NCSU student takes home prize in international illustration contest

sbarr@newsobserver.comApril 27, 2014 

— Kristie Kim didn’t have much experience drawing robot battles or imaginary worlds when she looked through a scholarship catalog more than a year ago and noticed a contest for science fiction and fantasy illustrators.

But Kim, 21, decided to give the contest a try, just to see what would happen. She filled out the application, sent in some of her drawings that she thought might be a decent fit, and waited for news from the L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contest.

Finally, she heard back from the contest organizers. Her drawings were far more than decent; they had earned her a top 12 finish in the international contest, $500 and a trip to Los Angeles for a week of illustration workshops.

For Kim, who will graduate from N.C. State University with a degree in design and a minor in animation in May 2015, the trip earlier this month was a chance to see how her passion for art could be put to use in the entertainment world.

“It was just everywhere,” she said.

Kim graduated from Enloe High School in 2010 and has long known that she wanted to make art her career. Her first public exhibit was at the U.S. Capitol Cannon Pedestrian Tunnel from May 2010 to May 2011 after her tempera painting, "The Chase," won first place in the 2010 Congressional Art Show. In 2009, her watercolor painting of magnolias, "Freedom," won the Special Merit Award at the Congressional Art Show.

But she said she wants to find ways to be an environment where she’s constantly connecting with others and sharing ideas, rather than working solo in a studio.

“I always wanted to go into a creative field but not as a traditional artist,” she said. Her interests have shifted from drawing and painting into the digital arts, with the aim of making a career working with others to bring ideas to fruition.

While in California, Kim got to try her hand at understanding someone else’s vision without sacrificing her own ideas when she collaborated with K.C. Norton, a writer participating in the fiction portion of the contest. Kim had to render the worldNorton had created.

Hubbard, the author of science-fiction best-seller “Battlefield Earth” and the founder of Church of Scientology, started the contest to encourage young writers and illustrators. The participants in the contest are not required to have an affiliation with Scientology.

Kim said that, for her, digital art is different than painting or drawing not just because of the different tools or processes, but because she often finds herself thinking differently when working on a computer.

It’s more of an external process, one that has her thinking about how the work will be received and that she hopes will allow for collaboration with many people.

She said the contest left her confident that she will find the right path for her own art.

“It showed that you can do anything,” she said.


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