Shiu Yoshijima is an independent manga artist, painter, and yuri enthusiast whose specialty is creating “poisonous, dangerous women”. You can find her otherworldly illustrations on her Pixiv account, on Twitter, in her published art books, and even on flyers for fetish and underground communities. She mentions that her art takes a lot of inspiration from Tim Burton, as well as from a Japanese musician named Chihiro Onitsuka.
We got the chance to speak with her briefly at Anime Boston 2023, where she made her US debut with a full art booth and a live drawing event. Let’s see what she has to say about her unique style and perspective!
During the live drawing, you often switched around which areas you were working on, decided to give the girl cat ears partway through, and turned a black paint splotch into a bow. Do you often figure things out in the moment like this?
The entirety of the live drawing was a first for me. I kind of wanted to surprise the audience a little, which is why I added the cat ears. And in terms of the black splash being turned into a ribbon, that was just me making a mistake and I was trying to fix it as quickly as possible. But usually, when I do my drawings, I have a clear vision in my head, so those kinds of improvisations were just me trying something new for the live drawing.
You’ve said that your favorite type of woman is the “poisonous, dangerous woman”. Why are you drawn to that type, and also to non-human characters in general?
In terms of non-human characters and why I’m attracted to them, there’s a sense of melancholy when it comes to seeing girls who are non-human. Because, you know, obviously they have human traits, but they also have a more animalistic side. Animal girls have their primal instincts. So seeing that, and having those traits mixed in with the more human side of things, makes the character have a bit of a melancholic or somber feeling surrounding them.
A lot of the characters that I draw pertain to the cycle of life. For example, one character goes through the metamorphic cycle of a chrysalis becoming a butterfly. I get drawn into trying to put myself into that cycle of life, and so that’s why I’m drawn to that sort of primal instinct of a non-human girl, while mixed in with the irony that they’re also human. So that aspect is what draws me to them.
What draws you to yuri relationships?
I personally enjoy drawing cute girls, so that’s one of the main reasons. And also, when I watch movies that are related to those kinds of relationships, there’s a part of me that self-reflects – I see myself in those situations and think, “Oh, I really wish I was in a relationship like that.” So when I draw yuri, there’s a bit of me where, while I’m drawing, I’ll be thinking, “I wish I was in this kind of romance.” Simply put, it’s just because I like cute girls. That’s what I feel when I draw yuri.
And finally, what do you find to be the most rewarding part of being an artist?
The best part of being an illustrator is when I get a commission or request and I’m able to utilize my style to perfectly – like a puzzle piece – match what the client wanted. And when I see that they’re happy with the results, that’s when I feel the greatest. That’s when I’m really glad I’m an illustrator.