Since our humble beginnings in 2013, we have always created a theme, manifesto, and poster for each edition of the THU main event: our story immortalized through words and art. Something that many people don't realize (but fair enough - we never explained it) is all the creative work that goes behind the manifesto and poster, as well as the connection between the two. 

The first step is coming up with a manifesto and theme that encapsulates a message to the Tribe and a statement to our creative journey together. As the storyteller at THU, I can say that this process always starts with a blank page, a few solid hours of panic writing, and freaking out a little because *insert the name of that year's poster artist/all-around creative legend* is going to illustrate what I'm putting on paper. If you google "Miyazaki creative process," you can have a good grasp of how things usually go. 

After that, we brainstorm and discuss the manifesto with the poster artist, who brings our words to life through their art. For this edition, my main focus was to come up with something that celebrates that we're all in the process of becoming - and there's no hurry or timeline to be something other than what we are right now. I know for many people (myself included), THU is a place where you can embrace that, allowing yourself to grow into the most genuine "you" that you can be. 

I'm a big fan of Yuko Shimizu's work (and this year's epic poster), so I asked her a few questions to get her insights on the creative process. 

- Let's go back to the beginning of your story with THU. How was your first experience? And first impression? 

I love the idea that THU focuses on the artist community building, more so than the typical conference/event model that is based on going to listen to the sessions. (though sessions are great). I see people crying at the end of the event because they don't want to say goodbye to friends till next year. That says a lot. Art is a lonely business, and not everyone is in the situation where it is easy to find local artist communities where they live. I am thankful that THU is giving the place for them to gather. We all learn and grow to be better artists amongst our peers. 

- This year's theme is "A Place to Become", focusing on change and transformation. Given what you know of the Tribe and your connection to them, how did you interpret it?

I wanted something to give positive hope and an explosion of energy because this is the first full-scale event since COVID has started. 

- How did the collaboration for this year's poster come about? I remember you saying in one of the first emails, "It may look a bit crazy but…. yeah, it kind of is," which I thought was a great insight into its creative process. Can you describe the creative journey behind this poster and how the idea evolved?

André asked me during the last summer's event. I wasn't sure at first. As you know, My work doesn't belong to the majority of the artist group who attend the event. I am not a disruptor. Whenever I attend THU I am fully aware that I am an odd one in the mix, but also, THU wants the artists to get exposed to things that are different from what they are used to. 

André said it's totally OK to be different. I don't know… Maybe it is not for everyone, but it is also nice to get your norm checked, right? Ha ha. 

- This is the first THU poster depicting a water unicorn, which I think is really cool. What inspired you to create it?

I tried to incorporate the location and experience of being in Tróia. It is a peninsula that is surrounded by never-ending beaches…So, incorporating sea and water was the starting point. The rest was trials and errors of lots of rough thumbnails on what may work, what may not work….And in the process, ended up with this conclusion. 

- The flowers are one of the most prominent features of this poster, bursting out of the unicorn and taking over. What are they?

The flowers are peonies. I thought of going with roses, but that's too obvious. I like camellias, but it is really a symbol of winter, and I also used it for some other poster project. I needed a big glorious flower to mark the resurrection of the event in full scale, so a type of flower with a lot of glam, presence, but less obvious compared to roses. Colorwise, I took liberties. Peonies are usually pink-ish or red-ish. The image started off as pink peony flowers, but there was no surprise in the color scheme (flowers = pink), so we changed around, and settled with orange.

Thank you, Yuko!

If you'd like to join us this September and find your "Place to Become," don't forget to get your ticket for THU2022 while they're available. See you there!

- Joana Vale