Japanese teen whose chalkboard art went viral gets an art commission before a high school diploma

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A while back, we took a look at an amazing piece of artwork by student and Twitter user Rena Rena. Almost finished with her last year of high school, Rena realized her opportunities to indulge in youthful abandon were about to become that much scarcer, so she grabbed a piece of chalk and drew an amazing scene of Frozen’s Elsa standing on a snowy mountaintop.

Two months later, it looks like Rena’s life has indeed become so busy that she has no time for such ambitious amateur chalkboard art projects. On the bright side, that’s because she’s now doing professional chalkboard art, having been commissioned to create the cover to the newest book from one of Japan’s most celebrated fantasy authors.

Even if you’re not an avid reader of Japanese literature, you may have some experience with the works of Miyuki Miyabe. A recipient of both the Naoki and Yamamoto Shugoro Prizes, the Tokyo native has had a handful of her works adapted to TV and film. Among her titles best known to Western audiences is Brave Story, a 2003 fantasy novel that served as the basis for an anime theatrical feature, manga, and video games.

Publisher Kadokawa is just about to release Miyabe’s newest book, The Castle of Kingdom Gone (Sugisarishi Okoku no Shiro in Japanese). Amazon Japan describes the novel as centered on a pair of middle school students who come across a mysterious sketching of an old castle, and discover they can enter its world by adding pictures of themselves to the drawing.

Between Miyabe’s renown and Kadokawa’s financial resources, they probably could have taken their pick of artists for the novel’s cover, and the pick they made was Rena.

View image on Twitter

As Rena revealed in this tweet, she’s landed a professional project even before leaving high school. While her Frozen fan art was lighting up social media, it caught the attention of Kadokawa’s executives, who decided “Her art would be perfect for Miyabe’s new book,” and approached the teen to formally offer her the position of cover artist.

▼ Kadokawa tweeted this side-by-side comparison of Rena’s inadvertent job application and the drawing she made for The Castle of Kingdom Gone.


View image on Twitter

And here’s how the final cover will look.

View image on Twitter

Amazon Japan is currently taking preorders here for the book, which is priced at 1,728 yen (US$15) and scheduled for release on April 24. Ordinarily, we’d say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but as for judging this cover itself, it’s an awesome piece of artwork, and perhaps just the first step in Rena’s budding artistic career.

With adult responsibilities looming, Japanese teen lets loose with epic Frozen chalkboard art

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RocketNews 24:

With winter break over, students in Japan are looking at a straight shot with no major breaks until the end of the school year in spring. For teens in their third and final year of high school, that means it’s almost time to take the big step of going off to college or finding a job, both of which mean probably having to cut back on silly hijinks.

That’s why when one Japanese 12th grader found an empty classroom, she couldn’t resist the temptation to let loose with youthful exuberance, especially since she knew it might be one of her last chances to do so. She didn’t take advantage of the lack of adult supervision to vandalize the school, though, but decided to beautify it with some awesome Frozen chalkboard art instead.

Earlier this week, as she walked towards the gate on her way home from school, Twitter user Rena Rena realized she’d left something in the classroom. Heading back to retrieve it, she looked at the big, empty blackboard, and figured that with classes done for the day, no one was going to mind if she used it.

Especially not if she was going to create something this amazing.

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▲ “I realized I don’t have much more time left as a high school student, so when I went back to get something I’d forgotten, I went a little nuts drawing on the blackboard. Really had a fun time.”

One of the drawbacks to chalkboard art (aside from the difficulty in working with the medium, of course), is that the dark background and powdery nature of the chalk itself can make the end result look dark and wispy. Neither of those is a problem, though, when you’re drawing snow queen Elsa on a snowy, windblown mountaintop as she creates her magical ice castle in the middle of the night.

Rena Rena says the whole thing took three hours from start to finish, which leaves us impressed by both her commitment and talent, since we don’t think we could have done half as good a job with twice as much time. Japanese Internet commenters were similarly blown away, saying that it’s going to be a shame when the teacher has to erase the mural at the start of the next class.

But while it may have been the fleeting nature of youth that compelled Rena Rena to grab a piece of chalk and start drawing, this doesn’t have to be the end of her artistic career. One commenter asked if she was planning to enroll in art school after graduation, and while we’re not sure whether or not that meshes with her higher education plans, it definitely looks like she’s got the talent if that’s the path she wants to take.