Junior Maria Damianou Honored By the Society of Illustrators of New York

Maria Damianou, Walken
News Story: February 1, 2011

Maria Damianou, ’12, recently learned that her drawing in graphite, “Walken” has been accepted into the Society of Illustrators of New York Annual Student Scholarship Competition for 2011. Earlier this year, the same piece was accepted by the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles.

Damianou, who is from Monroe, CT, says she was surprised and happy when she found out her illustration had been accepted for a second time. “It’s kind of amazing, because it’s the first illustration I have ever done,” she says.

Founded in 1901, the Society of Illustrators of New York is the oldest illustration society in the country. Its mission is to promote the art of illustration, to appreciate its history and evolving nature through exhibitions, lectures and education and to contribute the service of its members to the welfare of the community at large.

The Society has held the Student Scholarship Competition since 1981. Over a hundred works are chosen from more than 5,000 entries submitted by professors of college-level students nationwide. A jury of professional peers, including illustrators and art directors, selects the most outstanding works created throughout the year. Pieces are accepted based on the quality of technique, concept and skill of medium used. 
Professor Jack de Graffenried in SHU's Department of Graphic Design and Visual Arts notes that the Society of Illustrators of New York and the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles are the two most prestigious exhibitions for illustration in the country. “While a piece occasionally is selected for both shows, it certainly is not the norm. I’m very proud of Maria,” he says. “This kind of exposure can jump start a career.”

Damianou also has kind things to say about de Graffenried. “He has helped me so much with that piece and with others,” she says. “He has been an inspiration to me and has helped me get over my fears of trying something new. I’m very grateful to him.”

This is the 34th time since 2004 that an illustration by Sacred Heart students has been accepted into one of the two nationally juried student competitions.

“I say it every year, but it speaks very highly of what our students are doing in terms of illustration. We’re a small university with a small department, but our students continue to stand out among their peers from much larger programs,” de Graffenried says.