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Illustration Grad Draws Recognition as Poster Artist for Top Competition

Making it to the top three percent of student illustrators in the country is quite an accomplishment, but for recent Academy of Art University School of Illustration graduate Ben Jelter, that was just the beginning. Chosen out of almost 6,000 submissions for the 2008 Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Competition, Ben’s poster Dots garnered the coveted Norma and Alvin Pimsler award, and now serves as the official poster for the competition.

Hailing all the way from Oslo, Norway, Ben chose sunny California as the place to make his dreams come true. After a brief period at another school, Ben decided to pursue a degree in Illustration at Academy of Art University. “I think that developing art skills takes critical thinking and problem solving skills that most people don’t have and rewards them with a much greater sense of achievement,” explained Ben on why he chose to study at the Academy.

Ben’s number one priority during his training at the Academy was to find his unique voice as an artist.  “I realized that my art was getting very far from what I wanted to do.  It took a lot of hard work to get back to my identity, but it paid off because I was recognized by the Academy and the Society of Illustrators for my efforts.”

Inspired by illustration instructor, Bill Sanchez, Ben became determined to “stop being neurotic and just make art.”  This ultimately became Ben’s motto. It also turned out to be the secret to his success. His work was featured at Academy of Art University’s Annual Spring Show where he won Best of Sequential Art award and had the opportunity to meet and greet many top industry art directors.

Since graduation, Ben has continued to focus on making the kind art that speaks to him naturally.  He has self-published numerous comics and finished his graphic novel The Tumor. According to Ben, “The greatest accomplishment [for me] is doing what I know will be good rather than what I think is expected of me.”

To all current Academy students, Ben shared a piece of hard earned advice. “Remember that art isn’t just showing how good your technical skills are but showing your originality as well.”


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