A Glimpse Into the Creative Mind of Southbay Illustrator Yuiko Sugino

Urban opus.

Here, Yuiko expounds on “Shadows,” a drawing she did for the cover of a recent single by indie musician Reeya Banerjee.

The song “Shadows” is an empowering personal anthem about looking beyond the past and moving forward. The figure in the image is Reeya, and the setting—with the Chrysler building in the skyline—is an homage to her home state of New York. I fictionalized the spot to allow for open-endedness and fantasy. 

There’s something intimate and curious about zooming in on an empty concrete jungle. Reeya stops at an intersection as she catches the light leaking past tall structures. What is she looking at? The viewer cannot see beyond the buildings, yet there’s a sense of optimism. Is this early morning? Or is the sun setting? Why is no one else in sight? I like to leave a little mystery.

Color is one of my favorite parts of creating art. I wanted to incorporate a sense of light and dark, the contrast of past and future, and a dreamlike feeling where the colors are much more vibrant than in reality. 

I have always been intrigued by textures as well. Here, the distinction between the rigid architectural lines and the faint roaming fog adds drama to the composition. It’s always a challenge to interpret words or other forms of creative expression into visual art, but that’s the beauty of illustrations—ideas are limitless, and each mind is free to imagine where the story goes.