6 Amazing Examples of AAPI Representation in Illustration

This Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’re paying homage to some awesome AAPI illustrators!

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Collage of different AAPI illustrator's work

During May, we honor Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! By doing so, we’re celebrating the generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who continue to enrich America’s history. Here at Bookstr, we’ve gathered a few AAPI Illustrators whom we can’t get enough of!

Yuko Shimizu

Collage of Yuko Shimizu and her art for Bookstr Instagram post
cr. Kayla Torres / Bookstr

Yuko Shimizu (清水裕子) is an award-winning Japanese illustrator based in New York City. Though illustration is her second career, art has always been her passion. She graduated with an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2003. For the past 20 years of her life, Yuko has been teaching and illustrating, spreading the joy of creating to anyone willing to listen.

Her work spans several disciplines, from pages of The New York Times and TIME to covers for DC Comics and Penguin, all the way to advertising for big brand companies like Apple and Microsoft. She’s also collaborated with the Smithsonian Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Library of Congress. Yuko Shimizu has illustrated books such as The Cat Man of Aleppo, A Crack in the Sea, The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde, and many more, which you can check out here!

Brenda Chi

Collage of Brenda Chi and her art for Bookstr Instagram post
cr. Kayla Torres / Bookstr

Los Angeles native Brenda Chi (BCHI) was raised by sitcoms and cartoons. She creates gorgeous works of art that shine a light on Asian American stories and experiences. She strives to make art that elevates all BIPOC, empowering and inspiring others along the way. With a background in web comics as an associate art director, BCHI is a multidisciplinary artist whose work spans animation, educational illustration, and apparel consumer products.

BCHI is a small business owner, selling work of her own that honors the AAPI experience. She has illustrated covers for works such as IDW’s Transformers: Beast Wars #11 and #14. On top of that, she’s credited as a comic artist and writer for New Frontiers: The Many Worlds of George Takei and credited as an illustrator for History is Colorful: A Coloring Book of Asian American Pioneers and for the Chinese American Museum’s zine Don’t Believe the Hype: Asian Americans in Hip Hop. You can find more of BCHI’s work here!

Sirin Thada

Collage of Sirin Thada and her art for Bookstr Instagram post
cr. Kayla Torres / Bookstr

Sirin Thada is an award-winning illustrator and artist based in New York City! She is currently working as the in-house illustrator of Catapult Magazine. Sirin’s parents immigrated from Thailand to Baltimore, where she was born and raised. From a young age, you could always find her with three items: a book, paper, and pens to draw with. She paints and draws to commemorate special places, their history, and the nature around them. She enjoys “recontextualizing these personal memories into larger, pattern-like compositions—an attempt to express the singular universal.”

Her work uses vibrant colors and soft strokes to evoke nostalgic emotions in anyone who views it. Currently, her commissions are booked through the end of 2022, but that’s a surprise to no one! Sirin has worked with major companies like HBO and Marriott as well as publishing houses like Penguin Books and Poetry Foundation. You can find the rest of Sirin’s work here!

Isip Xin

Collage of Isip Xin and her art for Bookstr Instagram post
cr. Kayla Torres / Bookstr

Isip Xin is a New York City-based illustrator, and it’s not an uncommon sight to find her drinking hojicha alongside her cat Artemis. She is a freelance illustrator and comic creator interested in giving a visually striking edge to the stories of others. Isip works to empower the queer community and immortalize her travels through her art.

She’s collaborated with large companies like the Poetry Foundation and worked with Jeeyon Shim on The Shape of Shadows, a connected path game. You can find more of Isip’s work here!

Illi Ferandez

Collage of Illi Ferandez and her art for Bookstr Instagram post
cr. Kayla Torres / Bookstr

Illi Ferandez is an illustrator based in Chicago. She hopes to highlight her personal experiences as a Filipino-American who moved to the United States as a child. Her illustrations celebrate Filipino culture and the collective experiences of Filipino-Americans. As stated by the Filipino American Artist Directory, “Her focus on color harmony is a crucial element in her work and is considered a signature style in her ongoing pieces.”

Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily, and Highsnobiety. She is also credited as the illustrator in 30 Inspiring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Who Have Shaped the United States. Illi also runs a small business selling prints and stickers of her works that you can find here!

Dadu Shin

Collage of Dadu Shin and his art for Bookstr Instagram post
cr. Kayla Torres / Bookstr

Dadu Shin is a Korean American, Brooklyn-based illustrator. He was introduced to art by his mother, who is a textile artist. Dadu tends to reach for the pencil over any other medium because it’s always been the tool he’s the “most confident with as an artist.”

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Nautilus, and The New Yorker. Dadu has also designed covers for works like The Temple of Dawn and Sense and Sensibility (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition). You can find more of Dadu’s work on his website here!

I sure hope that you enjoyed this brief overview of some amazing AAPI illustrators! Representation is something that droves of people are still fighting for. Hopefully this piece has expanded your appreciation for AAPI illustration and representation!

For more content on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month from Bookstr, click here!