Toano eighth grader forging career in graphic arts thanks to YouTube

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Rock and art rock Ava Dovi's world
Ava Dovi, an eighth-grader at Toano Middle School, taught herself how to draw by watching YouTube videos. This drawing of 80s rocker David Bowie is her favorite. (Photo courtesy Amy Dovi)

Toano Middle School eighth grader Ava Dovi has honed her skills as an artist by watching instructional YouTube videos.

Dovi, 13, began drawing when she was in the first grade, after reading a book with cartoon characters that fascinated her. These days, her drawings have evolved to include portraits of famous athletes and musicians.

“I just think drawing is fun,” Dovi said. “I like to make up my own cartoon characters.”

Dovi, a quiet, shy teen, can be found with a pen and pad in hand daily, sketching in her free time between classes at school, and at home. Instead of enrolling in art classes, she’s discovered
YouTube to be a valuable resource for tutorials on how to draw Japanese anime characters.

“I started watching anime on Netflix, and became obsessed,” Dovi said. “I also always thought
the style was really cool.”

Dovi broadened her sketches to include portraits when she started middle school. Her favorite
band, My Chemical Romance, was an inspiration.

“I really like the band, and I wanted to see if I could draw the band members to make it look like
a photograph,” Dovi said.

Drawing of David Ortiz
In addition to Japanese anime characters, Dovi sketches professional athletes and other icons. (Photo courtesy Amy Dovi).

Family and friends were impressed with Dovi’s talent and began to ask her to draw some of their favorite sports figures and music legends.

Dovi has sketched roughly ten portraits so far, including images of Boston Red Sox baseball player David Ortiz, Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter
Conor McGregor, boxing great Muhammad Ali, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmore, and ’80s music
icon David Bowie.

“My guitar teacher asked me to draw David Gilmore,” Dovi said. “It makes me feel good when people ask me to draw someone for them. I drew David Bowie for myself. It’s my favorite. I
want to frame it.”

It takes Dovi a few days to complete a portrait, depending on how much time she has. Her drawing of Muhammad Ali was auctioned off in a recent fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Ali by Ava Dovi
Dovi is proud that her drawing of boxer Muhammad Ali was auctioned off by the Alzheimer’s Association. (Photo courtesy Amy Dovi).

“I am really proud of myself for that,” she said.

Some of her influences include comic book artist Becky Cloonan, Japanese anime artist Yana Bogatch and illustrator Brandi Milne.

Dovi, an avid guitarist, has been taking weekly lessons for the past six years. She uses YouTube for additional practice. She’s performed a few solo concerts, playing some of her favorite songs by My Chemical Romance.

She also enjoys listening to The Beatles and is thinking about sketching Paul McCartney for her next project.

“Drawing is just very relaxing to me,” Dovi said.

Even though she is only in middle school, Dovi would like to pursue a career as an artist when she grows up.

“I want to be a comic book artist or a graphic designer,” she said. “I hope to continue both comics and realism.”

Her parents have no doubt that she will make it.

“We are blown away by her talent,” said her father, Andrew. “She’s completely self-taught, and
her portraits have really captured the essences of the people in their eyes and their features.”

Read more profiles of local residents in WYDaily’s section In Our Hometown