Yuko Shimizu’s Film Posters

The Japanese illustrator creates silkscreen film posters that are reminiscent of those used in cinema until the 1970s.


WordsClémence Leleu

© Yuko Shimizu - “Godzilla Criterion Collection”

Yuko Shimizu immediately sets straight any slightly inattentive visitors who might have confused her with her namesake on her website: no, she is not the creator of the famous kawaii cat Hello Kitty. Once this clarification has been made, visitors can view the many and varied collaborations in which the New York-based Japanese illustrator has been involved, from advertisements for Apple to collaborations with Nike, via her forays into the American press and the famous publications The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Wired. Yuko Shimizu is also known for her work with the film industry as she has also been creating film posters for some time, mainly silkscreen prints.

Yuko Shimizu was born in Tokyo. She left Japan for the United States at the age of 11 with her family, and they lived there for four years before returning to Japan. She was drawn to the arts but studied advertising and marketing at Waseda University, before embarking on a career in public relations. This career became somewhat of a struggle for her and, in 1999, she decided to quit her job and head to New York to study fine arts and particularly illustration at the School of Visual Arts, where she now teaches. 


An analytical creative process

‘Film posters are a new genre that offers illustrators a great deal of opportunities’, the artist explains in an interview with Pen. ‘A few decades ago, they were lavishly illustrated, before this gradually waned. The resurgence of illustrated posters is relatively recent’, she continues. 

In crude, coloured lines, Yuko Shimizu depicts Godzilla, Jumanji, Batman, and Pierrot le Fou for film studios or small businesses that publish limited-edition versions of official posters. The artist willingly describes her creative process as analytical: ‘all my ideas come from my research. Of course, I watch the film I’m illustrating, but I supplement this with research on the subject, the historical period, and context’, Yuko Shimizu explains. ‘As a visual artist, it is also important to select a few visually stimulating scenes before starting to draw.’

In 2018, the artist received the Hamilton King Award, considered the most prestigious prize in illustration.


Yuko Shimizu’s work can be found on her website.

© Yuko Shimizu - 'Mutant Ninja Turtles'

© Yuko Shimizu - 'Batman Returns 2'

© Yuko Shimizu - 'Pierrot Le Fou'

© Yuko Shimizu - 'Jumanji'

© Yuko Shimizu - 'Lost Girls and Love Hotels'

© Yuko Shimizu - 'Festival du court métrage de Clermont Ferrand 2021'

© Yuko Shimizu - 'Le Mépris'