This isn’t Hello Kitty…
Just how many hundred times Yuko Shimizu has been confused with Kitty-chan’s creator we don’t know, but even quick glance at the New York-based illustrator’s inspired work should make it plain that the two artists are worlds apart.
Already being labelled by some internet users as “Ukiyoe Rock”, Yuko Shimizu’s illustrations are evocative to say the very least. We’re pretty sure that Hello Kitty would blush her little red ribbon off if she saw some of these striking images…
Yuko’s work combines traditional Ukiyoe (lit. “floating world pictures”)-style prints and modern comic art, blending calligraphy brush strokes with computer-aided backgrounds and colouring to a truly remarkable effect.
Yowzer! That’s one lady not to mess with!
Yuko graduated from prestigious Waseda university in Tokyo before beginning a career in corporate PR. It was only 11 years later when she took the step of moving to New York that Yuko began her illustrious career as a designer. Since then, she has won countless awards and has had her work featured in Time magazine, The New Yorker and Rolling Stone to name but a few.
This week, some of Yuko’s Asian Supergirl artwork appeared on Japanese online message boards. As you might expect, the images received both a ton of praise and a myriad of curious comments, from the contemplative: “It’s like a modern Americanization of Ukiyoe. I love this!” to the shocked: “Mount Fuji! Japan’s sacred mountain!!! Between… a girl’s legs!!!”
More often than not, though, users agreed on one simple truth: “Holy crap, these are cool!”
Some of Yuko’s illustrations will no doubt raise a few eyebrows, but there again, isn’t that kind of the point of art? Challenging is a good thing, right!?
Let’s take a stroll, or, rather, a warrior-like leap through some other images by the illustrator and find out how Japan’s general public took to them:
“Panda Hero is here!!”
“Cool. Seriously cool.”
“I especially like this one. It’s full of spirit”
“Best Ukiyoe collaboration ever!”
“So when is this chick joining in the Avengers!?”
“I’d love to meet this girl…”
“The composition of these pictures is amazing. I’m sure they’ll do well in the US.”
“A new Japanese style is born.”
“It’s great to see Japanese culture spread around the world, whatever style it’s in!”
As the more eagle-eyed among you will have noticed, Yuko’s artwork isn’t exactly “Japanese”. Nor is it western. Pandas meet Fuji; electric guitars meet kimono; Chinese text and fortune cookies are backed by rays of sunlight exploding from the Japanese flag; Yuko’s work has a genuinely unique art style that’s almost impossible to pigeonhole.
And as many commenters suggest, the artist’s illustrations have seen tremendous success in the US, and have been used on everything from advertising posters to a unique range of t-shirts that we certainly wouldn’t mind getting our hands on!
Images(C): Yuko Shimizu