Yuko Shimizu is an award-winning Japanese illustrator based in New York. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, TIME, and Newsweek, as well as on the covers of DC Comics, Penguin, Abrams and Random House books, on the Gap and Nike T-shirts, and on Pepsi cans.

Her monograph “Living with Yuko Shimizu” will be published this spring. “A Wild Swan,” her collaboration with Pulitzer-winning author Michael Cunningham, debuted in 2015. Newsweek Japan chose her as on of “100 Japanese People World Respects” in 2009.

On big early career decisions

In this 99U video, Shimizu says our biggest decision needs to happen at the beginning of our career, asking ourselves: “What kind of artist do [we] want to be?” and having a clear picture of what that looks like.

Shimizu gives insights from her own personal story of being fired just days before her 99U appearance, gives advice on learning to say no, her thoughts on personal work, and tying it all back to the reality that while we might not win every job or shine on every project, sometimes we can recommend someone who will.

“I asked myself ‘do I want money or respect?,” says Shimizu. “And I decided at some point that I might not become the richest illustrator working today – and I am not. There are so many other people who make a lot more money. But I want to be someone who isn’t respected just for that.”

As an artist, Shimizu opted for respect and the control that comes with it. Because she is not as focused on being the richest illustrator, she is able to have more artistic freedom.

View the full video here:

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