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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tokyo Heist Gallery #2: Rich Lee

Welcome to Week 2 of the TOKYO HEIST ART GALLERY!

Every Tuesday leading up to the June 14 launch of Tokyo Heist, I'm featuring illustrations by artists to watch out for. These professional artists have generously donated their time and talent to illustrate a scene or a character from the novel, and to answer questions about their creative careers. I hope you'll check out their websites and see more of their exciting work! There will also be giveaways each week. (If you missed last week's featured artist, Ming Doyle, you can click here to see her illustration and read the interview).

Today I'd like to introduce you to illustrator/graphic designer Rich Lee, who's dropped by with a couple of shady characters from Tokyo Heist!
Illustration by Rich Lee

I think Rich perfectly captured what I had in mind when I dreamed these guys up, and I love that they captured his imagination as an artist. Also love the colors in this picture, the feeling of Seattle damp and gloom, and the sense of intrigue.

And now, here's my interview with Rich!

Q: Tell us about your illustration. Why did you choose to draw this scene from the novel? 
A: I liked the ironic image of the two Yakuza trying to fit in with the locals (with the Prius and Seahawks umbrellas) but you can easily tell that they're kind of shifty.

Q: Can you describe your process for us?
A: Sketched and colored in Photoshop.

Q: What kind of work do you do as a professional artist? Who are your clients?
A: I work on everything from sport illustrations to comic books to logo work and formatting teacher guides. Some of my current and past clients include BMW Motorcycles of San Francisco, San Francisco - Osaka Sister City Association, Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California, Cycle World Magazine, Giants Magazine, MINI Cooper of San Francisco, Stanford University's SPICE Program, and Versus.com, to name a few.

Q: What work are you most proud of?
A: Some of the work that I'm most proud of are the motorcycle, baseball, and basketball drawings I've done and subsequently had signed by the players/riders themselves. One of my recent drawings of Jeremy Lin got signed and is proudly hanging in my studio.

Q: When did you know you wanted to become an artist? Was there one "a-ha" moment, was it a gradual process, or did you just always know?
A: In 2005 I came upon a fork in the road where I could stay comfortably at a local motorcycle shop or go back to school for formal art training. It was at this point I decided to quite my 9-5 gig and go freelance full-time. While freelancing can be frustrating at times, I am very happy to get paid for doing what I love.

Q: How did you go about pursuing art as a career? What kind of education did you have?
A: I received an undergraduate degree in graphic design from Sacramento State University and a few years later I earned a Master's in illustration from the Academy of Art here in San Francisco. The training I received form the Academy of Art sharpened my skills as an illustrator, and the time I spent studying graphic design allowed me to use various digital tools to enhance my illustration work. Equally important, I believe that graphic design has also helped me "package" up my illustrations with more of a design-conscious manner.

Q: What artists have influenced you?
A: John Singer Sargent, J.C. Leyendecker, Moebius, Katsuhiro Otomo, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Franklin Booth, Paolo Eleuteri Serpieri, Milo Manara, Jim Lee.

Q: What inspires you?
A: I think I am inspired most by anyone who does anything with not only passion but an eye for detail and quality. Whether it's cooking, music, kung fu or whatever, I enjoy listening to and learning from people who are into their respective crafts. I respect people who are never satisfied with their work and who are willing and ready to put in the work. 

Q: What is the most challenging part of working as an artist? What is the most rewarding? 
A: The most challenging part of being a freelance artist is definitely the business side of things. The most rewarding part is knowing that I am getting paid to do what I love -- not many people can say that I think. It's like, "Dude, I'm getting paid to draw!" 

Q: What misconceptions do you think people have about artists?
A: I think the biggest misconception is that people think that since I love to draw, I would also love to draw their ideas in my "free time." I don't ask others to do work for me for free, so I expect the same in return.

Q: What were you like in high school?
A: Wanted to be part of the crowd -- and never really made the most of my potential in class. Most of my notebooks were filled with doodles, and not words.

Thank you for visiting, Rich, and thanks for the great illustration! 

Here's where Rich Lee lurks online:
Website: Rich Lee Draws!
Twitter: @richleedraws

But wait . . . there's more! Here are the week 2 gallery giveaways! You can win one of these prize packs:
1. A hardcover copy of TOKYO HEIST, signed by me, to be mailed on its release date 6/14/12, PLUS five feet of official TOKYO HEIST crime scene tape. (Great for decorating or for mystifying your neighbors!)
2. A print of Rich Lee's illustration inspired by TOKYO HEIST, signed by Rich. PLUS five feet of official TOKYO HEIST crime scene tape. PLUS five TOKYO HEIST bookmarks.

Click on the Rafflecopter thingie below (where it says "read more" if you don't see a box) and follow the instructions!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

UPDATE: We have winners from last week's giveaway of art by Ming Doyle!

Winner #1 (signed copy of TANTALIZE): Artemis
Winner #2 (Wonder Tote Bag): Maria Qa
Winner #3 (Set of Girl Reporter prints): Evic Or

Congratulations to the winners -- you'll be hearing from me soon -- and thanks to everyone who entered and helped spread the word about this gallery!  

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Blogger Maria said...

I really love Tsukioka Yoshitoshi's work as well! It's definitely awesome to be paid to do what you love, that's probably everyone's dream job!

May 29, 2012 at 12:07 PM  
Blogger Vivien said...

Fabulous artwork!!! I love it. I can't wait to read this book. Illustrations in books are such a favorite thing of mine!

May 29, 2012 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

I think Katsuhiro Otomo is great too, Akira, Roujin Z, Steamboy. And that's awesome and brave that you went for a Masters in art.

May 29, 2012 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger Lori M. Lee said...

Love the art style. The exaggerated feet and hands, and how the guy in front feels no need to use his umbrella lol.

I'd love to see that signed Jeremy Lin illustrationg :D

May 29, 2012 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I like the drawing! The car is so incredibly realistic!

The one thing I'm skeptical about is the oversize feet, because they make me think of A Goofy Movie.

May 29, 2012 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger Sarahbotbonkers said...

Really cool artwork! I wish someday I could tell someone that I'm getting paid at doing what I love. That'd be really rewarding. :)

May 29, 2012 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger Diana Renn said...

Thanks for the comments! I just want to clarify that the novel isn't illustrated; the four artists I'm featuring on this blog did illustrations inspired by the book, choosing characters, images or scenes.

May 29, 2012 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger Valia Lind said...

The artwork is awesome! :-)

May 29, 2012 at 2:42 PM  
Blogger Heather@The Flyleaf Review said...

I read this book a few weeks ago as part of an ARC Tour and I loved it! I have a degree in Art History and enjoyed all the Japanese art references (love Ando Hiroshige!) Since it was a tour I had to send the book on so I would love to win a copy of my own:)

May 29, 2012 at 2:45 PM  
Blogger Lena said...

The artwork looks so amazing!!! I think it would so cool for Tokyo Heist to have a picture companion book in some way :) I have been enjoying my arc of Tokyo Heist :)

May 29, 2012 at 3:14 PM  
Blogger Shortskie said...

Loved reading this and the artwork is impressive, a wonderful captured scene C:

May 29, 2012 at 3:48 PM  
Blogger FireStarBooks said...

WOW THE DRAWING!!! I wish I could draw like that!

May 29, 2012 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger Tal said...

Love the art style!

May 29, 2012 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger lisseth said...

Freaking LOVE it! Thank goodness he decided to continue to study art & take a risk. Now we have a true artist. Went on his website too, they are amazing! Thanks for the giveaway, your book sounds cool too! =)

May 29, 2012 at 5:55 PM  
Anonymous Lucy @ The Reading Date said...

Love the art gallery feature- so in keeping with the book! Very cool seeing the yakuza come to life in the Seattle setting. I agree that they do look like some shifty characters.

May 29, 2012 at 6:25 PM  
Anonymous hd said...

love the color palette -

May 29, 2012 at 10:18 PM  
Blogger Carina Olsen said...

Ohh, this is the best giveaway. <3 thank you so much :D *Fingers crossed.* <3 And ohh! I LOVE THE ART! It is just really great. :) So pretty, too. Thank you for sharing it :D
Love, Carina

May 30, 2012 at 3:06 AM  
Blogger Aly said...

I love the illustrations. They look cartoonistic but at the same time very realistic. I'm just so excited!!!
My Heart Hearts Books

May 30, 2012 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger chelleyreads said...

it's awesome to be paid to do what you love. it's not ofter one gets to do that. :)

May 30, 2012 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger molly.frenzel said...

I loved the interview. I would really like to learn how to incorporate graphic design into illustration. I have absolutely no concept on how its done and I'm fascinated by artists that can create completely awesome pieces on a computer.

May 30, 2012 at 4:20 PM  
Blogger Hilda K said...

Oh, finger crossed! I really want to read Tokyo Heist, it sounds really amazing! <3 I really like the illustration! Yakuza! x) I think I want to visit Japan simply to see real life Yakuza. Hehe it makes me smile that Rich Lee is inspired by kung fu! I think inspiration is really everywhere then! x)

Thank you for the amazing giveaway! <3

May 30, 2012 at 10:56 PM  
Blogger thephotographyelf said...

At first glance, I thought he did the illustration on paper not in Photoshop. It's a great illustration of the characters.

hainam AT shaw DOT ca

May 31, 2012 at 2:10 AM  
Blogger jpetroroy said...

Such stunning work--love the colors.

May 31, 2012 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Somehow I didn't hear about Tokyo Heist until now! Rich Lee's artwork is fantastic. I love how the rain is captured and "bleeds" the edges of the image.

May 31, 2012 at 11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such beautiful artwork… my niece was talking about this at Anime North this weekend, so she's sparked my interest for sure!

May 31, 2012 at 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Sophie said...

Gorgeous art! And I loved the misconceptions about artists question (and answer :)).

May 31, 2012 at 12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great way to expose readers to artists! I'm definitely expanding my horizons. (commenting as Justine)

May 31, 2012 at 7:01 PM  
Blogger Diana Renn said...

So glad people are enjoying the illustration and interview; thank you for the thoughtful comments about the art and the nice words about Tokyo Heist! You are awesome.

May 31, 2012 at 7:58 PM  
Blogger melannie (: said...

Oooh the artwork really looks Tokyo inspired and is that a ford car? haha. The characters definitely look shady ;/

I'd love to read this book, I'm a bit tired of the US setting

May 31, 2012 at 8:22 PM  
Blogger Kimberly Lim said...

I think the illustration is fine but its not up to my taste

June 1, 2012 at 1:26 AM  
Blogger REBECCA@ReadingWishes said...

Such a cool illustation! Thanks for the interview, I enjoyed reading it. Tokyo Heist looks AMAZING, thanks so much for the giveaway! :) And congratulation on the release, not long to go now!

June 2, 2012 at 2:24 AM  
Anonymous Jenn H said...

Great interview! I love the illustrations and think they look Awesome! :) Thanks for the giveaway!

June 2, 2012 at 4:56 AM  
Blogger Erin W. said...

Awesome interview! Loving the illustrations! Thanks for the giveaway!

June 2, 2012 at 11:32 AM  

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