All posts by Yuko

About Yuko

Hi! I'm Yuko! I'm the illustrator/artist at Honeyberry Studios. I live and work out of my home studio in Seattle, Washington. I like to create art that is joyful, happy, and accessible. I get my inspiration from everyday small things, nature, animals, and food.

On handling rejections

I had kind of a bad day on Wednesday.

I received, not one, but TWO rejection emails from the holiday craft shows I applied for.

They’re kind of big, well-known shows (read: most lucrative) in the area that I really, really wanted to get into (and thought I had a good chance.)

Needless to say, I was disappointed and sad.

My emotional process looked like this 👇

1) DISBELIEF: First of all, I thought the notice wasn’t gonna be sent out till Friday?? Was this a mistake? Is this really happening?

2) FANTASY: Some of my friends didn’t make the cut either. And they’re all talented, amazing makers. Did the organizers make a mistake and send the wrong email to the wrong group of people?? I’m still waiting to get that “sorry-we-sent-the-wrong-email-and-you’re-actually-in” email.

3) CONFUSION: But people love my work! and I’ve been great to work with, haven’t I?? I’m so organized and responsive. WHY DID YOU NOT WANT ME?? 😭

4) NEGATIVE SPIRAL: Is this it for me? What if I don’t get in to ANY of the shows I applied for? Was it just a luck that my business seemed more successful this year? Is it all going to be down hill from here??

5) LOGIC: People DO love my work (and they tell me so!), and I’ve had great relationships with the organizers. It’s not personal. I have other opportunities and will most likely get into other shows.

6) ACCEPTANCE: Oh well. It is just what it is 🤷🏻‍♀️ The show must go on. What’s on my to-do list today?

I know intellectually it’s not me or that my work is bad, but it just hurts to be rejected.

I have my “You Are Enough” sticker on my laptop, and it helped 💙

As a self-care strategy, I re-watched the puppy and horse Budweiser commercial from 2014 Super Bowl and had a good cry. It’s truly soul-cleansing ✨

(I question your humanity if this bit doesn’t make you even a little emotional…🐶)

I treated myself for a delicious brownie and pretty dahlias at the farmer’s market.

I also received a copy of Retailing Insight Magazine in the afternoon, where one of my designs was featured (along with my friend, John Met Betty‘s beautiful vegan handbags!) That helped boost my confidence for sure 😊

I don’t have a profound lesson or insight for you today.

But I just wanted to share that things aren’t always great and positive.

I’ve been noticing a trend on social media where people share hard and messy stuff in life. And even without the “things-went-to-hell-but-I’m-all-better-now” hero ending sometimes, which makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

It makes me sad to see people I admire and care about struggle, but I also appreciate their realness.

It helps me feel OK with having those ups and downs in my life, too.

Even though most of the posts on social media are curated and positive, it never tells a whole story.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re having a hard time or feeling rejected, you’re not alone.

Nobody has it all together.

We’re enough ❤️

xo

p.s. I’m feeling a lot better after processing the feelings with friends and doing all those self-care stuff. So don’t worry!

p.p.s. I’ve got a few holiday events locked down and am waiting to hear back from a bunch more, so it’s going to be OK. I’ll let you know when I have a more solid calendar!

p.p.p.s. I’m gonna be on my 7th week mini sabbatical next week – I’ve been chipping away at my new website so I can launch it very soon. Send me good tech vibes and stay tuned 😉

Join me in the “Thinking of You Week” challenge! 💌

Last week, my mom sent me a picture of a postcard that was sent to me from my high school Japanese literature teacher.

Mr. Eto was a really cool teacher – he was my homeroom teacher for two years and was also in charge of the drama club I was a part of.

(And as you can tell, a very skilled block print maker.)

He was funny and always treated us like we were responsible, intelligent people. He was one of the most influential adults I had in my teenage years.

On the back of the card, he wrote to say he retired last year and that they’ve got 6 grandkids now.

I felt so touched that I was still on his “thinking of you” list after 22 years.

I used to send him New Year’s greeting cards when I first moved here but can’t remember when the last time I wrote him was…😢

So it was a perfect timing when I received this message from Thinking of You Week via Instagram:

“We’re working with The Greeting Card Association to promote Thinking of You Week, an international movement that encourages everyone to send a card every day for one week. We’d love it if you could help spread the message by asking your followers to send a card a day from September 24-30.”

I get requests to promote things to my followers occasionally and only follow through when the cause resonates with me and I believe it benefits you, too.

For someone who creates and sells greeting cards for a living, I don’t send out hand-written note enough!!!

When I got the postcard from Mr. Eto, I knew I wanted to send him a card and tell him what’s been going on in my life.

I wanted to tell him that I got married to a sweet loving man, I quit my job 3 years ago, and now I’m a full-time artist.

I know he’d be delighted to hear from me and would be so proud of my accomplishments 💕

The invitation to promote this challenge inspired me to join in the movement, too.

I’ll be sending a greeting card to my friends (including Mr. Eto) every day between September 24 and 30!

I already thought of a few more people I want to say hello to via a card and am getting super excited to figure out which cards to send them 😍

Do you want to tell someone that they’re on your “thinking of you” list??

I’d love it if you join me in this challenge!!

Thinking of You Week has been promoting giveaways on their Instagram, and I’ve created a special “Mystery 7 Cards for $7” pack in my Etsy shop to make it easier for you to participate 😘

Go check them out!

I’d love to hear from you if you decide to do the challenge. Leave a comment and let me know.

Happy writing, my friend!

xo

p.s. in case you missed the links, you can check out the giveaways on Thinking of You Instagram here and the special mystery pack in my shop here.

Fall & Winter collection sneak preview (pt. 3 of 3) + vacation pics!

Dave and I got back from our mini road trip on Monday night.

We picked up our new (to us) car in Phoenix, Arizona and drove all the way through California, Oregon, and Washington over 5 days.

Here is Bruce (the car)! We drove 1500 miles including some mountains, and he did really well.

We stopped at Joshua Tree National Park – well, we didn’t plan it very well and ended up just exploring the lower part, but the landscape was out of this world. I felt like I was on the moon or mars! (I don’t know my planets very well 😬🌕)

We stopped at Redwood National Park as well. This tree had been hollowed out by the lightening and fire but the outside of it still stands tall and strong. Amazing!

We took a 90-minute tour at the Oregon Caves National Monument. Natural formation of the minerals over marble was truly breathtaking. If you go there, I highly recommend this tour!

On our last day, we visited Mt. St. Helens National Monument in Washington. It’s kind of hard to see in this picture, but the whole north side of the mountain had been blown away when the volcano erupted in 1980. We read several stories of the people who were near when the eruption happened. Many lives were lost and so many more were changed forever. So powerful.

We didn’t have whole a lot of time on this trip as we were trying to get back home in a timely manner, but we still enjoyed our adventure very much.

I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things and am super excited to share more previews form the new collection with you today

(Psst, in case you missed the previous previews, you can see them here and here.)

You know I care about self-care.

I used to work with people in domestic violence situations for 14+ years and found self-care to be the most important thing in their (and service providers’ ) healing.

Winter holiday season brings cheer and joy to many of us. But it can also be stressful and bring sadness and painful memories.

If you have a friend who needs a little encouragement to take care of themselves during the holiday season, this holiday self-care card would be a perfect a reminder 💕

It feels silly sometimes that we need external permissions to do something like self-care.

But I often need a permission to do or not do something and ask Dave to tell me it’s OK, like saying no to a business opportunity or a project, and he’d just repeat back to me word by word what I said and I say “OK” 😀

It’s silly, but it helps…

Speaking of self-care, I’ve also created a sister design to my popular “Self-Care is not Selfish” design.

It’ll be available as 8″x10″ (20.32 cm x 25.40 cm) archival giclee art print and a blank notecard 👇

Again, if someone you care about is going through a hard time or just not feeling like they’re doing “enough,” let them know they’re doing the best they can ❤️

(BTW, I’ve fallen in love with this soft pink color recently, and you will see more of it in my future collections!)

Before we move on to my next preview, I need to confess.

I was planning on creating 2019 calendars with self-care themed art and sayings, including the design above.

But creating 12 new cohesive and amazing art is no easy feat, and after considering the costs and timeline, I decided not to create a monthly wall calendar for 2019 😢

My goal is to create a stunning monthly calendar for 2020 and give myself plenty of time to do so – my apologies if you’ve gotten my previous wall calendars and have been waiting for the new one! I promise it’ll be worth the wait.

I still wanted to create a calendar that will bring you joy all year long, so I created this fun Llama Dream 2019 calendar poster instead!

It’s printed on 11″x14″ (27.94 cm x 35.56 cm) cotton paper, and has a very yummy texture.

That llama face, tho 😍

Sure, the yearly calendar may seem more decorative than practical, but it’s good for keeping track of things that happen monthly (like your period, that’s what I use my annual calendar poster for), quarterly, and/or annually.

I’d like to think of it as a wall art that happens to tell you the dates.

(Plus it’s printed digitally, so the price is more affordable than my archival prints.)

I created the calendar in a simple and neutral color palette (navy and warm yellow, my fave color convo!) so it’d look great in a kid’s room or your office all year long.

You like??

My new collection will debut in the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye out for the announcement! 👀

(Are you on my email list? Sign up, because I like to spoil my subscribers when I launch new products 😉)

Have a joyful day!

xo

p.s. Oh, and if you’re in the US, have a happy Labor Day! I’ll be at Fremont Sunday Market today 9/2, 10-4 if you’re in Seattle.

Fall & Winter Collection sneak preview 🐱🐷🐶 (Pt. 2 of 3)

Did you enjoy the sneak preview of my new collection last week?

Today I’m back with more cuteness to delight you!

Let me show you some of my new winter holiday designs.

Meet the Winter Kitties 🐱

I love all animals, but I’m more of a cat person if you ask me.

Last year when I made my doggie design, A LOT of my customers asked “where are the CATS??”

So I designed these adorable winter holiday kitties just for you ❄️

Also available as wrapping papers (how can you not??)

And notepads! Wouldn’t you love to organize your holiday to-dos on this cutie? You can, very soon 😻

The next up is 2019 Year of the Boar card!

New Year’s holiday is a BIG deal in Japan and many other cultures, so I’ve designed cute animal zodiac cards for the last 4 years.

2019 is the Year of the Boar, and these happy, party boars bring me SO much joy 😆

And I updated the Doggies in Sweater design from last year (it was for the Year of the Dog design for this year).

Now it’s a plain doggie design without any texts 🐶 so it’s appropriate for Christmas or any other occasions!

Don’t forget – doggie wrapping papers are already in the shop!

And here is my new Hanukkah card design 🍽

I love learning about foods in culture and the meaning behind them – I really enjoyed researching about foods for Hanukkah for this design! 😋

(and it made me hungry!!)

Well, did you enjoy the previews​?

There is a lot more where they came from, and I can’t wait to share more next week 😘

xo

p.s. My new collection won’t be available online till early September, but you can shop the existing cuteness (and they’re equally cute 💕) today.

Fall & Winter Collection Sneak Preview 👀 (Pt. 1 of 3)

If you’re following me on Instagram and seeing my Stories, you may know that I’ve been working on my new online shop.

What prompted me to move my shop from Etsy was that Etsy Wholesale closed at the end of June, and I needed a new platform to sell my products to retailers online.

I was originally planning on moving only my wholesale shop to elsewhere and keep the regular Etsy shop. But after talking to a few people, I decided it makes the most sense to have both shops on one website.

I’ve been wanting to have my own online shop for quite some time, so it was the kick in the pants I needed to actually make it happen! 

So I’ve been chipping away at it for the last couple of month as I juggle my full summer show schedule  – I have lots of products to transfer (150+ if you include all the variants) and it’s a slow process. I swear​ everything takes 3 times longer than I expect. And my deadline has been extended at least twice now 😬

I’m hoping it’ll be done in time to launch my new collection in early September. 

It’s gonna be a lot easier to shop in my new shop than Etsy – no pesky coupon codes, and I want to reward your loyalty even more in the new shop, so stay tuned!!

In a meantime, I wanted to share some sneak previews for my fall & winter collection to get you excited.

Be warned, it’s full of cuteness ✨

Of course I’ve seen my new collection so many times, but my heart still skips a beat when I see it (or maybe I have some kind of heart condition. Hope not.)

I’ve got several new everyday cards and am especially in love with this “Have a Wild Birthday” card 😍

Sometimes my customers ask for more gender-neutral birthday card, so this was my attempt at it 😀

Ok, and I’m super excited about this next one, too!

“Foods of the Pacific Northwest” design’s got all the delicious gifts this lovely region has to offer.

You know I love food. I’m so very grateful to call the beautiful PNW my home – the foods here are just SO good!

And this design will also be available as 8″x10″ and 11″x14″ archival giclee art print.

How cute would it be for your kitchen or dining room?? 😍

And I wanna end today’s post with a new llama design!!

And they come in many gift-able forms 😍

I’ve been more intentional about embracing the joy in my design lately.

​Believe it or not, I didn’t always feel that “cute” art was a “real” art.

Many of you know that I didn’t go to an art school or have an art degree. And it’s been a source of my insecurity for a long time.

But, I’ve been finding that the more I embrace the cuteness of my work unapologetically, the more it resonates with you.

​And, not only that, it just makes me so darn happy when I create stuff that are so stinking adorable 😆

​So stay tuned for more cuteness as I share previews for the next couple of weeks!

xo


p.s. No need to wait for the new collection if you wanna shop the existing cuteness in my current shop or in person in a meantime 😉

Mini sabbatical report – making art the old school way

I took my mini sabbatical week the last week of July.

I’ve been taking every 7th week off since October 2015 to rest and recharge.

(This brilliant idea was created by Seanwes, one of my biz heroes.)

I swear having to turn off my hustle switch regularly is the biggest reason why I haven’t burnt out yet.

And burnout is the worst thing that can happen to you when you’re pursuing your passion (for a living or for fun.)

I often get asked what I actually do during my sabbaticals.

Short answer is, you can do whatever you want to recharge your energy!

For me, It’s a time to relax and do things I don’t normally get to do.

I might work on personal projects, read more, or focus on a big picture visioning for my business.

One rule I’ve set for myself is I don’t do any work for other people during sabbaticals.

This is not super relevant now as I don’t do custom or commission work any more.

But, I wouldn’t schedule my video making for Sakura of America during sabbaticals, for example.

See, that’s the beauty of having a regular time off – you can actually schedule things around it way in advance!

(I have every 7th week blocked off on my Google calendar. Forever.)

Anyway, I did some fun things like getting a facial, going to Fremont art walk, and taking myself out on a solo lunch and shopping date.

{Fish tacos at Poquitos, Capitol Hill. Yum!}

I also enjoyed making art the “old school” way.

a.k.a. making art without tech 😀

Here are some of the highlights!

1. Pottery class

I’m in my pottery class at South Seattle College every Tuesday whether I’m on a sabbatical or not.

It definitely felt more relaxing, though, when I didn’t have to mentally track what I needed to do afterwards.

I glazed these cuties last week.

Tuxedo kitties were very popular last time and sold out pretty quickly, so I made more!

(Go check it out today if you want them. There are only a few left at the time of writing this post.)

2. Watercolor painting

I’ve been drawing on my iPad Pro almost exclusively since I got it last Christmas.

I love how quick I can make and process art digitally, and my most favorite function of all, “undo.”

It’s been very exciting to learn a new way to create art, and I’ve been immersed in it for the last 7 months.

Lately, though, I’ve been missing drawing and painting on paper more and more.

So I played with watercolor and gouache (an opaque watercolor) and made a fun flower drawing.

There is just nothing like drawing and seeing the paint do its thing on paper.

Seeing the luminance of the paint and brush strokes made me so happy!

While I still love drawing on my iPad, I’ll be painting and drawing on paper more in the coming months.

3. Block Printing

I used to do a lot more block printing.

But since I stopped making block printed things to sell (got burnt out) and have been focusing more on teaching, I haven’t been block printing as consistently.

I saw a couple of my friends make beautiful block printed work on Instagram and got inspired, so I worked on a small piece on Sunday afternoon.

I created a design based on the flower watercolor drawing I made.

The whole process probably took me about 2.5 hours from sketching the idea to finish printing.

I really liked the end results a lot. I wanna make more of these small prints!

During my last sabbatical, I had a two-day festival at the end of the week. This time, I decided I wasn’t gonna do any fairs and just enjoy the entire week off.

It usually takes me a few days to come down from the hustle mode and get into a resting mode, so having the entire week and weekend off was great.

Oh, and Dave had just come home from a 2.5 week out-of-town work stint, so it was double awesome to get to spend some time with him, too!

My energy reservoir is full again, and I’m feeling more centered and grounded.

I’m ready to tackle the second half of my summer, my friend!

Don’t forget to do something to recharge your energy today 😘

xo

Artist Manifesto from 3 years ago

I wasn’t gonna publish a new post today because I’ve been taking this week off to rest and recharge.

I still took a time off and enjoyed it throughly, but I posted this on Instagram on Just 31st, which is my 3-year full-time artist anniversary and got so many encouraging responses.

So I thought you may enjoy it, too.

(Copying and pasting doesn’t count as work, does it? 😉)

***

3 years ago today, I left my 14+ year career in the non-profit domestic violence work to grow Honeyberry Studios full-time. I’d been working on my art biz for a few years on the side but I really wanted to give my 100% to my creative endeavor to see where it can go. So I took a week off from work, and Dave and I sat down to crunch some numbers and decided his income alone could support us for a foreseeable future. That following Monday, I gave my notice.

A day after I left the office for the last time, I went on a solo retreat at my friend’s studio on Whidbey Island. I sat there alone to really think about my intentions for the next chapter in my life. I ended up creating this manifesto during my solo retreat as a visual reminder of why I do what I do and how I’d like to act in my business.

3 years later, my business is finally feeling like a real business, not an expensive hobby 😀 Though I have many moments of self doubt and insecurities, I’m super grateful that I get to do what makes me so incredibly happy for a living and sharing what makes me happy brings you joy ✨ Everybody wins in this scenario 😉

Most of my intentions I set in the beginning still hold true (except for making art everyday – I don’t. But I don’t beat myself up about it any more 😜)

Thank you for your support and encouragement so far – without you, my loyal fans and amazing retail partners, I would not be here writing this message today. Running a profitable small business is not easy. I’m so grateful for you. I’m only just getting started and can’t wait to bring you more joyful creations for many years to come✨

***

Have a beautiful day!

xo

Just because…

Hey friend,

I was gonna write about my reflections for the past 3 years today (July 31st is my 3-year freedom anniversary a.k.a. the day I quit my regular job) but didn’t finish it 🤷🏻‍♀️

It’s been very hectic juggling fairs & markets every weekend, working on moving my online shop to a different platform (Shopify if you’re curious), and just managing life without a working car (it broke down, in a process of buying another car) and a helping hand of my husband (he’s been out of town for work the last 2 weeks).

So, I thought I’d just show you a happy art to make you smile 😊

Do you love llama? I thought so 😊​ This is one of my new designs that are going to be available soon.

Hope you’re having a nice Sunday!

xo

p.s. I’ll be taking a week off for my mini sabbatical this coming week. I may or may not post a new article next Sunday. If not, I’ll talk to you in a couple of weeks 😘

Fall Block Print Workshop Registration is Open!

I’ve got a great news for you!

Registration for my Fall Introduction to Block Printing on Fabric workshop is now OPEN!

I’m so excited to be offering this workshop in two locations: IGIMO Seattle on Saturday 9/29 and Redmond on Sunday 9/30, from 1:30-6pm.

If crossing the bridge has stopped you from coming to the Seattle workshop in the past, come join me in Redmond 😉

Workshop size is kept small so I can pay individual attention to my students, and I’m offering an early bird rate ($125) until August 16th.

After that, the rate goes up to $135 per person.

(Hot tip 💡: you can also sign up with a friend and get a “buddy” rate!)

Learn more and register on my website here.

If you love learning new crafts in a supportive, casual environment, this workshop is for you! 😊

xo

p.s. I plan on offering an open studio time to my students sometime before the winter holiday season so you can work on your handmade gifts. However, I may not offer another workshop until next year. FYI!

NEW Archival Canvas Prints in Shop!

It’s full-on summer mode here in Seattle.

That means blue skies, sunshine, and beautiful flowers everywhere.

Ok, this photo was not exactly taken in Seattle – we went to Orcas Island last weekend for a short visit.

We stayed at Bullock’s Permaculture Homestead, where Dave used to live for 7 years when we were first dating.

Such a magical place Orcas is… If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend you make a trip up there! It’s not that far from Seattle (about 2.5 hrs one way, including the ferry ride) but feels so far away from everything.

Plants and nature have been a big part of my creative inspiration.

Especially flowers, I can’t get enough of them!

I’m often daydreaming of converting our veggie gardens into flower gardens (don’t tell Dave!!)

So it is no wonder why I created 2018 calendars full of flowers and uplifting messages.

Though the calendars are long sold out, I turned 6 of my illustrations into 8″x8″ archival canvas prints for an art show I’m having at Tin Umbrella Coffee in South Seattle right now!

First of all, if you live in/hear Seattle, go visit this cute coffee shop this month and enjoy the artwork in person!

Plus, their coffee is amazing.

These canvas prints turned out SO nice.

The colors are so crisp and vibrant. And the canvas texture is oh so yummy.


It’s scratch and smudge resistant, so you don’t have to be super precious around it, which may be a plus if you have little ones around 😉

It’s got a metal piece on the back for easy hanging, too.

Since many of you live far away, I wanted to invite you to the show virtually and make them available for purchase online, too!

You can now enjoy the gallery and shop your favorite canvas art here

(** Please note that since I only have one of each prints, the artwork you purchase won’t be available to ship until the show is over at the end of July.)

Oh, and if you live in the US, shipping is FREE! Isn’t it exciting?

I hope you get to check out my work in person if you’re in the area, or online if you don’t live nearby 😊

Enjoy!

xo

p.s. in case you missed the link, you can shop my new canvas prints here.