We interviewed Yumi Sakugawa, an Ignatz Awards nominated comic book artist and the author of “Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe”, “I Think I am in Friend-Love with You”, and her new book coming out in bookstores nationwide November 1, “There is No Right Way to Meditate: And Other Lessons”.
bunnyhawk >> “Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe”… such a whimsical journey of introspection and philosophical exploration… a beautiful how-to for someone looking to changed their experience of the world! What was your personal journey in writing and illustrating this? How did the idea come together?
YUMI >> My inspiration for creating the book was to create a fun self-help book that I would have loved to have read when I was starting to discover meditation and self-help books. And it was actually originally meant to be an online course for a self-help online course website, so all of the images and texts were originally going to be completely posted on the web. Thankfully, that fell through, so then I decided to print them myself as zines. And then it became too cumbersome to print on my own because I had to keep buying stacks of glittery card stock paper for the covers, so then it was by my luck that my publisher who published my first book was interested in turning the material into a book. It went through many forms, and I’m very thankful that it is now an actual book and not an online course as it was originally intended.
bunnyhawk >> What other books, films or artists inspire you? If you could have tea with any of them, who? and what would you want to discuss?
YUMI >> Lately, I’m in awe of multidisciplinary artists who bring their vision to life in different mediums and forms. Like: Björk, Miranda July, Yoko Ono, Yayoi Kusama, Tavi Geninson… My early to mid twenties was a process of elimination in which I finally decided that I really wanted to do comics, and that comics (as opposed to painting, novels, plays, film) was my main medium. Now I am swinging towards the opposite direction of expansion where I am curious and excited as to how I can expand my ideas and explore new visions through other forms of media that aren’t comics. With artists, I’m mostly curious about the artistic process and specific creative decisions / serendipitous breakthroughs that lead them to the final form.
bunnyhawk >> What are your three favorite possessions, and the story behind each?
YUMI >> (1) Most recently, an amethyst crystal I bought for myself after an enlightening DIY artist retreat I did with two friends in Santa Fe. A reminder to stay mindful and open to divine messages from the universe. (2) A small cacti in a ceramic planter made by an amazing artist friend. A reminder of the importance of community and friendships. (3) A framed piece of Japanese calligraphy that has the characters for “freedom” written on paper by ink created by my cousin who was an award-winning calligrapher in Japan. A reminder of my namesake “beautiful freedom” and to always be independent.
bunnyhawk >> How often do you meditate and what’s your ritual like? Any advice for someone looking to start…
YUMI >> I sit in attentive silence for twenty minutes on my couch first thing in the morning. For people who are just starting out, you should try meditation apps on your smart phone. Most of them have guided meditations, which tell you what you should pay attention to when you are sitting in silence.
(art by Yumi)
bunnyhawk >> Do you collect anything (physically or metaphorically) – and if so what and why?
YUMI >> I like to collect memories of mindful moments when I was really living in the now and feeling interconnected with everything. It is a reminder that my best moments are usually when I am offline and fully present to the possibilities of the moment.
bunnyhawk >> Experiencing true joy by connecting with the universe, as you encourage in your book is something thankfully anyone can do regardless of their situation… on a literal level and for fun: if you had the opportunity to go to outer space, would you? Where in space would you go and what would you do?
YUMI >> If I could go to outer space without buckets of money, I would love to do that. I would like to visit a planet with life forms and simply observe how other entities live.
bunnyhawk >> Are you a lucid dreamer, and if so would you mind sharing a favorite?
YUMI >> I lucid dream sometimes. My favorite lucid dreams are when I fly.