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KDY 2016: Celeb illustrator Yuko's 10 ways to stay ahead of the curve

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JAIPUR: Finding the right balance between passion for art and client expectation has been a perpetual struggle in the design and illustration industry. Artists and illustrators often hesitate to aim big due to lack of exposure or self doubts to perform in the market. But not Yuko  Shimizu.

A celebrated illustrator, Shimizu is well aware of all these aspects having been there and done that. Thus, while addressing the young creative minds at Kyoorius Designyatra 2016, she did away with the ‘this is my work’- type of presentation. Instead, she shared ten tenets that she learned from her own experiences, which could help young illustrators meet international standards.

Her answer to the theme, ‘Why Am I Here’, was ‘to influence at least one person to chase his/her passion as an illustrator.’ Enumerated here are her 10 gems:

1.       Take at least one small risk everyday: Warning illustrators from being complacent and taking the comfortable route of sticking to the tried and tested style, Shimizu encourages them to try one new thing each day to keep the work refreshing.  Don’t overdo it by making a sudden drastic change in how you work because that may upset your work flow. An inch at a time is good enough.

2.      Clients love photography way more than illustrations: It’s a reality and Shimizu’s advice is to admit it and then deal with it. How? Come up with ideas that cannot be replicated in a photograph. Unlike a photograph, the only thing holding back an illustration is the artist’s imagination.

3.     Have high ambitions, work harder for it: Shimizu isn’t an advocate for mediocrity. She believes there is no harm in dreaming big, provided one has the diligence to back it.

4.     Learn to say no: Don’t take a project that will take your sleep away, and I don’t mean all nighters, Shimizu says, adding that every illustrator stands for something, and shouldn’t compromise with what they strongly feel about despite monetary considerations. It is okay to say no. Shimizu, however, understands that sometimes artists have to take hard calls to pay their bills and work for what they love.

5.     It is okay to turn down a job: Resonating what she mentioned before, Shimizu opines that turning down a client for the lack of time or otherwise shouldn’t trouble an illustrator as there is always another artist to take up that job.

6.     Help others, especially new comers: Shimizu strongly believes that for the illustrator community to function and thrive, everyone has to be supportive of each other. “If there is a work you cannot commit to, don’t hesitate to recommend others. And those who have made a name for themselves can look out for the new emerging illustrators by references,” she advises.

7.     A project isn’t successful until the client thinks so: Shimizu asks young professionals to bear in mind that their personal verdict on a piece of work isn’t valid  as ultimately it should satisfy the client whose ideas they need to bring to life through art.

8.     Once you commit, give your 100 per cent to finish the task: While Shimizu gives enough leeway to illustrators to back away from a project, once someone commits to an assignment, there is no turning back. No matter how complicated the process is, delivering work on time should be the artist’s prerogative.

9.     Some things are more important than money: Shimizu encourages working for non-for-profit organisations because sometimes it adds more value to one’s work than what a client may pay. What’s more, when there is no money involved, illustrators can give their creativity a free run.

10.   Put your anger to work: Working as an artist can be a gruelling and complicated experience. There is enough reason to get angry or feeling strongly about something. “If bitching to your friends and family doesn’t help you get over an issue, channelize it to your work,” she advises.

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