Toledo artist wins international awardWritten by Jennifer S. White | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Penny Collins downtown Toledo studio is an eclectic mix of her art and her life. Eyes and a mustache decorate the studio door. Soft blues and the subtle smell of incense permeate the air. An assortment of books lines one wall. Her art, ranging from posters to framed, intricate charcoal drawings, decorates the remainder of the space.
Collins was named honorable mention winner in the commercial illustration category for the 39th Creativity Annual Awards.
“The first thing I do when I walk into my studio is turn on my music and computer and light incense,” Collins said. “My medium of choice is graphite pencil. [The award-winning artwork] was done with Adobe Illustrator.”
Collins said a friend posted her winning illustration on Creativity’s website. She said she was stunned to be named an award recipient.
“An honorable mention is really quite something,” said Kathleen Ritchie, Marketing Director of the Kentucky-based Creativity Annual Awards. “This is an international competition with 162 categories.”
Collins said she also works with Toledo-based company Adventures in Advertising, Inc.
“[Collins] has been with us for over 10 years,” said Carol Wilkerson Steward of Adventures in Advertising. “She does everything from basic, creative art for our customers to design work with high-profile chains, and then she does her art on the side.”
Ritchie said Creativity award winners should be extremely proud of this honor.
“All of our winners are published,” Ritchie said. She said that each year the winning art is compiled into a book and sold all over the world.
Steward said Collins is always pushing herself to learn.
“I have an associate degree from Davis College,” Collins said. “Right now I am working on my bachelor’s degree in graphic design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.”
She said she reached a point in her life when it was time to move forward with her art.
“I was recently divorced and struggling as a single parent,” Collins said. “I just started putting my work out there.” She said creating was therapeutic after the deaths of her sister, father and mother, all since 2001.
“There has been a lot of twists and turns,” Collins said. “I feel like I am just getting started.”
“I am so happy that she is being recognized,” Steward said. “[Adventures in Advertising] has been working with some of our customers for over 12 years. We have to give [Collins] a lot of that credit.”
Ritchie said the Creativity Annual Awards is growing and changing.
“We have gone through a metamorphosis,” Ritchie said. “The awards originally began as a travelling exhibit and grew into an international competition.”
Steward said Collins is the “total package.”
“I have worked with other graphic artists in the past,” Steward said, “and they are usually good in one area, not her. This girl knows how to do everything and anything. She is one of the most intelligent people I know.”
Collins said she balances working for others, working on her art for herself and family. Happily married with three children and two step-children, she said she still finds time to do research and pursue symbolism to integrate into her pieces.
“When I am doing work for someone else, that has to be priority,” Collins said, “but my spare time is for me.”
“She has been an asset to our customers,” Steward said. “Because of her we have a high standard.”
Ritchie said being part of the Creativity book is a great self-promotion piece.
“Some artists put them on their conference room tables or bring them on sales calls,” Ritchie said. “[To be a part of this publication] is a huge accomplishment, especially since it is awarded by their peers.”
Ritchie said competition judges are international as well. She said judges have no idea where the piece is from or who produced the art during the judging process.
“Each piece is scored individually,” Ritchie said. “It takes the judges three days to choose winners in a category. The number of winners varies annually, and it is possible to have no winners if the scores are not high enough.”
Ritchie said Creativity Annual Awards is currently accepting entries for 2010.
Collins said that in addition to pursuing her second degree, she is working on an illustrated self-portrait.
“Some of my graphite drawings are on my website,” Collins said. “Also, I am on Facebook all the time. I commiserate with other artists there.”
To view Penny Collins’ winning illustration visit ohioart2.com or e-mail her at email@example.com.