Three Manga Artists Encapsulate The Japanese Spirit of Lexus

Lexus ES manga by Timothy Kong
Lexus ES manga by Timothy Kong

Lexus cars flee a fire-breathing dragon, pause on a tranquil seashore and escape from an exploding city in a series of new artworks that celebrates the contemporary style and cultural heritage of Japanese manga illustration.

The new images, commissioned by Lexus in the UK, capture the strong influence of Japanese traditions and aesthetics on Lexus cars, depicting some of the brand’s most popular models in comic book adventure style.

Revealed today, the pictures add to this summer’s high-profile cultural focus on manga in the UK, with the British Museum hosting the largest exhibition of the artform yet seen outside Japan, and Japan House in London presenting a show dedicated to the work of Urasawa Naoki, one of its leading practitioners.

The three artists for the Lexus commission are Yishan Li, Timothy Kong and Daniel Atanasov, whose work features respectively the new UX compact SUV, ES saloon and LC coupe.

Lexus UX manga by Yishan Li
Lexus UX manga by Yishan Li

Yishan Li is a self-taught artist whose work has been published internationally in more than 30 comic books. Her interpretation of the UX is inspired by the car’s “New Horizons” tagline and shows a woman sitting on her car by the shore at sunset, relaxing after completing a big creative project. Asked what the most challenging aspect of the work was, she said:

The Car! There are so many precise curves and design elements, they’re a lot harder to draw than characters.

Timothy Kong

Timothy Kong’s work (see main pic) blends manga with Japanese anime and western influences from Old Masters. He has produced a fantastic scene in which a Lexus ES saloon is being driven at speed away from a fire-breathing dragon.

He explained: I chose a dragon to highlight the brave design of Lexus cars. In Japanese culture, dragons are shown to be incredibly powerful and proud creatures that represent courage and strength, and to challenge one is seen to be a brave endeavour.

Lexus LC manga by Daniel Atanasov
Lexus LC manga by Daniel Atanasov

Daniel Atanasov is a Bulgarian-born artist who became fascinated by anime animated films as a child. With a classic background in art, he has gone on to explore and work in a form of manga which focuses on sci-fi, adventure and martial arts. This influence is clear in his depiction of a scarlet Lexus LC coupe with a warrior figure on its roof, set against the backdrop of an exploding city skyline.

This was the first time I had been asked to draw a real car within a piece and make it look like part of a fictional story. The car itself is an autonomous being, but at the same time has a symbiotic relationship with the man. That’s why there is no driver behind the wheel; the car is intelligent, self-driving and reliable.

The official UK Lexus blog is providing more in-depth insights into each artist and their work in a series of features, the first which is available to view now, here.

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Lexus ES manga by Timothy Kong
Three Manga Artists Encapsulate The Japanese Spirit of Lexus
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