Yuko Shimazu Yuko Shimazu Yuko Shimizu

Award winning Japanese illustrator based in New York City and instructor at School of Visual Arts.

My First Blackmail

Yes, I wrote my very first blackmail. No. Of course not for real! I’m not that kind of a girl.

Sean Johnston of MAXIM Magazine called me for an unusual project. Not illustration. It was already assigned to cool and talented Mr. Eddie Guy. My job here was to fill the opposite page of that illustration. Yes, to design the title page.

The story was about Japanese Yakuza. MAXIM wanted something that looked cool, noir, Japanese, and blackmail-y.

Maxim Magazine (October 2009): Spread
MAXIM November issue. My blackmail next to Eddie Guy’s illustration.To be honest, I got a bit nervous when I got the first call.  My close friends know that my secret fantasy is to become a kick ass designer and work at PentaXXXX with my hero PauXX ScXXX. But I honestly don’t know anything about typography. I think I can draw pretty much anything with a brush by now working as an illustrator for years. But hand-written type? Ummm.

But then, why am I an artist if I don’t get to experiment. So, I said: “yes. I. can.”

Maxim Magazine (October 2009): Sketch 1
The difference between illustration and calligraphy is that in illustration you work on one image for a long time in calligraphy you work quickly but may have to do as many till you get ‘the one’. (i.e.: same amount of time.)Soon, the drawing table was completely covered by a mountain of all the failed trials. And a corner of my studio became a make-shift fake-blood-factory. Hours and hours and days of working into it…, yes, I did it! And I am quite proud of my first blackmail.

Maxim Magazine (October 2009): Sketch 2
I don’t know how many I wrote… piles and piles of paper on my drawing table.
Maxim Magazine (October 2009): Bombay Red Ink
I made blood on a corner of my studio. Bombay Red ink makes good blood, in case you need to know.
Maxim Magazine (October 2009): Storyboard
Here is the quick start-to-finish process. My dad would cry if he knew I used Photoshop to make revisions, but it is all about good design, so it is OK, OK. (In Japanese calligraphy, it is a biggest no no to make any revision on the finished piece.)Big thank you to MAXIM Magazine, Dirk, Sean, Chandra and Billy, who have been supportive of my work over the years at various different magazines.