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Mercer Artist: Lucas Newell

How one Mercer student is spending his semester in the land of the rising sun

Courtesy of Lucas Newell

"The picture I drew on the plane ride to Japan with my new friends in the background."

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There’s Another Dead Artist in Japan these days. His name is Lucas Newell.

He’s actually very much alive.

Newell is a sophomore at Mercer University studying International Business and Fine Arts. As of December, Newell’s art is the only possession of his that remains at Mercer.

He’s spending the next six months in studying history, culture, art and Japanese in Fukuoka, Japan.

Newell said that he didn’t think studying abroad was going to be a possibility, but somehow, he managed to slip into Mercer’s exchange program two months past the deadline.

Japan wasn’t a random choice. In looking at Newell’s art, the influence of Japanese ideas and techniques on his work becomes readily apparent.

He’s very up-front about the influence. Newell is keeping a blog throughout his experience, and in his first post explaining his adventure, he admits that he used to be a self-proclaimed weeaboo, someone who idealizes Japanese culture and anime.

He said it all started with the original Pokemon.

Now, Newell said that as he got older, his interest in Japan sharpened and matured, along with his drawing ability.

“I found a teacher that made me improve by leaps and bounds in a short amount of time and found out that there was nothing I’d ratherdo more than draw,” Newell said in a Facebook message.

Newell kept doodling. He also kept watching anime. He developed a deeper love for sequential art, graphics and illustration and said that he’s always thinking of new character concepts and storylines. His sketchbooks are overflowing with color, inspired oftentimes by the shows that he’s watching.

  • "The picture I drew on the plane ride to Japan with my new friends in the background." (Courtesy of Lucas Newell)
  • "This is a mix of all the international students this semester and a bunch of Seinan Gakuin students." (Courtesy of Lucas Newell)
  • "This is me and my buddy, Erik, warming our hands with coffee from a vending machine. Vending machines here in Japan will warm certain drinks for you, making them indispensable during the cold winter." (Courtesy of Lucas Newell)
  • "This is a typical residential area in Fukuoka. Tiny roads, but very homely and fun to walk through." (Courtesy of Lucas Newell)
  • "This is a painting of my team for the international student welcome event. The kanji is "tori" which translates to "chicken" or "bird." We got second, but only because we had some bad luck." (Courtesy of Lucas Newell)

Newell said that one of his favorite shows is an anime called Usagi Drop.

The whole show is the process of this genuine guy dealing with all the difficulties of being a father and all the responsibilities that come with it,” Newell said. “It’s really touching and gorgeously animated with a watercolor style palette.”

One of his favorite characters in anime is an individual named Tomoya Okazaki from a show called Clannad. Newell said that as a perfectionist, Okazaki’s persistence and resilience inspire him.

“I would always mentally beat myself down whenever I made a mistake in school, at home, while drawing, etc. However, that’s a dangerous route to continue down, because it often manifests in depression and the like, and that’s why I think Okazaki’s persistence even when everything goes wrong inspired me as a young teen,” Newell said.

He said that through watching Clannad, he not only learned about techniques he could try, but he found a new way to approach his art.

“Whenever I make a mistake, I find two things I did right,” he said. “Then I go over the mistake and fix it if I can. If it’s not possible, then I try to do better the next time. Same with my content. I try new things. Draw different emotions,” he said. “I try to evoke a feeling of hope with my pictures. Even if it may seem dark, there’s always a light that can be found. It’s a process, and a long one, but far more rewarding in the end than perfectionism.”

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Mercer Artist: Lucas Newell