Welcome to the Grand Opening of the TOKYO HEIST ART GALLERY!

On Tuesdays, leading up to the launch of my YA mystery Tokyo Heist, I’m doing something a little different with this space.

Violet Rossi, the 16-year-old sleuth in my novel, is a manga fan and an aspiring artist. She secretly works on a graphic novel called The Adventures of Kimono Girl. She’s rarely without her sketchbook. Art is how she makes sense of her feelings, her friendships, her family, her world.

So in the spirit of Violet, I’m turning this blog into an art gallery. Today and for the next three Tuesdays I’m featuring Tokyo Heist-inspired illustrations by artists to watch out for. They’ve donated their time and talent to illustrate a character, image, or scene 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 galore — one or more items every week!

Our first featured artist is Ming Doyle. Ming is a comic artist and freelance illustrator. She holds a BFA from Cornell University with a dual concentration in painting and drawing. Ming illustrated the graphic novel Tantalize: Kieren’s Story, by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick Press, 2011), which is adapted from Cynthia’s novel. Her work has appeared in various anthologies, including Girl Comics: Women of Marvel (Marvel, 2011) and Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology (New Press, 2009).

And here is Ming’s illustration inspired by a scene in Tokyo Heist!

This picture shows a younger version of the narrator. In the story, Violet recalls playing a game called “The Frame Game” with her artist dad. I immediately fell in love with Ming’s picture because it conveys the essence of Violet, how she always views the world with an artist’s eye. As a teen — and a sleuth — her artist’s perspective sometimes works for her and sometimes works against her. But this illustration shows her joy as a child, hanging out with her dad, learning to find art in everyday things.

And now, here’s my interview with Ming!

Q: Tell us about your illustration. Why did you choose to draw this particular scene? 
A: I chose to depict Violet as a kid playing “The Frame Game” with her dad. I found their relationship really intriguing in that Violet may not have felt that she had enough time with or attention from her dad, but she clearly learned to look at the world in unique and creative ways from him.

Q: What are you working on right now? 
A: At the moment I’m finishing up the inks on Eternal: Zachary’s Story, a graphic novel written by Cynthia Leitich Smith and published by Candlewick Press. This is the second book of Cynthia’s I’ve adapted into sequential form. I love her writing; it’s darkly humorous, lushly romantic, and unconventionally supernatural!

Q: How did you go about pursuing art as a career? What kind of education did you have?
A: I’ve always loved drawing and was passionate about it all throughout elementary and middle school, spending my free time sketching the art objects at a local museum and signing up for life drawing classes. When it came time to apply to college, my parents and several of my art teachers encouraged me to look at Cornell University. I loved the combination of Ivy League structure and art school inventiveness. I earned a BFA in painting and drawing, then sort of picked up comics on my own after graduation. I still feel like there’s tons left to learn!

Q: What is the most challenging part of working as an artist?
A: The most challenging is learning how to harness your passion so that you can please editors and clients, not just your own creative spirit.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part?
A: The most rewarding is working with the tools you love best, and just the basic thrill of mark-making.

Ming Doyle, hard at work

Q: In your experience, do people have any misconceptions about artists or the artistic process?
A: I’ve found that many people really do subscribe to the cliche that all artists are flakes with their heads in the clouds, and that art is an easy and instantaneous process. I take my work very seriously, and I usually draw with a frown on my face. Not because I’m unhappy, but because it can be a sort of solemn meditation for me. I work to illuminate manuscripts.

Thank you for exhibiting in the Gallery, Ming, and for coming by to chat!

It’s no mystery where Ming lurks online:
Her website
Her Online Store
Twitter: @mingdoyle

But wait . . . there’s more! A giveaway! A chance to win THREE different prizes!

1. A copy of the graphic novel Tantalize: Kieren’s Story, signed by Ming.

2. A fabulous “Wonder Motif” tote bag decorated with an illustration by Ming, and hand signed by Ming (That could be you carrying the fashionable bag!)

3. A set of Ming’s “Girl Reporter” art prints — perfect for mystery fans! (see below). A sleuth for every day of the week!

Entering is easy – click on the Rafflecopter thingie below (where it says “read more”) and follow the prompts! Contest runs through Monday, may 28, and is open internationally. Three winners will be announced Tuesday, May 29.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hey, thanks for visiting the Tokyo Heist Gallery today! What did you think of Ming’s illustration?