Five BYU Illustration Students Were Accepted into the Society of Illustrators’ 2022 Student Scholarship Competition
BYU was ranked highly among other art schools across the country in 2022. According to Animation Career Review, BYU is ranked as the top illustration school in Utah and the southwest, and was ranked in the top 10% of the 50 best illustration schools in the country, placing at number 14.
With such high rankings, it is no surprise that students in the illustration program excel outside the classroom as well. Among the more than 8,700 entries for the Society of Illustrators’ 2022 Student Scholarship Competition only about 300 were accepted. Of those accepted entries, five were illustrated by BYU students. Meet the artists — Audrey Day, Jaymie Johnson, Simona Love, Audrey Morgan and Samantha Windley — and learn about the stories behind their work.
Audrey Day | “Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Old Clock” (Digital)
Day has been drawing for as long as she can remember. In second grade, Day and her friends wrote a book about a magical island of horses and she was the illustrator. Day wants to continue to illustrate books for children and young adults, as well as publish her own. She also hopes to start her own academic art studio or teach as an illustration professor. “For me, illustration has the perfect balance of artistic experimentation and practical design thinking,” said Day. “As soon as I knew you could combine art and stories, I knew I would be an illustrator.”
Day’s entire graduating portfolio, including her submission to the competition, was an homage to Nancy Drew. Day said, “Reading ‘Nancy Drew’ books as a young girl, I fell in love with the mysteries, characters and Nancy's commanding femininity.” Day’s illustration for the cover of “The Secret of the Old Clock” was one of the first pieces Day made that “felt both commercial and 100% authentic to me.”
Jaymie Johnson | “泳げない! (Oyogenai!)” (Digital)
Johnson’s submission “Oyogenai!” was originally an assignment for class; she asked her mother what her favorite haiku was so that she could illustrate it in a traditional medium. Johnson was intrigued by the absurdism in classic Japanese media and wanted to experiment with classic Japanese art and comedy styles.
“Oyogenai!” was also inspired by Johnson’s family history, current studies and favorite book as a kid. Johnson said, “What I ended up with — a frog barely holding on — doesn’t just maintain that quiet environment described in the poem more successfully; it adds depth to it by underscoring Basho’s tranquility with the sheer terror of the frog, who does not want to jump in.”
Ultimately, Johnson hopes to connect others through design and help them tell the stories that matter to them most. “I love getting intense reactions — be they happy, sad or shocked — to my work,” said Johnson. “Those interactions are what keep me illustrating.”
See more of Johnson’s work on her portfolio website.
Simona Love | “Vampire’s Kitchen” (Digital)
Love, an aspiring color key artist and colorist, was born in Moscow, Russia, where she received five years of academic training in fine arts. She originally came to BYU for the award-winning animation program. “I eventually realized that visual development appealed more to me and I switched to illustration so that I could focus on working with colors and light,” said Love. When she researched which universities were best for color key artists, she found a website that revealed that she was already there. “This is how I knew I was where I was supposed to be.”
Love’s work is popular online and she has over 30,000 followers on her illustration Instagram page. Her piece “Vampire’s Kitchen” is part of a bigger story that she has been creating concept art for. “It is a story about a teen vampire who is breaking his society's stereotypes by being who he is,” Love said. “It’s also a love story between him and a river mermaid.”
Audrey Morgan | “First it’s the robots taking our jobs, now it’s the aliens taking our houses.” (Digital)
Morgan is going into her senior year in the illustration program and has been interested in art for as long as she can remember. Once she came to BYU, she decided she wanted to make a career out of it. “My dream career is something fun and fulfilling. I'm still figuring out what that means for me,” said Morgan.
Morgan’s surprise submission to the competition — submitted by her professor rather than herself — was her final project for an environmental design class, a piece titled “First it’s the robots taking our jobs, now it’s the aliens taking our houses.” Morgan’s artwork was loosely inspired by the picture book “Tuesday,” by David Wiesner, and she said, “The nighttime illustrations in ‘Tuesday’ have a really cool ambiance that I've always wanted to try and recreate.”
See more of Morgan’s work on her Instagram.
Samantha Windley | “Noble Thornbill Book Cover” (Digital)
Windley was surprised to learn that her piece got accepted into the competition, especially since she didn’t submit it. Her professor Melissa Crowton submitted it for her, and Windley said, “I’m so grateful to her for believing in my work enough to help me get it out there for other people to enjoy as well.”
Windley hopes to be able to write and illustrate her own children’s books one day. She and her husband have been working on a story called “Noble Thornbill” about a hummingbird knight competing in jousting competitions using his beak. “We thought of the idea while watching hummingbirds in my parents’ backyard fight each other off of the hummingbird feeder to guard it for themselves,” said Windley. “We hope to write and publish the full story one day and share Thornbill with the world.”
These students’ acceptance into the Society of Illustrators’ 2022 Student Scholarship Competition is a testament to their hard work and dedication in one of the country’s top illustration programs. They expressed gratitude for their professors Melissa Crowton, David Habben and Justin Kunz and to the friends and family who have supported them.