Otaka Places Second in HART Art Poster Contest


Chanelle Camero, Online Editor

For as long as she could remember, Sophomore Willow Otaka has had a love for art. She would constantly draw throughout preschool, elementary, middle and even now in high school. This year, Otaka entered the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) art poster contest and placed second in the Digital Art category for ninth and tenth graders. HART is responsible for the creation and maintenance of transportation in Hawai’i. This years theme for the island wide contest was “Imagine Yourself: Ready to Ride the Rail.”

    “Seeing other artists at the award ceremony was pretty neat. It was nice to interact with other artists who were passionate about art just like I was. Asking them about their styles and techniques gave me new ideas for my upcoming works,” said Otaka.

    Last year, Otaka found HART’s contests and decided to participate in the 2018 HART art contest. After placing third in the Digital Art category for ninth and tenth graders, she wanted to participate in this years contest. “I wanted to enter this contest because it seemed like a fun pastime. In addition, it’s something I can put under my college resume when applying for art schools. Art contests are fun ways to display my work and I often do several throughout each school year,” said Otaka. “I really like doing art contests on my free time because it’s something I can do for fun, while serving as a hobby I can show to colleges.”

    Over the course of a month, Otaka worked on her piece. In total, it took about three hours to complete it. “While the idea by itself was bland, I considered incorporating other twists to spice up my piece. I didn’t want to draw anything which was generic, so I did my best to stand out to the judges. After considering ways to change the drawing, I decided on a few eccentric additions to the drawing,” said Otaka.

    In her award winning piece, Otaka decided to draw herself riding the transit system. She drew a part of a character that she typically uses to represent herself. “By using abstract concepts and cohesively implementing them through movement, my intention was to create an unrealistic piece that appeared applicable to the theme, yet whimsically creative,” said Otaka.

    Placing second, Otaka received a $75 prize and an award certificate. Her artwork was additionally shown on KITV news. “Personally, the real prize is the experience that I can use to apply to art colleges and the opportunity to put my name out to the public as an artist,” said Otaka. “While we were at the award ceremony, HART executive Andrew Robbins mentioned that they wanted to display the winner’s art at malls, such as Pearlridge, but they have yet to explain to us about that.”

    While Otaka does both digital and traditional art, she prefers digital art because of the many tools and colors at her disposal. She uses a free software called FireAlpaca to create her digital art. “However, my specialty is large-scale projects. For an example, I often make animations composing of 100 to 500 individual drawings and backgrounds. Recently I was granted the pleasure of showing an animation I made in March in the upcoming Hawai’i Cultural Film Festival,” said Otaka.

    In seventh grade, Otaka got an Intuos Wacom tablet. Since then, digital art has become her main platform for drawing. “It’s pretty tricky to define my art style because it’s a compilation of my inspirations. When designing my art, I often try to learn something out of each piece I create. When I see an artist do something that looks cool, I save their work to a folder and I jot down notes about why it looks good. Analyzing their piece is essential to learn what makes a piece so great,” said Otaka. “From experimenting with various techniques from other artists, I learn what works with my style and what doesn’t.”

    Otaka’s artwork will be displayed at the Pearlridge Shopping Center. Her winning piece along with other artwork can be found on her Instagram and Tumblr under NyamenRamen.