Illustrator Yuko Shimizu on Visual Vocabulary

SVA New York subway poster series, Yuko Shimizu

“ I believe many of you who are reading my blog are aspiring illustrators. If you are, here is something you may want to remember, or to work on, if your art school instructors haven’t taught you already: we have to be remembered by something we are good at, so when a prospective client sees a topic that needs to be illustrated, they know who to call.

The most obvious themes prospective clients think of in connection with my work are Japanese or Chinese themes. I am Japanese, but I had also studied Cantonese for three years, and I have strong interest in Chinese culture. And people somehow see that in my work. There are other themes, like sexy girls, action and sports, comic-book look, snow, and water and underwater themes.”

This short excerpt from Yuko Shimizu’s blog post considers the importance of developing a unique visual vocabulary. After reading this article, consider how you can use your sketchbook as a tool to developing your own visual vocabulary.

Check out her working process too! Here is a STEP BY STEP guide!

Be sure you consider your personal interests and how they relate to ASSIGNMENT ONE. Remember, the things you draw here in your sketchbook can be same things you are studying for your first assignment.

  • What kind of things are you interested in drawing?
  • What visuals might become important visual signatures for you?
  • Write a few sentences considering these things.

Fill 3 pages in your sketchbook with things you are interested in drawing and that could be part of your unique visual signature.

Post when complete:



Sketchbook Week 2: Visual Vocabulary, Write post and upload sketchbook pages.

Choose CATEGORY (bottom right side): Sketchbook, Week 2