I thought including this interview with Emily Jones to be a great way to put in a nutshell how this whole awards thing kicked my butt in the best way possible.

CURIOSITY INVENTED THE CAT

“My passion is story and ideas and imagination.”

After receiving his award on-stage, Seth J. Rowanwood, Illustrators of the Future Gold Award Winner for 2009, made it very clear that story drives his work.

“There’s nothing like the joy of watching somebody’s face when you’ve just taken them somewhere completely, completely different than anything they’ve seen,” he said.
A native of Canada, Seth began telling stories through images as a young boy in school. He would grab paper from anywhere and everywhere he could get it, drawing spaceships and battles. What he found frustrating was not being able to draw or write fast enough to capture and render all the ideas that he imagined.

He finished high school with some recognition of his budding talents; however, art college proved to be more challenging to him. With some reservation, he took up a graphic design job for money. But his dreams of becoming a storyteller never left him alone. Stories waiting to be told kept pouring out of him, some written, some drawn, others shared during conversations. After a long career in graphic design, without a published story to his name, he finally decided to surrender to his passion.

Seth originally found out about the contest through an editor. “I showed her some pieces, and she said, ‘Well, why don’t you enter these?’ She had entered several times on the writers’ side and so I said, ‘Okay.’ It took me a month, I think, to figure out what I would send.”

When he found out he had won and would by flying to Hollywood to accept an award, Seth was shocked—and pleasantly surprised by what he found in the entertainment hub of the world.
“I had no idea what Hollywood was about. I’m from Toronto, so all I get is the watered-down media version. But when you read the mosaic tile stories on the Hollywood walk, you realize they’re people with vision and passion and a desire to say something, to do something—all in the name of imagination and art.”

Following the week of activities for the winners, including the Illustrators of the Future Workshop, Seth said what he liked most was “Ron Lindahn’s relentless preaching about believing in yourself, and looking at the writing on the wall of what’s possible now. Also, the legacy of someone like Mr. Hubbard and other writers and artists like him, and visionaries throughout this century—left-field masters.”

For all those who want to enter the contest and be winners, his advice is: “Just do it. Do it even if you think you can’t, because a thousand rejections precede one acceptance. And what’s learned in those thousand rejections, that acceptance is going to be more than just validation. It’s your triumph.

“First identify what you want, clearly,” he explains. “Something’s coming at you, something wants your attention. Identify what that is. Visualize passionately, clearly, fully. Don’t pull any punches on what you want. There is only now. Follow the inspiration, follow the Muse. Seriously, they teach you about yourself. I don’t think curiosity killed the cat; I think curiosity invented the cat.”