From more than 2,100 submissions from 72 colleges nationwide, Ringling College of Art + Design’s illustration senior Jamie Green took home the prestigious Zankel Scholarship, awarded recently at a ceremony in New York City.


This is the 11th year the award has been presented by the Society of Illustrators in memory of Arthur Zankel, whose generous bequest made this scholarship possible. It is presented annually to the best-of-the-best junior class illustrators from across America, so the $10,000 award might support the winner’s senior year of college.


Jamie, who learned that she was a Zankel finalist while hiking the Appalachian Trail, said her jaw dropped when she heard the news. “My friend Inka Schultz left me a congratulatory message, and then I received an email from our department chair, Scott Gordley, telling me ‘We knew you could do it.’”


Jaime came home, prepared her portfolio, and left for New York City. With her two fellow finalists, Zach Wendt, from the College for Creative Studies, and Alexandra Smith, from The University of the Arts, she attended a formal dinner that first evening at the Society of Illustrators with the event judges and the society’s board of directors.

Following dinner, the three illustrators went back to the hotel where they checked out each other’s sketchbooks and portfolios, and talked well into the night. “I was impressed, intimidated and inspired,” Jamie said. “We all agreed that no matter who won, we were all lucky to have made new friends.”


The next day, the three artists met at the Society of Illustrators where they set up their portfolios and were individually interviewed by the judges. Jamie, who is an extrovert by nature, felt her interview went well. When the judges asked what illustration meant to her, she replied, “It is me. It’s an extension of who I am.” One thing that surprised her was when the judges later told her that what impressed them the most was a last-minute addition to her portfolio, a booklet she had made for her dad on Father’s Day. Not as polished as the other pieces in her portfolio, it was the emotion of the piece that captivated the judges.


When Education Chair Melanie Reim announced she had won, Jamie described the moment as surreal. “I was so happy and so proud in that moment, though I also felt for my two new friends.”


In the short term, she says, the scholarship will help her parents financially as she begins her senior year at Ringling College of Art + Design. But in the long-term? “Confidence is the biggest thing I have taken away from this whole experience. That, and some amazing new professional connections.


As she begins working on her thesis, the words of the Zankel Scholarship judges will have a lasting impact. “I will not feel that everything has to be quite so polished,” she said. “I will always try to keep a bit of the “crunchiness,” in my art, keeping things a little loose, a little bit wonky – being true to who I am,” she said.


A native Floridian who grew up in Melbourne, FL, Jamie says “I have been drawing since I could physically hold a crayon.” However, it was in middle school and high school that she began thinking of art as a career, a step “that kind of polluted my art,” she says. “I had to find my heart again.”


She came to Ringling College after attending the pre-college program, which she calls one of the greatest experiences of her life. “It was very intensive, but I came home and told my parents Ringling was where I needed to go.” Following the disappointment not getting into a gallery show at the end of her sophomore year, Jaime said “something snapped” and she started creating pieces that made her happy and brought joy to others.


“I have learned I am half-woman, half-child, wearing one sneaker and one stiletto,” she said. And as she moves forward toward a career in illustration and contemporary motion design, one thing is certain. This young artist now has the confidence to move mountains.    


Gayle Guynup / Content Connection

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