Category Archives: Vector

Happiness Project Reflection 3: Your Imperfections are OK

banner_loresWelcome to my third installment of Happiness Project Reflection series blog post!

I want to make a quick announcement that I’m having an art show at Columbia City Bakery in Seattle during the month of July and showing/selling some of my original drawings from my 365 Day Happiness Project!  I’m having a mini reception on Thursday 7/9 from 5-7pm.  If you’re in the area, stop by and say hello 🙂

Ok back to our regular programming!

It’s refreshing for me to look back and reflect on my 365 Day Happiness Project.  When I was in a middle of it, I was focused on producing the work and not so much about the impact it was having on me or the people who followed my work.  Now that I had some time to reflect back on it, I can truly appreciate the lessons I learned.

What I wanted to accomplish the most through my daily sketch project was to go outside of my comfort zone every day.  I was never comfortable calling myself an artist when I first started sharing my drawings as an adult a few years ago.  I didn’t go to an art school.  My artistic style is very simple and child-like.  I felt like I was taking up precious space in the world filled with “real” artists whom I perceived to have a lot more talents and legitimacy.

It’s a cliche, but you’re your own worst critic.  You notice every single flaw in your work. You’re afraid people might think you’re dumb or so arrogant to think your work is worth being seen by others.

The truth is no one else cares about your work as much as you do.

Take for example your Instagram feed.  How many people do you follow?  What do you remember about your favorite artists’ posts yesterday?   Or even 5 minutes ago?  Do you keep a log of all of their flaws and mistakes?  I hope not.  Unless that’s your job.  Like the artist paid you to keep track of that sort of thing.  But I doubt it.

To you, the artist, it’s an obsession.  You don’t think it’s as good as it can be.  It’s not at your 100% level.  It would be so rude to subject your followers to such an atrocity!!!  NOOOO!!


To your followers, it is just another thing you posted.  And you’re probably among hundreds , if not thousands, of people they follow.  I’m not saying this in a negative way or saying that they don’t care.  It’s a perspective.

People value your work for different reasons.  Maybe your sense of humor matches theirs.  Maybe they love your corky style.  Maybe what you’re doing inspires them.  Whatever the reason, I guarantee you that no body is obsessed with how “perfect” your work is as much as you are.  In fact, I have a few artists I admire so very much, and in my eyes, anything and everything they do is great.  They can’t do wrong even if they tried!  Imagine someone may be feeling this way about you!


While I was working on the daily sketch project, I received consistent feedback from my followers that they can relate to my work so much and how it helped them appreciate little things in their life.  They weren’t art critics analyzing the techniques I was using or what art trainings I had.  People felt connected to my work beyond how “good” of an artist I was.  My work, including what I considered to be flaws, resonated with them.  It’s kind of like falling in love with someone: you can’t logically explain why, but you just are.

I’m a believer of lifetime learning and growth.  It’s important to be able to look at your work critically and figure out how you can improve.  You can do it on your own or ask for a constructive criticism from your fellow artists or your mentors. Yes, a total stranger may criticize your work or give you an unsolicited advice.  It probably means that  your work is triggering some reactions in them (which you do want), but they may not be the right audience for you.  You can take parts of their criticism that are valid or helpful and leave the rest.  It is perfectly fine that your work does not resonate with everyone.  Art is a very subjective and personal thing.

The world is one BIG place.  There are people out there who would be totally into the unique voice you can bring to the table.  Don’t wait until you’re absolutely completely sure your work is 100% perfect because it may never happen.  If you’re a chronic perfectionist, this video of Seanwes talking about the cure for perfectionism may help.  Ship it at 90%.  I try to remember his advice when I find myself obsessing about every single details and “flaws” in my work.

Don’t let your imaginary haters stop you from putting yourself out there!!

xoxo Yuko


Why I Want to Write Regularly


Good morning!

I’m so excited to start publishing a new blog post weekly starting today!  If you’re signed up to receive an email notification, THANK YOU, and expect to see me in your inbox every Sunday morning 🙂

So why am I making a big deal out of publishing a weekly blog post?  Well, these are a few reasons.

1. I want to get better at writing.

Like many other visual artists, I enjoy drawing or painting far more than writing about it.  Writing in a way that compels people isn’t easy.  I just don’t feel as comfortable writing creatively as I do with making something with my hands.  I’ve had this blog for about a year and a half now and only posted things sporadically and not super intentionally (except for the daily happiness project, but it was 99% visual, and not much writing was involved).  Now that my daily happiness project is over, I wanted to refocus the goals of this blog going forward.  We tend to avoid things we don’t like to do, like going to the dentist or the gym, or having a difficult conversation with someone – writing is one of those things for me.  Like everything else, you can only get better if you practice it, so I’m doing it publicly here 🙂

2. I’m holding myself accountable.

When you start doing something new – especially when it’s something you’re not super excited about, like things I mentioned above, you tend to procrastinate.  Especially when your inaction doesn’t really hurt anyone else.  If I choose sleeping in over going to the gym, who cares, right?  No, nobody really cares.  But what if you belonged to an online group where you have to report your fitness progress to your friends on a regular basis?  Sure, you could still skip going to the gym, but you may make your decisions about it differently.  I’m a pretty disciplined person, but I was definitely procrastinating starting  this weekly blog posts.  Oh, I have all these other art projects I want to work on that are much more fun, and nobody knows I want to do a regular blog post yet, so…. PAUSE.  Sometimes, in order for you to get started on something, you need to tell others that you’re doing it and by when you’re going to do it.  It sure helped me with my 365 day “happiness is” project!  I recently tried this method at my day job in starting a new career development program for employees, and it’s totally working! Win!

3. I want to help others who are in the same boat.

One of the things I know about myself is I don’t like making mistakes, especially in public. It took a lot of courage to start sharing my artwork on the internet because I never thought my art was that good, and I would’ve been so hurt if a stranger criticized my work.  Art is like a small piece of my heart and soul on paper.  But I knew I had to get over the fear if I wanted to be a working artist someday.  Doing my daily happiness post helped me a lot with getting over the fear.  Seriously, when you do something every day for a year, even facing your fear gets old 🙂  It’s not that I’m not afraid of sharing my work because I still do.  It’s more that I’m able to recognize the fear and insecurities, and they don’t keep me from going out of my comfort zone as much.  I want to use my blog to share my experiences and tips to help someone else who may be going through similar things.  I will be sharing mostly my experiences in art and creativity, but a lot of the themes will be relevant to anyone who wants to grow personally, too.

Future blog topics I can think of right now:

  • 9 Reflections on the Daily Happiness Project
  • How to Give Your 100% at Your Day Job While You Give 100% to Your Creative Dream
  • How to Find Your Unique Artistic Voice
  • Find and Work with Your Accountability Partner
  • Setting Goals and How to Document Your Progress
  • How to Find What You Need to be Successful
  • Why Self-Care is Important and What You Can Do to be Good to Yourself
  • Let’s Talk about Creative Rituals
  • Ongoing Topics – Updates on new products and works, my creative processes and tools I use, roundup of useful resources and inspirations, my life and interests etc.

I think this is a  good start.  Please let me know if you have a burning question or want to tell me what you’re struggling with right now so I may incorporate them in my blog 🙂

I decided to do weekly blog because it feels frequent enough so you don’t forget about me completely 🙂 and comfortable enough pace for me to commit to. I chose Sundays because I read somewhere that people tend to have more time and energy to read things that come in to your inbox on a Sunday.  I also thrive in a more structured environment, so having a regular commitment is better for me anyway.

I’m so grateful you will be on the receiving end of my weekly blog.  You have been a really supportive community for me, and I hope I can give you something valuable in return!

Speaking of value, I want to share a couple of inspirations that motivated me to focus on writing this year.  Hope you find them helpful too!

1. Seanwes podcast: I’m sure I will be referring to this podcast from time to time in my future blog.  But this show really changed my life and my mindset about being a creative entrepreneur.  A really high quality podcast packed full of tangible tips!  Can’t say enough good things! They talk about the importance of writing in this episode and this one.

2. Laura Belgray: Laura is a very successful copywriter and a funny lady.  I love how honest and practical her advice is.  You can download her “5 Secrets to Non-Sucky Copy” on her homepage for free!  I’m subscribed to her e-newsletter, and it’s full of gems as well.

Have a wonderful week 🙂  Talk to you soon!

xoxo  Yuko


Holiday Giveaway :: Pretty Desktop Wallpaper

Hello friends!

Camellia, Mixed Media
Camellia, Mixed Media

When this post goes out, I will be in Wisconsin spending time with my in-laws!  I’m not going to be posting my daily “Happiness is” drawings for a week because there is no internet (!) and the cell reception is really bad in the house we’re staying.  But I have pre-scheduled a couple of posts to hold you over!

Today I wanted to tell you how grateful I am to all of you who have been following and supporting my work!  It is hard to believe it’s been over 8 months since I started my daily drawing project about happiness!  Practice of noticing and acknowledging something that makes me happy every day has been really great, not to mention practicing art every day.  I also really enjoy hearing from you and knowing that my little happiness drawings are relatable to many of you 🙂

As a small gesture of my gratitude for your support, I’ve created a pretty desktop wallpaper with simple botanical motif!  Download my free desktop wallpaper here!

Ok, if you celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas to you!  I will be eating lots of food and hopefully playing in the snow!!

I will post another vacation post on Sunday 12/28.  Take care until then!



Real Food Tattoo Art

I love drawing vegetables, fruits, and animals.  I have a garden and love to eat fresh, local foods!  So I was thrilled when Kristy Gardner (who has an awesome food blog called She Eats) contacted me to create a custom art  for her new tattoo!!

First of all, it is such an honor to be asked to create an art that will be put on someone’s body forever (gasp).  Second of all, it is very exciting when I get to create something for someone who is passionate about something I’m also into.  AND, I mean, just look at things she cooks with wholesome, real ingredients…  mmmmmm!!!

Kristy trusted me to create an art that would be fun and vibrant and reflects her love and passion for real food.  Based on our conversation, I sketched some ideas and went to town!

food tattoo sketches
veggies, fruits, and pigs!

Initially, it was going to cover her upper arm, but when I turned in my final version of the first art work, she asked me if I could add some more elements to make it a full sleeve tattoo.  So I did.

Here is the final art I sent on to Kristy!

An arm full of colorful things to grow, eat, and drink!

It is always a bit scary to create an art work for someone.  What if they don’t like it?  What if they think it sucks???  After I sent my work to Kristy, I waited with heightened anxiety and prepared some responses in my head in case she was not happy with it.

It turns out reality is almost always better than what my vivid imagination would lead me to believe (oh the burden of having a creative mind!).  Kristy was very happy with what I’d created and gave me an awesome review.

Here is what she said:

“Yuko’s talents are an absolute gift! I commissioned Yuko to design a “real food” full length arm tattoo for me and she came up with exactly what I had envisioned. Bright, colourful and so creative – I couldn’t have possibly found another artist who could capture the beauty and simplicity of what I was looking for. The lines were clean, colours vibrant and her communication was thorough and clear. I very much enjoyed working with Yuko and I’ll definitely be hiring her again in the future and recommending her to peers. Thank you so much Yuko – you are amazing! ”

WOW.  I mean, it is SO rewarding to know that I’m appreciated for something I love and enjoy and worked really hard to create.  I also love that I get to meet and work with really cool people like Kristy!

Life is good 🙂





New Postcard Designs!

I’m really excited to be going to the ICON Illustration Conference in Portland, OR in 10 days! This is my very first professional illustration conference, and I’m SO looking forward to all the inspirations this conference will for sure bring.

This weekend, I worked on creating new postcards to bring to the conference.  It will serve as my business card/my portfolio pieces.

front of the postcard
back of the postcard

Hope to meet lots of cool artists at the conference!!


Fig Pattern!

Fig_PatternI’m learning how to make repeat patterns with my illustration.  Here is my first!  🙂


I’ve looked at these tutorials.  They’re very helpful!

How to Make a Repeat Pattern in Illustrator

Create Your Own Pattern Swatch: An Easy 5-Step Illustrator Tutorial




Get Inspired: 365 Day Challenge!

I just watched a video of one of my favorite artists/illustrators, Lisa Congdon‘s talk “Embrace the Abyss”  where she talks about vulnerabilities of creativity.  One of the things she talked about was challenging herself to go outside of her comfort zone every day and pushing herself to be better at her crafts.  One example of that is her 365 days of hand lettering.  Amazing!

私が大好きなアーティスト、リサ・コングドンさんのビデオ、「Embrace the Abyss」をさっき見ました。彼女は自分のアーティストとしての不安や弱気に感じることなどを語り、その不安を乗り越えるためには日々、自分自身に課題を与えてチャレンジし続けている、と言っていました。

WOW, I’m so inspired!  I’ve decided that I’m going to also embrace my creative vulnerabilities and share a drawing journal about happiness every day for the next 365 days!





Logo Design for the Daver

Our last assignment for the Illustration Communication class was to design logos for ourselves!


Since I already have my logo, I decided to design a logo for my husband Dave, a.k.a. the Daver.


He is a Permaculture designer/educator/author and currently runs a company called Terra Phoenix Design.  I choose to do a branding and logo design for him as an individual because…why not?


Because this is for him as an individual rather than his company, I designed a logo that reflected his friendliness and approachability.


Here are my three concepts!  こちらが3つのデザインです!

The Portrait!
The Name!
The Acorn!

My favorite is definitely the portrait.  He has such a cute smile 🙂  I modified the portrait and made his facebook profile picture!  It is a lot warmer and shows his personality well, I think.


The Profile Pic!





Bumbershoot T-Shirt Illustration!

My assignment for the Illustration Communication class this week was to create an illustration for Bumbershoot event T-shirt!  Bumbershoot is a festival of music and art that happens over the labor day weekend in Seattle.  Their event posters are amazing, by the way.


I combined my love of drawing animals and music.  Here is my pink raccoon Bumbershoot illustration 🙂


pink raccoon
Pink Raccoon Bumbershoot!

And here is the mock-up for a T-shirt.


Pink Raccoon T-Shirt Mock-Up!

I would totally wear it!