7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #559: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Yuko Okabe

h1 November 5th, 2017 by jules


It’s the first Sunday of the month, dear Imps, which means a student illustrator or newly-graduated illustrator here at 7-Imp.

Today, I welcome Yuko Okabe, a recent graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design, who is now pursuing life as an illustrator in Boston. She also works as an artist for Mighteor, and she describes that work below.

Yuko is also currently creating a picture book with a couple of people and is becoming increasingly interested in picture books and children’s books.

I thank her for visiting. Here she is, in her own words . …


Yuko: Despite my limits being in crowds, I’m often drawn to create works that are saturated with people, inspired by my wallflower observances. Yet there’s always a dialogue that I have between myself and illustration; I’ve uncovered new aspects of myself through the ideas I conjure and the particular attention I pay to certain themes, colors, and even mediums from my own work and of others.



For instance, I’ve discovered my innate fixation to form characters out of spontaneous blobs and shapes. This drew out of a series of 2″x2″ geometric character paintings I made as Christmas gifts for a group of friends/mentors, and I continued to manipulate the limits of human anatomy since (though admittedly I often default to proportions from Dexter’s Laboratory characters). This past Inktober, I explored designing people using the Japanese syllabry, hiragana, which is made out of 46 basic characters. Essentially, I structured the series like an alphabet book where the characters corresponded to a word beginning with the hiragana. Hopefully by the time this comes out, I will have finished them all! I plan to put them all in a chart and print cards for my family.







Since graduation, I’ve been developing more personal work. I’m currently refurbishing a picture book dummy with an interested publisher, so I’ll see where that will lead. The story is about a “pebble”-sized girl who constantly gets lost or trapped in the modern world. At the moment, I’m powering through sketches and seeing how visual metaphors, like scale, can play more with the text.


(Click to enlarge)


In addition to freelancing/personal projects, I’ve been working for a start-up company called Mighteor by Neuromotion Labs, which is working to create a biofeedback game platform to teach coping skills to children with aggressive and anxious behaviors commonly associated with ADHD. With a heart rate monitor function, a child’s progress depends on how well they can control their own heart rate in-game. For example, when their heart rate heightens, the game loses control and they have to learn to lower it again in order to gain functionality and earn points. (This is essentially a definition of biofeedback therapy, learning to control typically involuntary physiological processes through training.) I originally started working with Mighteor through a fellowship two summers ago through the Boston Children’s Hospital, where they began. I received aid to pursue this project from RISD’s Maharam Fellowship, which sponsors students who design and propose internships in non-art and design fields. So in a way, I created my own job. It’s been both fun and challenging, since there’s a lot to learn from both ends.



In the future, I hope to pursue more projects related to children and publishing, particularly with picture books. My first attempt at a picture book came at around five or six years old with a story called “Alley and the Big Bear” (because I didn’t know how to spell the name “Allie”), which was about a girl befriending a bear who stumbles into her backyard. For about a decade, starting at around three years old, I also made this half-comic, half long-form picture story-line about this girl who kept falling into a hole a lot. I called it “The Girl Who Kept Falling Into the Hole A Lot.” (I eventually changed it to “The Girl” for brevity.) It was very Alice in Wonderland– and Calvin and Hobbes-inspired.



In short, I always wanted to create stories, and I’m looking forward to exciting, collaborative, and interdisciplinary adventures.


(Click to enlarge)


All images used by permission of Yuko Okabe.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I got a galley of the new Dory book, coming in 2018, and as always, my girls and I laughed till our sides hurt when we read it.

2) A visit yesterday from a good friend.

3) The NY Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book list (now with a new name) was announced this week! I look forward to that every fall.

4) My Jedi girls at Halloween.

5) When you need new-music tips and your friends oblige.

6) I think I’m in the minority, but I like the “fall back” on the clock at this time every year. I like the shorter winter days.

7) Close calls (just short of disasters).


What are YOUR kicks this week?

7 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #559: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Yuko Okabe”

  1. Good morning, Imps!

    Hello, Yuko! Congratulations on your graduation and best of luck with your illustration work as well as the biofeedback therapy work – that is awesome!

    Jules: High-fives to your Jedis!

    My kicks from the past week include:
    1) Costumes
    2) Performances
    3) Readings
    4) Music
    5) Poetic maps
    6) Refreshing
    7) Simplicity

  2. Yuko – thank you for sharing your art with us! Really love your hiragana project, and congratulations on creating your own job-sounds like a great project!

    Jules – hooray for reading and laughing with your girls, Halloween Jedis, visits with good friends and new music!

    LW – your kicks this week read like what I imagine a poetic map to be. Love that they start with Costumes and with Refreshing Simplicity. And whatever a potic map is, it sounds wonderful.

    My kicks:
    1) Devoured Philip Pullman’s “The Book of Dust” and ready for the next one.
    2) Work continues to be busy, challenging, & rewarding.
    3) Daisy is leading the pack in a costume contest fundraiser for a very worthy cause.
    4) Cold, rainy weather outside and a cozy fire with Daisy to snuggle inside.
    5) Started re-reading A Wrinkle in Time.
    6) A much-needed massage at a place I’d never been to – and it was amazing.
    7) Match day for the Timbers, Major League Soccer Semifinals Playoffs. Hopefully it won’t rain (much) for the match.
    7.5) Heading into another week full of the promise of good things.

    Happy Sunday Imps! Wishing everyone a week full of good things!

  3. Rachel: Good luck, Daisy! 🙂 I am waiting for my copy of the Pullman book to arrive. I didn’t consider the tie-in of Simplicity (Patterns) to costumes there – good catch! I shared the poem A Map of World by Ted Kooser at my blog, Bildungsroman, this week: https://slayground.livejournal.com/861656.html

  4. Oof, I needed spellcheck this morning. And to slow down.

    LW – that poem is lovely, and for me, having just read The Book of Dust, there are echoes of synchronicity in the language. I also wasn’t thinking of the Simplicity patterns (although that makes sense too), my thoughts were more you started with Costumes (Elaborate in my mind, but they don’t have to be) and wended your way to Refreshing and then Simplicity, like removing layers.

    Daisy in her Olaf costume can be found here: https://www.gogophotocontest.com/poochhalloweencontest/entries/109151

  5. Thank you for the support!

    Jules — Ooh, the NY Times Best Illustrated Books look amazing, I especially love “Muddy” and “A Magical Do-Nothing Day.” Also kids make the best Jedis, so intuitive and quick on their feet. 🙂

    My Seven Kicks:

    1). Went to Salem, MA last weekend for a super kitschy, Halloween walk through. Had Apple Cinnamon donuts!

    2). Got free food from work.

    3). Went to my first TedX talk featuring speakers who spoke about innovative education models.

    4). Got a lovely package from a friend that included natural minerals (dirt,sand) from the Bay Area and a wooden spin top!

    5). Featured on Seven Imp 🙂

    6). Really want to buy a copy of “Kuma-Kuma Chan” because it looks so wholesome.

    7.) Connected with my uncle in Japan over LINE (a messaging app).

  6. Little Willow: Thank you for sharing a Kooser poem. Ah. He’s so good.

    Rachel: You already read The Book of Dust? Ooh! It’s in my TBR pile. Excited. Love your last kick. Thanks for sharing Daisy’s costume. SQUEE!

    Yuko, was telling a friend just yesterday about the wonderful Kuma-Kuma Chan books. I hope you find copies to read. … Thank YOU for visiting 7-Imp! Now I want an apple cinnamon donut.

  7. Jules: I listened to Mirrorball on repeat earlier today. That song is gorgeous.

    Rachel: I hope Daisy wins the contest! She looks paws-itively THRILLED. 🙂

    Yuko: Free food is amazing. Natural minerals are even better.

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