Skip to main content
Awards and Achievements

Design Student Reflects on Winning Entry in National Competition

Hansen’s winning piece “Scale the Globe with Help from the Gilman Scholarship” was chosen as one of 300 winners from 8,700 submissions

Maria Hansen — an illustration senior in the BYU Department of Design — recently had her work included in the Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Competition. Her winning piece “Scale the Globe with Help from the Gilman Scholarship” is a poster illustration that promotes international education. “I was inspired by the disordered mental state in which I found myself after my four months studying abroad in South Korea,” said Hansen. “I knew this experience had changed me, but whenever anyone asked me about it, I couldn’t articulate how. It was like trying to make sense of all the pieces on a detective board. This image informed my initial ideas for the piece that made it into the competition, a young woman traversing a map of the world with her pushpins and red string.” Hansen completed her illustration submission during a senior studio class, under the direction of BYU illustration professor David Habben who helped Hansen formulate her project in a way that would be conducive for her portfolio while still challenging her. Every year students in the Department of Design are encouraged by administrators and faculty members to enter competitions. Students in the illustration emphasis are especially encouraged to enter the Society of Illustrators, which is one of the most prestigious professional and student illustration competitions in the nation. Over 300 works were chosen from the 8,700 entries submitted by college-level students nationwide. From the 2,278 students who participated, Maria was one of the 300 selected for her illustration. This is the second time in two years that pieces made by BYU illustration students placed in the competition.

“Making it into the competition and subsequently being featured in the online gallery with the other 300 students from across the nation was a duly humbling and confidence-boosting experience,” noted Hansen. “While I won’t make competitions like this the foundation of my self-assurance as an artist, it was a sign to me from God that I can create work I love that resonates with and inspires other people.” The Society of Illustrators is well known for kick-starting careers. Students who enter bring their most sophisticated, well-crafted and original work to be tested. A jury of professional peers, including illustrators and art directors, selects the most outstanding works created throughout the year. Pieces are accepted based on the quality of technique, concept and skill of medium used. “My experience in South Korea as an illustration student was a journey and an adventure, and it continues to inform my life in ways I am still discovering,” Hansen said. “I hope others can find opportunities to learn abroad and discover those unexpected connections for themselves. I am looking forward to creating future inspiring work about international education, diversity, adventure, and many wonderful stories from around the world.” Maria Hansen will be graduating from BYU with a BFA in illustration and minor in Korean December 2020. She is currently working on her capstone project and will be pursuing a career as an illustrator for book covers and magazines. You can see more from her portfolio at