In 2021 we had an influx of amazing young artists submitting art for the NextGen Artists Awards Competition. Talented global youth submitted in multiple age categories ranging from 6 years old to 25 years old. Our judges were absolutely blown away by the amount of talent they witnessed. Gabriella Torres of British Columbia, Canada was one of the artists being judged. She heard candid advice from all three of our qualified judges. We decided to document her point of view (POV). Read the interview highlighting why she entered and what has changed in her life since she won 1st place in the 19-25 age category.
Gaby, why did you enter the NextGen Artists Awards?
I wanted to see where my paintings could go, I wanted to see for myself that my paintings held meaning for other people. I first saw a post on Instagram about the NexGen Artist Award, and I remember skipping it and thinking “no, no, no art competition”. But, the post kept appearing on my screen so I gave in and clicked on the link and read about it. What really got me to apply for this specific award was the fact that the online page said that there was going to be feedback on the piece. Eventually I decided that the worst that can happen is that I do not get selected, and I really wanted to see a stranger look at my work and step outside my circle of people.
What has changed since you won?
It was definitely a boost in my ego, in the best way possible. It motivated me to think of my art as a possibility and something more than just a hobby. I updated my Instagram Bio, putting my achievements, starting with the NextGen Award, and I have had people commenting on it, and on my art, congratulating me. It’s really nice when you get recognition on your art. It is like being a proud parent.
What is the most valuable thing you walked away with from becoming a winner?
I guess the most valuable thing is that my art is valued to an extent. Especially having strangers talk about my art without knowing me personally let me know that the people around me- family, peers and friends- liked my art not because it was mine but because the art piece itself held some sort of meaning to them as well.
Will you eventually be selling your art?
I would like to eventually sell my art, I first need to learn to price my art appropriately. I think one of the hardest, for me personally, is that selling my art seems a little nasty, so I have trouble pricing my art appropriately taking into consideration time and expense. I also have trouble detaching myself from a piece. The pieces that I presented for this award are part of a bigger piece, II still have questions that I need to resolve about the whole series before I feel detached from them.
Do you plan to continue pursuing art?
Art will always be with me and I will make sure it makes part of my future work. I’ll lose my sanity otherwise!
Did you value the judges' feedback?
I definitely did, especially since they had never seen my art before. Hearing them talking about the pieces was really satisfying knowing that I could convey a message. Also the suggestions and references that were mentioned are definitely something that I still keep in mind. There was a comment about how things are set up in the scene that leads the viewer to create a narrative; this comment definitely made me more conscious about it, even though I still go with my instinct. Every now and again I’ll make sure I question myself on the narrative and whether I’ll be following the plot if I was a stranger, which also means that I’ll post more progress photos on different platforms to hear what others think about my piece so far.
What was your biggest takeaway from the competition?
I am now more conscious of the scene in my painting, making sure that it creates a narrative. Also, and what I think to be the most important to me right now, was to get strangers to talk about my painting. Winning was definitely very exciting and shocking, but having strangers talking about my paintings and reacting to it without any previous background is really rewarding because it allowed me to see what others saw on the painting; and it let me know that I was good. That I was delivering a message and the message was getting to people. I was so happy when the judges were talking about it and it lined up with my thoughts and intentions. This was an amazing experience, and I am really glad I clicked on the instagram post to learn more about the NextGen Artist Award.
We, at NextGen are invested in helping art artists grow and feel confident to pursue their dreams. It warms our heart to read that our art competition is valued and that the youth learn something from the professional advice they hear from the seasoned judges. Wishing all our candidates and winners success in their future!