Referral Breif- Yuko Shimizu


Yuko Shimizu’s work appeals to me because of it’s perfect mix of the style and feel of traditional japanese woodblock carving and the themes and images of the modern world. This is seen in the image above where a teenage japanese girl could be mistake for a geisha if it were not for her clothing. Yuko’s delightful mixing of these two comes forth most strongly in her traditionally japanese stlye work. 

“Yuko’s style is deeply evocative of Ukiyo-e masters Hokusai and Hiroshige, taking cues from these traditional Japanese woodblocks to inform her character design, but making it contemporary with distinctly modern themes.”

Her characters in her japanese themed work look as if they could have been picked out of an old traditional woodblock. This makes her work very appealing and also makes people double take and look harder at her pieces to see the various modern cues.

“Working in brush and ink, Yuko creates dynamic illustrations of often-surreal environments that imbue her subject with a true sense of the epic. She’s also got an extensive body of personal work that includes some incredible erotic art (no, really) in the form of Letters of Desire an alphabet book quite unlike anything you’ve seen before.”  

Her work mostly looks so traditionally made one could mistake her for actually using the woodblock tecnique, whilst in truth she works by using other tools to mimic the older way.


I think this piece and other pieces like it can almost be seen as representative of the kind of cultural clash that is happening in modern japan today; where the culture is stuck between its rich and traditional past but also trying to except more western influence and values. She experianced this herself first hand being discouraged from art from an early age.

The flowing lines of her work lend themselves well to the inviting curves of the natural world and the very elements we so badly need to protect. Her illustrations range in topic from sustainable eating and deforestation, to oil drilling and environmentally friendly cars.

Yuko has an incredible talent for producing works that are beautifully artistic, meaningful and clever.

 “If I come up with an idea that would look better as a photo, then my idea is not good,” 

she says, a hint at her impeccably high standards. She’s worked for seriously high profile clients as a result, just a short sample including TIME, NY Times, The New Yorker, Pepsi, Rolling Stone and Playboy. Each of her works is hand illustrated and digitally colored, producing images that are both organic and perfect, just like nature.



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