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Yuko Shimizu (清水 裕子, Shimizu Yuko) is an award-winning Japanese illustrator based in New York City. She was selected as one of “100 Japanese People The World Respects” (世界が尊敬する日本人１００) by Newsweek Japan in 2009. Among comic fans, she is best known for her ongoing monthly covers for The Unwritten and her cover art for P. Craig Russell's comic book adaptations of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The Dream Hunters, published by Vertigo (DC Comics). Her self-titled monograph was published by Gestalten in the fall of 2011, and her children’s book, Barbed Wire Baseball, written by Marissa Moss, was scheduled to be published by Abrams Books in the spring of 2013. She has been a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts since 2003.
Shimizu, notably, is not the creator of Hello Kitty. The two are unrelated.
Within the Moribito series, Shimizu provided the cover artwork and interior illustrations for two English editions of the series.
Shimizu was born in Tokyo, Japan, and grew up mostly in Kanagawa Prefecture though she and her family spent four years in Westchester County, New York, during her teenage years.
She graduated from Waseda University’s School of Commerce in 1988 as valedictorian and soon began her first job in the corporate PR department of one of Tokyo’s largest sogo shoshas.
Eleven years later, she resigned and moved to New York City to pursue her childhood dream of becoming an artist. She set out to earn a second bachelor’s degree, this time in illustration at the School of Visual Arts. However, after finishing her sophomore year, she was accepted into the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program. She graduated in May 2003.
Shimizu began getting editorial illustration work soon after she completed her master’s degree, at first occasional assignments from the Village Voice and the New York Times, and soon after semi-regular ones for The New Yorker and Financial Times magazine. Now, she counts numerous well-known publications, publishing houses, and brands as clients.
Time, Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Times, Fortune (magazine), Businessweek, Der Spiegel, Rolling Stone, SPIN (magazine), Billboard (magazine), Entertainment Weekly, Premiere (magazine), GQ, Esquire (magazine), Playboy, Men's Health (magazine), ESPN, and Seventeen (magazine)
Abrams Books, Alfred A. Knopf, Penguin Books, McKinsey, Scholastic Corporation, Rizzoli, Simon and Schuster, and DC Comics
The Gap (clothing retailer), Microsoft, PepsiCo, NIKE, Visa Inc., MTV, Target Corporation, Neiman Marcus, T-Mobile, and Fuse (TV channel)
Comic Book CoversEdit
In 2008, Shimizu illustrated P. Craig Russell's comic book adaptations of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The Dream Hunters, her first cover illustrations for Vertigo (DC Comics). She continued her relationship with the imprint in 2009 when she began creating cover art for their ongoing comic book series The Unwritten, by Mike Carey (writer). The series was nominated for Eisner Awards in the Best Cover Artist category in 2011 and 2012.
The Gap Product RedEdit
In 2009, Shimizu collaborated with The Gap‘s AIDS charity line Product RED to create five limited-edition T-shirts (two for men, three for women) for the North American market. They quickly sold out both online and in stores.
Robin Hood Foundation L!brary InitiativeEdit
Under the auspices of the Robin Hood Foundation and Pentagram’s charitable L!brary Initiative, Shimizu collaborated with graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister on an 11-panel mural for P.S. 96 in the Bronx. The project was showcased in the New York Times and in the commemorative book L!brary (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010).
Shimizu’s other notable works include her children’s book Barbed Wire Baseball (written by Marissa Moss, Abrams Books) published in Spring 2013 and her 2008 London billboards for Tiger Beer.
Illustrated by ShimizuEdit
- Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, written by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic), 2008
- Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness, written by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic), 2009
- Yuko Shimizu, Gestalten, 2011
- Barbed Wire Baseball, written by Marissa Moss, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, Abrams, 2013
- A Wild Swan and Other Tales, written by Michael Cunningham, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015
Featuring Shimizu’s workEdit
- Illustration Now!, edited by Julius Wiedermann, Taschen, 2005
- Things I have Learned in Life So Far, by Stefan Sagmeister, Abrams, 2008
- How to be an Illustrator, by Darrel Rees, Laurence King, 2008
- Illustration: A Visual History, by Steven Heller (design writer) and Seymour Chwast, Abrams, 2008
- Society of Illustrators: Gold Medal (2006, 2010, 2013); Silver Medal (2007, 2008, 2013)
- Association of Illustrators: Silver Medal (2009)
- D&AD: Yellow Pencil (2006)
- Society of Publication Designers: Magazine of the Year (2006)
- American Illustration: Selected (2002-20012)
- Art Directors Club of New York: Merit (2006)
- Spectrum: Silver Award (2006, 2009)
- The Atlantic interview by Grace Bello
- Huffington Post article
- The New York Times review of P.S. 96 mural
- Newsweek Japan