Yumi Sakugawa Interview

Yumi SakugawaOriginally posted on DUM DUM Zine

DUM DUM Zine: OMG so…I know you’re sitting right next to me at The Semi Tropic cafe but…wanna casually start a few questions from our txt msg interview?

Yumi Sakugawa: Yes!!

DDZ: I’ve been dying to keep this a secret for the last 10 minutes I’ve planned it all along lololol


DDZ:  It feels especially fun doing this interview since we’re friends, and were literally sitting right next to each other on our weekly work date. What are you working on right now?

YS: I’m sketching out new artwork I want to add for this new book I am finishing up (title pending), which should be coming out next spring! I really like brainstorming sketches and concepts in cafes, and then doing the nitty gritty heavy-lifting drawing at home.

DDZ: I love how you checked your txt on your Apple Watch lmfao

We also get to have kombucha and talk about our moonstone meditation out in the open here (so L.A. lol)…How does this vibe, and any other factors of working in cafes inspire you vs. your regular workspace?

YS: I am suuuuch an Apple Watch nerd, i’m hardly a tech person but I love it so much!

My workspace is just at home and so sometimes I just need the company and energy of other people, even if it is just by proxy. (Even better if I’m working with a friend, like I am now, with you!) Too much solitude can make me feel like a prisoner of my own thoughts. So being around people and hearing the background din of multiple conversations sometimes is the medicine I need if I feel stuck or uninspired.

Yumi Sakugawa

DDZ: The kombucha buzz must help too…plus we can get wine here if we feel like it! This actually links back to the Txt Msg Interview we did with Zoë Ruiz where we were pondering if there’s a legit place in L.A. with wifi and booze!

Or the dude sitting right behind us who just talked about burning sage NBD

YS: I tried to eavesdrop more on their convo. One of them was kind of complaining about a gf who was not cool with the fact that he schedules events and socializing ahead of couple-time …

DDZ: Yikes, that’s awkward…that was such an L.A. moment where we all sort of became part of the same conversation for a hot minute.

You and I talk a lot about creative rituals, meditations to get into making mindset, etc. Can you send me 3 images of things that you have been meditating on visually? Can be funny/weird/arty doesn’t matter

1. every morning at the end of my meditation session I visualize being bathed in a shower of golden light
Yumi Sakugawa

2. throughout the day I imagine wearing an invisible crown wherever I go (based on that quotation)
Yumi Sakugawa

3. And I keep imagining this feral wolf girl who also happens to have perfect fringe bangs. Avatar? Guardian spirit? inspired by this past life meditation I did with LA mystic Marcella Kroll and mu current book obsession WOMEN WHO RUN WITH WOLVES

Yumi Sakugawa
DDZ: I love these so much but I need to interrupt these thoughts with a series of urgent literary Cavalier King Charles Spaniel photographs that our Managing Editor Rosa Quezada just unearthed from the Lithub Instagram feed. Pls note the featured Joan Didion totes that we both own from AWP this year

Yumi Sakugawa Yumi Sakugawa Yumi Sakugawa


Aghh the brown blotch on the side of the mouth kills me.

DDZ: I’m fucking dead and in heaven

This is a world where we can have BOTH Didion and Cavvies. Is this feminist utopia? (Throwback to AWP once again when I attended your awesome feminist utopia panel!!)

YS: “The kiss of Buddha”

YES. A feminist utopia is a cavvie-filled one.

Yumi Sakugawa

DDZ: Gosh these dogs are enlightened, they have a built in 3rd eye too?!! The expansion never stops

YS: I am so Cavvie-obsessed that I note when Cavvies have that mark on their crown, which apparently is desired if you want the platonic ideal of a Cavvie? Of course I’ll take one third eye or no third eye

DDZ: Of course. The spot could totally be a 3rd eye or even a crown of petals, like the 2nd meditation you do as part of your creative ritual…

What quotation is it based on again?

YS: I’ve seen it float around on inspirational quotation websites, but it goes like “Always act like you’re wearing an invisible crown” It’s a personal mantra / anchor whenever I am feeling insecure, especially in public situations.

DDZ: I thought you were talking about the 7th chakra crown of 1000 petals! That’s so lovely too

Ok this one is crowd sourced from our readers: How has moving into a generation raised on texting, emojis, and other visual media changed the way you approach language in comics?

YS: Oh man, that is such a great question! I think the first thing that comes to mind is embracing making comics that are specifically meant to be seen on Twitter, or Instagram, or Tumblr. (Maybe eventually I’ll find a way to make Snapchat comics?!) i like the challenge of distilling a moment or a feeling in a single panel that will still leave an impact on the reader.

Also, I have this ambitious comic story about the singularity which I was originally saving for a future published book but the more I think about it, the more I want it to be posted online because it is all about internet culture and what it means to be post-human, etc. I want to incorporate animated gif illustrated panels (which I’ve never done before) and the scrolling format of seeing something in a web browser (which I’ve done when I used to do comics for The Rumpus) and also I do love the idea of a story out there in the interwebs for everybody to read and enjoy because sometimes the audience for a physical book can be limiting to a specific type of reader, a reader with disposable money and room on her bookshelf for extra books.

DDZ: Absolutely! Gosh everyone here at DUM would love to see Yumi animated gifs and Snapchat comics–it’s the next interactive frontier! This reminds me of the comment you made at your AWP panel about how an elegant form of “likes” in the future could translate to spiritual pulsations or vibrations that we could feel in our hearts. New romantic technology!

I remember you used to do large scale paintings when we knew each other in undergrad, and you’ve recently done live painting for Tom’s, not to mention the large scale art fashion installation at Smithsonian this year. How has your identity come into play with this expanding intersectionality of mediums?

YS: I think SO much of my evolving identity has been about questioning and eliminating self-imposed binaries and limitations. Writing or drawing? Why not both! Why just comics? Why not fashion? Why not multimedia installations that address fashion, race, gender and spirituality?

And then just seeing mainstream (white) feminism again and again marginalize WOC voices–well, that just pisses me off and makes me want to be as visible as possible in many ways as possible. It would be SO easy for me to just hide at home, post pictures online and get nice comments about saying nice things about peace, happiness, whatever. And believe me, as a non confrontational introvert for a while I wanted to do just that! But now I want to serve the world with the entirety of my being and abilities–not just comics, not just as a woman, not just in print–so embracing public performance, doing things in public spaces, doing more things that won’t be just seen by a specific niche subculture.

Yumi Sakugawa
“MIND SONGS” and “BODY SONGS” — Yumi and Taleen’s zine collab babies

DDZ: Last question, as part of our ongoing “1 Question Interview” series…I believe you answered this last time you read but it’s been awhile so I wanted to put it out there one more time: what keeps you inspired and astonished as a creator?

YS: Ok I need to hop into a meeting so next question answer coming soon

Man, meetings that come with a free lunch = awesome. I’m actually in my car (not running, texting and driving bad) about to meet Connie to talk about our upcoming joint performance so this is a weirdly perfect bookend to answer your last question.

I think before my answer would have all been about the actual art, how I am astonished when I come up with something in my comics / art that is surprising even to me, etc. etc. and that is still true! Making the art is always a joy in itself.

Yumi Sakugawa

But these days I am just so inspired by where my own artist journey has taken me, and how much of a direct correlation there is between being a good artist and living your life well. Like, am I stagnating or growing? Am I hiding behind a mask or being vulnerable? Am I willing to risk everyone’s good opinion of me to say what is on my mind? Am I going to be cynical and complacent or care to the point of having my heart completely broken? Am I going to face my worst demons and learn to love them?

Every year has been an expansion in being braver, more open, more connected, and so I am so astonished/ inspired / grateful that my own art practice continues to push me to become a better and braver human being.

To circle back on the penultimate question, I do want to add that I plan on launching an illustrated emoji keyboard! I love visual shorthands for complicated emotions (i mean, I am all about the infinite juxtapositions of text and image, duh!)

if visual language shapes perception and vice versa, I feel like we as a world need more emojis that capture mindfulness, peace, WOC, futuristic fashion, divine feminine, to name a few. And cavvies.