At the University of the Arts in Philadelphia the senior illustration students just completed a series of pieces for the Ely competition, the awards for illustration at the university.
I teach Juniors at UArts but enjoy following my former students as they assembled their projects. They work with new instructors that include our very own Matt Curtius and Zina Saunders. Overall the work is very mature. They are required to work on ONE theme, such as posters, book work, editorial or product categories. Sketches are picked over then chosen and deadlines are always looming. As I have come to appreciate the semester long assignment, it does teach them that EVERY assignment should be handled like this. Every painting or drawing should be picked over and created as if a million eyes were going to be on it.
I adore my former students. They are earnest and hard working and I do wish them the best of luck as they graduate and hope to join the ranks of new illustrators. With the recent discussion of students and originality at Drawger, I wanted to make sure these kids were spared too harsh a critique on those grounds. Most have influences and are well aware of them. They are all actively evolving and working to find their own voice. I’m sure they will all find them.
Stephanie Struse took first place in the competition. Her work was the most unique in the show; comprised of beautiful rendering, assembled areas, and text made of felt, sticks and strings. If art directors are looking for someone to make them an illustration that is beautiful and unique, she’s worth remembering.
Alexis Olsen took 4th place. She’s the sharp focused realist in the group. The work is lush and handled with a maturity of a painter with years more experience. She’s a great person with a warm personality. Realism is a tough style to peddle out there but I think she can make it.
Eric Braddock is the painter of the group. His pieces are large and vibrant. Every instructor would love to have a student like Eric. He works so hard and the results are impressive. His brushwork is active and the paintings are energetic. He hopes to be a sci-fi/fantasy illustrator.
Avalon Zimmerman. She’s a designer/illustrator. She is working with Zina Saunders now. Her work is well crafted and when showing it to my wife the loudest exclamation came from viewing one of her pieces. Not to be too redundant, but she is a great person who is completely plugged into being an illustrator. She thinks about her work and what it means and it is that kind of student we all hope for.
This is the illustration that Elizabeth admired most
S. M. Vidaurri is the watercolorist. Among his interest is music and his Ely was about Robert Johnson. S.M. or Shane, thinks sequentially. His palette (right now) is limited and his handling is soft. He can work quickly as well and it is common for one to tell him of an area that needs to be fixed and Shane will repaint the whole thing. Maybe that’s what a watercolorist always does.
Tim Durning. Tim is an intense but quietly witty guy who has great taste and makes smart decisions. Now a student of Zina’s, he is a digital illustrator with drawing as his starting point. His digital stuff is clever and detailed. The dynamic scenes make one think of key scenes in cinematic movies.