Advice from an Earth Guardians winner

Nathan holding his prize, a Wacom tablet

Nathan Jed F. Napolitano with his prize, a Wacom Cintiq 16" tablet.

Nathan Jed F. Napolitano won the International Student Concept Artist Award in 2020's Earth Guardians Character Design Competition. We asked him about his design and for some advice for this year's entrants.

Astrid Visser, judge of the International Student Concept Artist Award, explains why Nathan's entry stood out:

'I chose Garalattou by Nathan Jed Napolitano as the winner of the International Student Concept Artist Award in the 2020 Earth Guardians Character Design Competition because of both the level of technical skill, and the complex and original origin story. Garalattou was one of 2 entries by Nathan Jed Napolitano which were selected as finalist for this award, demonstrating a level of development, and variety of his personal style. Garalattou’s supporting props, the “Staff of Prosperity” and “Sword of The Sacred Branch” were detailed and specific and could have been translated for fabrication if they were to be made into a physical prop. Garalattou’s age and the way his humanoid form was morphing with plant elements was also very successful. Nathan is a highly capable Concept Designer, and on behalf of Massey University New Zealand I would like to congratulate him for winning this award, from over 150 strong entries from around the globe.'

Nathan's winning entry, Garalattou

Q&A with Nathan

It is such a great honour to be a part of the Earth Guardian’s Character Design Competition contest last year. Definitely, it will be one of my most treasured experiences being a young artist.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What high school did/do you attend?

I am Nathan. “Nate” to my friends and “Daboy” to my family and relatives. Youngest and the only boy among four siblings. My artistry started when I first learned how to hold a pencil correctly, that is according to my parents. But far as I could remember art has been not just a part of my life, but is my life. I am from the municipality of Banga, province of South Cotabato at the very south part of the Philippines. And I spent my high school years in Libertad National High School. 

Why did you enter the competition last year?

Aside from the reason to showcase my idea, I too wanted to express myself through the art I have created and I have seen the competition to be a bigger canvas where I could draw out myself. 

Why are you interested in Concept Design?

I could see concept design interesting in a way that I could articulate my idea, creativity, as well as my skill to come up with a design that could best fit the criteria. Additionally, this form of art, enables me to express my imagination where I could tell a story through my drawings. 

When you entered last year, how did you approach the brief (the competition outline)?

It was honestly not my intention to strive towards winning the contest since it was the first international competition I participated in and I wasn’t expecting anything. Instead, I approached the brief with the intention to come up with the best design that I could create. I simply wanted to express what I think is my best.

You won first prize, a Cintiq 16” tablet. How are you using the prize? How has it helped you as an artist?

The prize was great gift for me. I joined the contest last year with the use of a paper, pens, a scanner, and my phone. I didn’t have any fancy gadget during those times. So, now that I have this tablet, I am now being more of a digital artist and it has helped me a lot with my art today. 

What advice would you give to someone entering the competition this year?

Art is about heart and passion. Because when you have both of these, the idea and creativity, and the skills just follow. And this two will enable an aspiring artist to draw above the horizon and reach an even higher and bigger canvas. 


The 2021 Earth Guardians Character Design Competition is open now, for New Zealand and international secondary school students

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Toi Rauwhārangi
College of Creative Arts
Wellington, Aotearoa