BFA Illustration faculty member Yuko Shimizu is a prolific and successful illustrator whose work has graced everything from graphic novels and international magazine covers to billboard ads and T-shirts. Around the world, she’s well known as an inspiring lecturer and workshop leader; she’s also a proud SVA alumnus (MFA 2003 Illustration as Visual Essay). As such, Shimizu is one of more than 350 protégés of Marshall Arisman showcased in “We Tell Stories”—an exhibition celebrating the 30th anniversary of the department’s founding—on view November 4 through December 17 at the SVA Chelsea Gallery. Here she shares some brief reflections on her career and SVA experience.
What are you working on now?
I am working on a really fun book collaboration with Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Michael Cunningham and talented book designer Rodrigo Corral for FSG [Farrar, Straus and Giroux]. It has been a lot of work, but I am having so much fun with it. We still have more than a year until the book gets published.
Your favorite project ever?
It is hard to pick a favorite, because 11 years after graduation and more years of working, there are so many great memories. In general, the more rocky the process was, the more memorable the project gets.
Most prominent memory of your SVA days?
There are lots of great memories, but the ones that stick with you vividly are the hard ones. I was working on a homework assignment and it was on a large canvas, so I worked in one of the empty classrooms at night. I noticed there were apples on the painting pedestal that one of the instructors must have left from a still life assignment.
I was living off of very small budget during school, and basically really poor. So, I happily took them back home. Yay, free apples! …only to find out back in my apartment that the reason they were left there was because they were rotten. I was so disappointed. Whenever I hit hard times, I think of those apples and remember how much harder it was back when I was a student.
Words of wisdom for current students?
Embrace and work on your personal voice!