How many years did it take for you to become a “successful” illustrator, and how long did it take for you to find your “style”?
Yuko: First of all, I don’t think I am successful at all yet. I am very fortunate that I am able to make my living doing illustration, be able to work with such publications as the New Yorker, Village Voice, New York times, Financial Times, etc. I still feel that I am just starting out and no one knows me yet. Maybe after I finish my fifth year and successfully kept paying all my bills and saved up some, and got respected by viewers, ADs, and peers, then I can allow myself to call it successful. Also, I don’t think I have found my style, and I don’t think I ever will, and I think that is completely fine.
What I learned toward the end of my education is that the myth of “you will eventually find your own style and you are set” is a lie, or at least, it is not the way I want it to be. Artists are artists, because we keep challenging to make ourselves grow, and our work to evolve. Some do find a set style, however for me, that is not “art” anymore. It is “craft”. The difference between art and craft is that art is ever evolving, and craft is to re-create with the skill you already achieved. We will keep growing, as we are going to be artists forever.
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Yuko graduated with MFA from Illustration as Visual Essay Program in 2003 and has been illustrating since. She also teaches a BFA Illustration course and occasionally advises MFA students at SVA. She works in a studio in Manhattan, a space she shares with two artists whom she considers as her ‘New York family’. Yuko has not gotten into mid-life crisis since she became an artist.
Whenever she has time, Yuko loves to travel to different cities and countries to lectures at art schools and events, and to meet with other artists, professors and young aspiring illustrators to get inspired.