Michelle Lockamy, a senior Illustration major and Business minor, won the Illustrators of the Future Grand Prize award on April 12 at the 31st annual L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Awards at the prestigious Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles, California.
Lockamy received the Golden Brush Award trophy and a cash prize of $5,000 for three illustrations she submitted. The international contest is designed for new and amateur sci-fi and fantasy artists to be published for the first time and launch their professional careers. The gala event is held before a packed audience of over 1,000 guests and hundreds more from around the world who were logged on to watch the event as it streamed live.
“I saw the contest online and decided to enter it,” Lockamy said. “I’m always hunting for ways to get my work out there. At the time, I didn’t really know how big the prize was. And then after learning I was a finalist, I did all this research and realized it was way bigger than I thought!”
Lockamy was flown to Hollywood to attend a week-long series of workshops with some of the premier names in speculative fiction illustration. The week culminated with the L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Awards, celebrating the annual winners in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future contests.
“Throughout the week I took a lot of notes and we heard a lot of different perspectives from different types of artists,” she said. “I was familiar with a lot of the content they spoke about, which means my professors are doing a very good job here. It’s one thing to learn in the classroom, but to hear from professors outside of school saying similar things…it’s a good feeling.”
Lockamy, in addition to being one of the twelve illustrator winners making it further than some several thousand others who entered the international competition, also captured the overall grand prize, which includes her illustration being published in the bestselling science fiction anthology series – L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 31. The anthology is available online at Amazon.com, Kobo.com and BN.com, and will be in book stores next month.
This year marks the silver anniversary for the Illustrators of the Future Contest as it celebrates 25 years of recognizing the work of aspiring artists, many of whom have since gone on to successful careers in the field of visual arts. The Writers of the Future writing contest was initiated by L. Ron Hubbard in 1983 to provide a means for aspiring writers to get that much-needed break. Due to the success of the Writing Contest, the companion Illustrators of the Future Contest was created in 1988.
Lockamy, of Browns Mill, NJ, said that receiving the award is a great way to start her professional career. She had been drawing for as long as she can remember. She realized she wanted to be an artist after taking an Advanced Placement art class during her senior year of high school. There, she got her first Wacom tablet and was introduced to digital tools as a medium. She also taught herself Photoshop.
When she came to Moore, she realized that illustration was her calling. “I thought I’d be a fine artist at first, but I liked illustration because my work could appear on things, instead of just being on a wall,” she said. “As a kid I liked making little books, so it seemed to apply.”
She chose to attend Moore because of its small size and the sense of community. She liked that she could talk to her teachers and they knew her name. She also thought that attending an all women’s college would also be less of a distraction.
Her work has made it into Cred Philly, an art and design magazine, and onto a few indie book covers (the series The Last Light by Alex Villavasso). But winning the Illustrators of the Future Grand Prize award and being included in the Writers of the Future anthology (she was paired with a writer and illustrated her story) was a very big deal, she said.
“It was a complete surprise to win the grand prize. I had no indication it was going to happen at all. I hope it will give me more publicity so more people are aware of my work and my brand. It’s a good accomplishment to put on my resume and I’m really happy it happened now because I’m just about to graduate.”
Lockamy is determined to hit the ground running after commencement. She wants to work in publishing and create book covers and children’s illustrations in the fantasy genre. A freelance illustrator, she already has several clients and has her own website.
Having the business minor as a backup has benefited Lockamy as she launches her brand. “I thought it would complement my major really well because they really emphasize that as an illustrator, you’re a business,” she said. “I thought it would help me run my freelance business and so far it has helped a lot.”
Lockamy will present her business plan to the Moore community on May 1 as one of several students participating in the inaugural Emerging Entrepreneur’s Business Plan Prize Competition, generously sponsored by Your Part-Time Controller and an anonymous donor. The competition recognizes and celebrates the importance of business planning to successful careers in the arts through innovative thinking.
In addition to the business plan competition, Lockamy’s illustrations will be showcased in the Market Street window of the Century 21 Department Store in June and July in conjunction with the store’s swimsuit fashions.
Among her other achievements, Lockamy received the Moore College Board Scholarship and the Dorothy Tomkins Warner '29 Endowed Illustration Scholarship. Her artwork was selected for the large banners hanging on the front of Moore’s building in 2014.
Visit here for more information and to view the awards ceremony online.