Behind the Project: Dreamy Swim-scapes in time for Summer

In this series, we’ll look deeper into some of the projects on Behance.net that were especially admired in our community. Yuku Shimizu is a New York based illustrator. She has won numerous awards for her work (and was named one of Newsweek Japan’s 100 Japanese People the World Respects). Her other projects include illustrations for the New York Times Book Review as well as a collection of commissioned illustrations repurposed to create “slightly demented children’s stories.” We spoke with her about her recent project, Into the Water, a collection of images focusing on swimming and the water.

What was your inspiration for this project?
This is actually a collection of illustrations I have made over the years for various clients.  Since I got an account on Behance, I’ve been thinking about how to present my work in a different context than on a personal website. What I have started doing lately is to put together different projects under a theme. The weather had gotten warmer in New York, and summer was about to start, so I decided to put together a theme of swimming and underwater.
I make a lot of images that fit this theme; I think it’s because I have severe hydrophobia. I never learned how to swim properly, and going into water deeper than my chest scares the hell out of me. But in my drawings, I can go anywhere. These are sort of my fantasy illustrations. Whenever I can use a water theme, I sneak it in!


 

I never learned how to swim properly, and going into water deeper than my chest scares the hell out of me. But in my drawings, I can go anywhere. These are sort of my fantasy illustrations.

 

 


Can you describe your process in creating this project?
Each project is completely different. They are all published work, so some of the themes were very open ended and let me do whatever I wanted, while others were more art directed. Usually the process of illustrating begins with receiving the story to illustrate. Then, I come up with some concepts and create an ink drawing based on an approved idea, and I finally finish the image with coloring on Photoshop.



Some images and projects do come easier than others, but some come harder than they should be, which can be a struggle. Easy or hard, finishing an image or a project gives me a sense of accomplishment like no other. I guess that’s why we’re artists!


Did you expect it to be as popular as it’s been on The Behance Network?
I am always very excited when a project I’ve posted gets featured; I’ve also received so many encouraging comments to continue producing work. This is a very supportive community, and I really appreciate that.

Did you go through many versions and iterations before coming up with these final pieces?
I do a neurotic number of thumbnails. For me, composition is just as important as the images or the concepts themselves. So, I do plan every little bubble in the picture. Sometimes move them around in the coloring stage till it feels right. Some images and projects do come easier than others, but some come harder than they should be, which can be a struggle. Easy or hard, finishing an image or a project gives me a sense of accomplishment like no other. I guess that’s why we’re artists!

Did anything interesting happen as a result of the success of this project?  (fans contacting you, job opportunities, blogs picking it up, etc).
This got picked up by multiple blogs and sharing sites within a day or two of being posted. I did get more phone calls for jobs since I posted, and some are new clients, but I didn’t ask them where they found me.  I am thankful for that there is an audience for my phobia turned into images. It is very humbling. Thank you.