Yuko Shimizu

Yuko Shimizu is so impossibly talented at illustration, it would probably hurt our feelings if we weren’t so happily lost inside the hallucinatory products of her imagination. What’s equally impossible is that she almost spent her life peddling the vision of others in PR. Despite a lifelong passion for drawing, Yuko studied advertising and marketing, settling into an appropriately levelheaded career path in Tokyo for, as she says, “a long time.” Rethinking her strategy and attending the School of Visual Arts in New York, she unleashed the prolific mythological creature that is Yuko Shimizu The ProfessionalArtist. Though there is some nostalgia to her characters, with their slightly upturned noses, stray curls, and retro styling, Shimizu’s images are no Rockwellian wink. The astonishingly odd perspectives, agitated Yayoi Kusama–like patterns and textures [who would’ve thought cable knit could be so ominous?], and subversively over-posed nymphets bring the viewer to a much darker place than teatime. “I believe the most important aspect of being an artist, regardless of music or visual art, is trying one’s best to create something original.” If you’ve flipped through a magazine, practically any magazine [Playboy, Fortune, TIME, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker…], in the first half of this decade you’ve seen her work. This is not to mention the newspapers [The New York Times, LA Times, Mainichi Shinbun…], books [DC Comics, Pearson Learning, McGraw Hill…], advertisements [Red Bull, MAC Cosmetics, Neiman Marcus…], and various group shows she’s participated in. If her talent didn’t shame us, her hyperproductivity certainly has. And she only graduated from SVA in ’03. When we asked for whom she’d most like to design a record sleeve, she responded “Björk or David Bowie.” If you see them around, maybe they’d like to know that.