What would you do, what would you go for in your 30s? Yuko Shimizu, having saved up money, decided to quit her job in a large Japanese corporation and enter an art school in New York, eventually becoming a world-renowned illustrator, who has collaborated with both Microsoft and the New York Times. and even graphic design icon Stefan Sagmeister.
Yuko Shimizu’s work has been featured on Gap T-shirts, Pepsi cans, Visa billboards, London Penguin covers, New Yorker, Rolling Stone and Time …
It did not happen overnight: it took Yuko 3 years to collect the amount necessary for moving and studying. But as the artist herself notes, it’s never too late to make your dreams come true.
“If in America workers can face a glass ceiling, then in Japan you are almost in a glass cube,” Yuko begins the story of the former tyrant boss, who gave her the necessary impetus to abandon a stable monthly income and immerse herself in art for the first time in my life – at 34 years old.
“I dressed like my 18-year-old fellow students, trying to blend in with them,” she recalls with a laugh.
What advice can the artist give from her many years of experience?
First of all, it’s never too late to decide and start doing what you really want, it doesn’t matter if you’re 19 or 90.
“Time is constantly running out: today we are not as young as yesterday, and tomorrow we will not become younger. Work for your dream now. “
Seven essential tips from Yuko Shimizu on how to achieve success in illustration.
1. Step out of your comfort zone a little every day
“I don’t mean to cross the street in the wrong place or run in front of the bus. Many artists have their own corporate style, and each of their work is a variation of this very style. But endlessly repeating the same actions just drives me crazy – which is why I quit the corporation.
When working with customers, however, you need to keep in mind the time frame. Each of my new projects consists of about a quarter of things that I have never done: a new color scheme or just an object that I have not depicted before. It makes me a little nervous, but it’s also the most delicious part.
If the order is half of what I still need to learn, I just panic and the client doesn’t call me again. So I take a lot of small orders at the same time: about 10 is ideal for development, without huge risks. This path suits me.
2. It’s okay to refuse an order.
“Because there will always be someone else who wants to fulfill it. If I refuse to work, I offer the customer the person to whom I can turn.
When I left Japan, so many people gave me a helping hand on my way. The teachers shared their contacts: “Tell me that you are from me and they will call you back.”
I don’t know if I will ever be able to thank them, but now I am trying to help those who need it with work ”.
3. Exceed the capabilities of photography
“Since photography is popular again, a lot of orders go to photographers. Sometimes it seems to me that I receive orders only for projects where photography cannot convey the whole essence. I always try to create works that cannot be done with a camera. “
4. Do not take on too time-consuming orders
“I’m not even talking about cases when you have to work all night long. You may be faced with an important and complex project, the thoughts of which, despite the hard work during the day, will haunt at night and interfere with sleep. Try to avoid this. “
5. The project was a success when the customer was convinced of this.
Not all of the artist’s projects are shown on her website. There are a few jobs that Shimizu is proud of as well as shy about them.
“In the end, the main thing is that, for my part, I did my best and the customers were satisfied. But here you cannot create purely personal masterpieces, they may not like the customer. “
6. Don’t work for free – it devalues the work of others
“On the way to professionalism, people make mistakes, draw conclusions and improve. But sometimes it’s better to learn from the mistakes of others. For example, on mine. “
One day, Shimizu provided a very persistent startup with one of her finished works for free. What came out of this:
“They promised to advertise me. Sometimes it really happens, sometimes it doesn’t; these people have kept their promise. But when I had already forgotten about this case, I received a message from my fellow illustrator, where she wrote that she was offered to work for free, and if I do not know what is the matter. “
And then Shimizu realized that at that time she, in essence, made it clear to the client that there was no need to pay for the art.
“Many artists willingly give away their work for ‘advertising’. I have already stepped on this rake. A creative work is called “work” because it is work. “
7. However, there are rewards that are worth more than money.
“In my spare time I try to do charity work. It gives an amazing feeling: if you are a professional artist and make money from it, take the time for charity work. Nothing if there is no time at the moment. Just go forward to your goal, do not stray from the path. Later, time will appear for charity. “
Translation: Valeria Ivanova