The hunt returns for the best young concept designers

Cartoon orange 'Earth Guardians' logo with grass growing around it

Massey University’s College of Creative Arts is once again encouraging secondary and kura kaupapa students to open their minds and let imagination take over as the Earth Guardians competition returns for 2021.

Building on the success of 2020, the competition gives students a glimpse of what it is like to study the new Concept Design major in the Bachelor of Design.

Students from across Aotearoa who are in years 10 to 13 are invited to participate by creating a character to defend the earth, using nature and the four elements to inspire their designs. This includes everything from where the character lives to special powers and any links it may have to specific places, myths and legends.

Out of more than 300 entries from last year, some of the winners included a guardian maiden named Ngahema who was a mother figure of the forests, The Kaitiaki, a guardian of the forest and whenua who was represented in artwork by a Kereru, and the Nominer (giver of names), a character of Elvin origin who resides in hollow trees.

College of Create Arts Design Kaihāpai Astrid Visser said they’re looking for innovative concepts for new characters that have never been imagined before.

“Last year’s winners had all carefully considered where their guardian lived and what environmental issue they specifically targeted.”

Visser, who will be judging the Top School prize, says she’s looking for the range of media used, as well as the strength and originality of the ideas behind the designs.

This year 32 prizes across 11 award categories are up for grabs including the winner of the Weta Workshop New Zealand Ultimate Concept Artist Award receiving a Wacom 16” Cintiq Pen Display, the Massey University Te Ao Māori Award winning a $500 prize pack with flights to Wellington for a Weta Workshop experience, and the PikPok Best Game concepts winning one of 5 PikPok prize packs.

A new Traditional Media award has also been added to this year’s competition that gives students the opportunity to win one of five $100 prize packs of art supplies from Gordon Harris.

Weta Workshop are once again supporting the competition alongside Massey University, with the addition of international student categories alongside opportunities for young Kiwi students, says Paul Tobin, Senior Concept Artist and Weta Workshop School Supervisor.

“At Weta Workshop we’re all about thinking up, designing and creating cool stuff. It’s how all of us started – doodling, drawing and designing. We are thrilled, to once again partner with the College of Creative Arts at Massey University, to inspire young artists to unleash their imagination into the exciting world of concept design!”

Massey are also excited to have a new award sponsor come on board, Adobe Creative Education alongside returning sponsors Pik Pok, Gordon Harris and principal sponsor Weta Workshop.

Judges for the 2021 competition include; Paul Tobin from Weta Workshop, Sarah Dixey from PikPok, Tim Kitchen from Adobe Creative Education, Tanya Marriott from Massey University, Hamish Fraser a concept artist, Astrid Visser from Massey University a multimedia artist, designer and former Art, Design and Digital Technology teacher, as well as Claire Hackett and Sonya Withers both Master of Design graduates and artists in their own fields.

Entries open on 19 April and close 1 July with public voting for the Weta Workshop NZ Rising Stars Award opening online on 13 August. A voting link will be placed on the Earth Guardians web page.

International students based in New Zealand can also enter into all the other award categories except the International category which is for offshore international students aged 14–18.

Students can enter online through the website through an entry form with image upload capabilities.

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Toi Rauwhārangi
College of Creative Arts
Wellington, Aotearoa