WOW. Hollywood. What a week!
I want to share a little bit about what I got to do as a finalist and grand prize winner in the 31st L. Ron Hubbard Illustrators of the Future Contest. If you’d like to read their overview, they recorded the week on their blog. This is my experience.
So, it was my first time in an airplane, my first time on the west coast, my first time winning an international contest, etc. There were a lot of firsts. The best part was getting to know these contestants from around the world. We had people from Poland, New Zealand, Korea, China, Australia, and many other places, United States besides. It was awesome to see how flawlessly all these cultures blended together under one common goal: to make a living doing what we love.
I got to work with people from Author Services and Galaxy Press. (MAN they work hard. Kudos guys, it was amazing and you should be so proud of yourselves for how many lives you have changed.) They helped us build confidence in ourselves by giving us the validation we craved. It means so much to a budding artist or writer when someone acknowledges that we have what it takes, and to get that acknowledgement from outside our circle of friends or university is a true blessing. It also helps when returning home, because I’m sure we all felt like war heroes after walking out of our respective airports.
I touched LA ground on Tuesday the 7th, and took off for Philly on Tuesday the 14th. The week was packed with activities organized for us. They handed us a schedule with all these times and descriptions, which for all intents and purposes read like a college syllabus. Industry professionals came in to speak at our workshops, give advice, and critique our work. I learned from many artists, including book cover artist Cliff Nielsen, Star Wars artist Dave Dorman, previous winner Sergey Poyarkov, and Dungeons and Dragons artist Larry Elmore. Everyone was so friendly and encouraging. They really cared about our success, and it showed in their presentations.
On top of the workshops, there were other activities. There was the illustration reveal day, when the writers were brought in to see the artwork for their stories. It was so gratifying – tears were shed and hugs were made! The trip to Cliff Nielsen’s studio was fantastic too (he illustrated two of my favorite books I read as a teen, so I was totally geeking out). We also got to visit Bang Printing, to see our Volume 31 come hot off the press. That was so cool! Now it is available for preorder online, and will be officially released on Star Wars Day, May 4th. I encourage you to read and review, for the awesome stories and art!
The dinner and gala at the end of the week was just icing on the cake. We had no idea who the grand prize winner would be, so it was a true shock, especially after giving the first speech as a finalist. Don’t believe me? Watch the video clip! You can also watch the full event too. It was super fun.
Since the end of my week, I’ve been getting some much-appreciated press about my win and my work. So far I’ve done 2 radio interviews, have had at least 3 stories written on my grand prize win, and my video clips are on Youtube. I even have a book signing in Philadelphia coming up!
The best part, though, is coming back to school and organizing my senior show, knowing that I am indeed heading down the right path, as I see my work finally up on the wall. It feels good to be home with my fire ignited anew.
Bring it ON, graduation!