50 artists, 100 entries, 2 impressed judges

January 20th, 2011
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This week — except, perhaps, for one day in the near future, when I’ll break away to join this month’s Manga Movable Feast discussion of Karakuri Odette — we’re celebrating young artists here at Otaku Ohana. Specifically, we’re celebrating the work that local teens submitted for last month’s Anime Art Contest, the brainchild of Liliha Library young adult librarian Linda Mediati.

When Linda first e-mailed me about the contest, she also asked if I would be willing to help judge it as well — a request that I was more than happy to accept. My accomplice in assessments was Audra Furuichi, artist of the shuper-cute nemu*nemu. I was thrilled to have her join me to provide a professional artist’s perspective on the work — without her, I’m not sure I could have expressed more than “ooh, pretty.” Besides, she’s already produced four books and a whole line of popular merchandise, whereas my artistic ability on a good day resembles that of the guy who draws xkcd. At stake for the divisional winners (grades 6-7, 8-10, and 11-12) was what you see to the right: Manga-Comic Pro Sketching and Inking sets, Comic and Manga Artist Trading Cards. The grand prize winner would also receive a set of Copic markers.

… at least, that was the theory, anyway. In practice … well. What you see below is what we were faced with: around 100 entries turned in from 50 or so artists from around Oahu … and one from Maui, who Linda allowed into the contest as well.

Several library staffers who popped in to look at the entries as we were circling these tables over and over and over again echoed the same sentiment: “Wow, you guys have to choose out of these? Good luck.

Indeed, it was a difficult task. We even jokingly lamented, “How are we supposed to chooooooooose?” You know how at anime conventions, someone inevitably asks the voice actors, “What’s your favorite role out of all the ones you did?” and they answer, “That’s like asking me to pick who’s the favorite out of my children! I can’t decide!”? Similar situation. But armed with a clipboard and some yummy chocolate-covered cookies — and, for me, my trusty we diligently made our rounds and made note of our favorites. Here are some of my favorites, starting from the entries from sixth and seventh graders.

Where there certainly were a fair share of fan art pieces submitted — as you can see by the drawing of Goku below and to the right, as well as the fragment of a Bleach piece that we’ll get back to in a little bit — I was pleased to see a number of pieces that looked like they were original characters — for example, this trio of portraits that look like they could come from a fully fleshed out manga down the line. (Didn’t get the name of the artist who did these, sorry.)

… although there was also this drawing of Calvin by Jin Hao Lin. And that’s perfectly fine, too.

Emily Tashiro did both of these pieces below, but Audra in particular liked the one on the left, “Practicing His Sword Skills,” for the soft white line effects that you can see when you look closely at the picture and really study it.

We move next to the table with the work from students in grade 8 to 10 … and to be honest, while Audra and I picked a winner for the grade 6-7 division reasonably quickly, this was where things really started getting difficult. For starters, Kira-Ann Hayashi turned in this cute piece that I liked for its Hawaiian flavor.

Since this was a Liliha Library art contest, it’s only natural that we should feature a Liliha Library-based art piece, this one drawn by freshman Diandrea Sagisi-Buxton.

The bottom trio of pieces in this next shot came from Simone Lai Shinde. My particular favorite: the piece in the middle of the frame, “Fireflies,” for its color scheme and delicate line work. At top is a piece by Erica Machida.

Sufficiently awed, we made our way to the final table, the 11th and 12th grade division, where we were immediately confronted with art like these two pieces from Kaci Takara. And we commenced being blown away once more. One of the things I love about anime-inspired art is how artists take traditional fantasy tropes and add a certain Asian flavor and elegance to it, making the images pop off the page.

It’s a style we saw over and over again, like in this piece from Schyler Lai Shinde …

…or these pieces below from Jhonalyn Cuestas. And quite frankly, it never gets old.

We thought some of the best work on this table, however, came from Chery Wong. While many of the other entrants used more traditional media (pens, pencils, markers) and some also used digital media for their work, Chery’s entries looked like they were done using watercolors. We based our awards on single pieces, but if we could take more than one piece into account, the two in the foreground definitely would have been considered.

And then there was this piece, which I particularly liked because … well … it’s Earthbound. And everyone loves Earthbound. Except, perhaps, for whatever powers that be that are preventing it — and other games in the series — from being re-released stateside. Meanies. (Also didn’t catch the name of the artist on this one, sorry.)

In the end, we couldn’t just reward one grand prize winner and three divisional winners. We also picked several honorable mentions and added stuff to the prize pot — I donated some extra review copies of anime, while Audra enlisted the help of Kawaii Kon to contribute T-shirts. The grand prize winner’s package grew to include some other things from Kawaii Kon and myself as well.

Here are the divisional winners:

Grades 6-7: Nicole Nguyen, “Bleach in Hawaii” (shown with the honorable mention, Jasmine Wong’s untitled Pokemon piece.)

Grades 8-10: Madeline Bess, “My Faves Fan Art.”

Grades 11-12: Chery Wong, “Folding Cranes.”

And the honorable mentions:

Grade 8-10: Joelle Takayama, “On the Roof.”

Grade 8-10: Marin Yoshino, “Miimii Works.”

Grade 11-12: Kimberly Ing, “FairyTale Tea Party.”

Grade 11-12: Schyler Lai Shinde, “Monster Hunter.”

Which leaves us with the grand prize winner, whom you met for the first time in Cel Shaded today — Kamehameha-Maui sophomore Kaili Mossman. Her work really stood out from the moment we started arranging the various entries on the table. Several of her pieces could have taken the grand prize, really, but only one could be The One.

Check back here tomorrow, when I’ll have an expanded interview with Kaili as well as additional samples of her work. Because it’s just that good.

2 Responses to “50 artists, 100 entries, 2 impressed judges”

  1. Tweets that mention Hawaii News - Staradvertiser.com -- Topsy.com:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Audra Furuichi and Jason S. Yadao, M. Olivarez. M. Olivarez said: RT @jsyadao: And in Otaku Ohana, see some of the pretty, pretty art that @kyubikitsy and I got to evaluate: http://bit.ly/dYrxIB [...]


  2. Hawaii News - Staradvertiser.com:

    [...] already seen the talent displayed by the students in middle and high school who entered the Liliha Library Anime Art Contest, and now there’s another collection of talent on display: the local anime- and manga-inspired [...]


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