On June 5, more than 100 students from 10 New York City high schools will assemble at New York City College of Technology (City Tech) in downtown Brooklyn for the metro area’s most important showcase of young talent in graphic communications: the 14th Annual Citywide Graphic Arts Competition.
The event, held under the auspices of the New York City Department of Education, challenges the contestants to conceive and execute their best work in seven categories on a tight, real-world production deadline. The judges are graphics educators and industry professionals. The awards include trophies, cash, gifts, and, for the first-place winners, a celebratory dinner and a tour of The New York Times plant in College Point, Queens.
The judging categories are for graphic, package, and web site design; photography; student filmmakers; digital video production; and digital illustration. On June 5, the contestants will have just four hours to research, design, and produce their projects on site for evaluation later in the day by the judges. While they work, the teachers who encouraged them to enter will attend briefings on industry trends and career paths for students of graphic communications.
The competition is open to all New York City public high school students participating in a graphic arts program. This year, entrants qualified as first-round and second-round finalists by pre-submitting work on the theme of “My City” for online judging by high school graphics teachers. The teachers used detailed rubrics based on professional standards of the graphics industry to assess the entries.
The finalists will receive new assignments to develop for the prize competition in the Atrium at City Tech, which is located at 300 Jay Street. This year, for the first time, alumni of the competition—graduates who were once finalists themselves— will award the trophies, cash and prizes to the winners.
Organizing and promoting the event is Graphics Industry Advisory Commission, a group of volunteers who work with the Department of Education to improve study programs in graphic communications at city high schools. The commission is one of a number of advisory groups under the umbrella of the department’s Office of Postsecondary Readiness (OSPR), which fosters public-private alliances in support of career-focused education.
Over the years, the competition has won the support of numerous graphics industry companies and organizations that donate prizes and provide other kinds of assistance. Additional contributions, however, are always welcome. Wanted this year, says Annette Bensen, chair of the advisory commission, are “products, publications, promo and collateral material, even fun gifts and tchotkes for the gift bags. The annual competition is one of the hallmarks of graphics education in New York, and it works because it is supported by the industry.”