Grand Prize Winner
Alexandra E. Tataru
Alexandra E. Tataru, MA is a fine artist and graphic designer. Educated in Spain and Romania, her career has taken her across Europe and the Middle East. Known for her love of urban landscapes, Ms. Tataru is adept at multiple visual art media, including pastel, oil, and acrylic. She regularly fulfills private commissions, and her artwork hangs in businesses and homes around the world. She has created graphic design work for international magazines and design agencies and formerly served as Director of a museum in Barcelona, where she first interacted and fell in love with Japanese art and culture. Alexandra now calls Canada home, and her work is currently being exhibited in Vancouver by the Federation of Canadian Artists. Her online art studio can be found at tatarualexandra.com.
I chose symbolic elements of the two cultures that come together on Japan Day 2022. The rising sun of Japan is transformed into an abundant red moon, illuminating New York. This changes the New York sky, flavoring it with Japanese culture, as further referenced by the great wave of Kanagawa. Here, the iconic New York and Japanese skylines ultimately come together as one. The dynamic, urban energy that characterizes the celebratory ambiance depicting the fusion of Central Park and Japan is fueled by a unique bridge of connections – as illustrated by the individuals, costumes, traditions, and festivities portrayed, underscoring the shared historical and present-day values of these two cultures. The figures, from all walks of life, look straight ahead, proudly displaying who they are, together.
*Listed alphabetically by last name
Millan Astudillo is a graduating student taking a Multimedia Arts degree. She has a passion for the arts and strives to learn more about illustration, graphics design, 3D modeling, and UI/UX. Her passion for drawing started when she was young. Doodling and designing original characters was part of her favorite pastime. Now, art has become her career to pursue. In her spare time, she would do arts and crafts, paint, practice cardistry, and practice pen spinning. To continuously hone her skills in illustration, Millan participates in online art zines and joins art challenges/contests. In the future, she would like to travel the world and learn different art styles from diverse cultures.
Bogdana Butska is a graphic designer who was born in Ukraine. Currently, she lives in Brooklyn, New York. Design is her passion and inspiration. Bogdana started to draw from a very young age and has always looked at the world creatively. Her hobbies are drawing, graphic design, biking, driving, hiking, cooking, and traveling. Bogdana creates her projects in graphic designer programs and with different art supplies – acrylic paints, oils, pencils, watercolors, markers, gouache, ink, or pens.
When Bogdana started drawing around the same age, she became interested in Japanese culture and watched anime. When she discovered Japan Day, Bogdana was inspired and participated in the competition for five years.
Melissa Iwai is a children’s book author and illustrator living in Brooklyn. Her newest book, Gigi and Ojiji, was just released May 3, 2022 with Harper Collins. It is inspired by her childhood experiences trying to communicate with her Japanese grandpa despite language and cultural barriers. Many years later, she finally learned Japanese when she studied and worked in Tokyo and Iwate Prefecture in Japan. Melissa has also written and illustrated Soup Day, Pizza Day, and Dumplings for Lili, published in Japanese by Kaiseisha Publishing Co., and she has illustrated over thirty picture books during her career. A self-described foodie, she loves to infuse her work with the joy of cooking with children.
Ashley Rochford is a Graduate Student at Montclair State University currently majoring in Art Education. She has had a love for creativity and art for as long as she could remember. She is working hard towards her dream to become a teacher and to continue to hone her craft as an artist. “I am so grateful that my artwork was chosen as an honorable mention for this wonderful event!”
Jansen Smith is North Carolina based artist and printmaker whose work has been featured in galleries stateside as well as internationally. Most recently his work was featured in Under the Sea, a book published by Out of Step Books. The artistic style and Japanese references included in this design are also prominent in his personal work. His art reflects a unique combination of his Japanese heritage and Western pop culture. His use of digital still displays long-established printmaking methods by using layers and texture to achieve an overall appearance that echoes traditional Ukiyo-e style.