I discovered the art of Yumi Sakugawa when I found her zine A Special Message for You Hand-Delivered to You From the Universe in a local bookstore. I fell in love with her black-and-white comics, which are wondrous and transcendental but never exclusive. I was drawn (pun intended) to Yumi’s simple illustrations, full of small, enchanting details like tiny lotuses and eyes and curly telephone cords that connect the whole universe together. It was the first time I started to think of the universe as something other than a random, chaotic blob.
Not all of her comics are as metaphysical. Claudia Kishi, My Asian-American Female Role Model of the ’90s is a humorous and meaningful ode to The Babysitters Club character that was a shining star in a sea of very sparse Asian-American pop culture representation. Her book Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One With the Universe serves as a compass for navigating life’s existential crises without ever being preachy or condescending. There Is No Right Way to Meditate is Yumi’s newest book. It is the perfect gateway into the world of meditation, which can often seem elusive and esoteric—but, as Yumi shows it, it’s because the world is actually you but a more you version of you.
I revisit Yumi’s zines and books often. They are reminders of my own significance. With each read, I find more ways to bring calmness and inspiration into my life. There is a universality to them even when they are personal. They help me love myself as an extension of loving the universe.
I had the chance to ask Yumi some questions about her life and illustrations. Here are her magical, illustrated responses, featuring some cat friends, the pros of self-publishing, and an exercise you can do to start meditating literally whenever you want.
MADELINE KEYES-LEVINE: When did you realize that illustrating was your thing in life?