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Virtual Asian-American Art Museum Project

Alexei Taylor, Author

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Shimomura’s Experience as a Commercial Designer

But ultimately, you found that life as a commercial designer was not satisfying, and you transferred after about a year, is that right?

 I worked at it for three years or so. I had several pretty good jobs, the best of which was the account for the Polynesian Pavilion at the [1964] New York World’s Fair. I did everything from menu designs to the main neon sign and so on. I got a real healthy dose of some of the better jobs. But I found that I detested working with clients. After I began teaching, it was common for students to ask me if double majoring in illustration and painting was a good idea; one major to make money and the other for self-fulfillment. I said it was a horrible idea because one activity was for commercial gain while the other was for the opposite, introspection and self. Most likely, at best, I warned, you would not be exceptional at either.

Did your grandmother play any role in your decision to respond to your sense of history by choosing a path as an artist (fig. 5)?

She had virtually no role, although I think she, too, believed that medicine was the highest calling. When I was at Syracuse—I think I’d just completed my first year there in 1968—she passed away. I had absolutely no idea that her diaries and other writings might connect her with my artistic life some day.
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