with Yuko Shimizu
Abundance, repetition, and a tinge of irony accompany a cast of humans and animals through uncanny scenarios in Japanese artist Yuko Shimizu’s illustrations. Her whimsical subjects are often playful and humorous, like a pet dog in a sweater with red stripes that matches its youthful owner’s swimming suit, the pair flanked by numerous balloons in the shape of lifebuoys. In contrast, a more grave undertone emerges in “Me Too,” a reference to the #MeToo movement, as a woman stands on a mountain of eyes and attempts to brush countless more off of her body.
Drawing inspiration from myriad sources, including Japanese culture and current events, Shimizu’s compositions are characterized by a sense of action and obscure narrative. You can follow more of her work on Instagram.
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Award-winning artist Yuko Shimizu describes her detailed illustrations in a note to Colossal as “a bit off, weird, and dreamy.” Her work, which is often centered on but not limited to Japanese culture, frequently employs primary colors and repetitive elements. In one illustration, the artist portrays a marcher wearing a red uniform and blowing into a multiple-belled instrument with blue birds and yellow flowers in the mix; another features a female figure ascending from dark, swirling waters with a mask seemingly ready to be fitted to her face.
Shimizu says her “Blow Up” series was designed originally for a show at the Society of Illustrators where the images first were exhibited stretching from floor to ceiling. One work depicts dozens of legs donning red and white striped socks that are bound together by a thick rope. It’s what Shimizu terms her illustration about “wind blowing up to form a human-storm.” In another piece, a body stands knees pointed inward with just the mouth visible in a blur of red swirls. The series is inspired by multiple definitions of the phrase “blow up.”
The artist has a background in marketing and advertising, and many of the works she produces today are commissioned for an impressive list of clients, including Apple, Microsoft, and Nike. Based in New York City, Shimizu also teaches at the School of Visual Arts. Keep up with all of her unusual imagery on Instagram.
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