mahajan, the latter was FANTASTIC by the way, and I just started Ravan and Eddie by Kiran Nagarkar, which was recommended by Karan Mahajan in one of his interviews. Ravan and Eddie was written in English, but only published in India. Now with Internet, it is so easy to find a copy in the US. I bought a used copy from Texas, which arrived just past weekend. I placed an order for a couple of Manu Joseph books from my local bookstore, which is on the way. I also plan on reading The Cost of Living by Arundhati Roy, and The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee soon.

But of course, I may be totally India-ed out within next few books. In that case, I will pick something completely different from a piles and piles of to-read books that’s sitting in my apartment.

What would you like to say to all budding artists out there?

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!

©Anton Repponen 2012



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