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Illustrators battle in timed competitions By Ko Maruyama
On Saturday night, over 700 people packed into a location adjacent to Echo Park to check out a new design contest.  Fueled by an interest in the new concept of an illustration battle, and moved to the mad beats as DJ Blockhead spins them into a frenzy, 8 designers sat behind computers and try to capture the essence of a theme in record time.

Eight contestants, Elvis Segarich, Sasha Welland, PJ Richardson, Michael Coleman, Man Hi Park, Jim Darling, and April Carter Grant hadn't participated in a timed contest like this before - and with good reason.

James Kim, Justin Kim and John Fiorelli are the directors of Cut and Paste.  Each with a background in illustration, video, music, they are each artists, as well as founders of this project.

The Cut and Paste Competition and After Party was spawned only a year ago, in November 2005.  A few friends were sitting around a New York apartment, when the idea came them: to create a competition where artists could challenge themselves and each other, to hold an event where many could be invited to watch, to listen to music, to have a good time, and at the same time, build a community of artists.

Although most of the contestants came from all over the country, these Southern Californian artists all gravitated to Illustrator.  It was no surprise that the artwork produced was mainly Adobe Illustrator, vector work.

While they all praised Illustrator, some hadn't had the chance to use the Creative Suite version yet, and were surprised by the changes that Adobe had made to the software.    Some contestants started out early, taking advantage of the ability to use photographs in their work.  Dennis Gomez, whose recent work includes album art for Black Eyed Peas' "Monkey Business", destroyed a laptop on stage in order to get the right photograph element.   

PJ Richardson photographed a series of Christmas ornaments, capturing reflections of the crowd and contest to include in his entry.

In the end it boiled down to two contestants, Elvis Segarich and Jim Darling.

Elvis, who grew up in San Pedro, CA has been designing for Volcom, noting that he makes sure to take time to skate.    Although Elvis' skills in Adobe Illustrator are unquestionable, he has been getting back to hand-drawn elements lately, creating trims and hang tags for himself and the company.  You can see his work at

At the end of the night, it was Jim Darling who took it all.  Jim Darling is a freelance designer, who will probably entertain a lot of attention after this competition.  Although originally from Denver, Jim moved to Los Angeles and has created work for clients such as Boost Mobile and PS3.   A true illustrator, using pens and ink, Jim traded out the bic for the wacom stylus this night, and it paid off.

Jim's illustration pieces were strong from the beginning.  With fluid movement, Jim created the pieces quickly, allowing himself time to consider what else, if anything, needed to be done.  The judges noted specifically that Jim not only had great illustrator skills, but his ability to quickly embody the them of the round in his piece allowed him time to concentrate on the details.

Judges included Buff Monster, Emit (The Firm Graphics), Roger Gastman (Swindle Magazine), Andy Mueller (Lakai Limited), and Eric Nakamura (Giant Robot).

You can still catch the next show of Cut and Paste Tournament and After Party in San Francisco this Saturday, November 18, 2006.    You can check them out online at

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:illustrators, designers, graphic competition, cut and paste, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, DJ Blockhead

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