ArcaMIDI Synthesizer. Alex Hatch, Senior. 2010 Gold Medal, Design.

JOSH ASKED: First of all, I’m a pretty great writer. But girls like guys who can play basketball and lift weights. Is there a secret dating handbook for writers?

NED SAID: Josh, the whims of women are complicated and alas, there is no “secret dating handbook” for writers. Read More

Oakland, California-based Kat Ouano (who goes by the name Kat O1O won national recognition for her talent in visual arts from The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards with a piece entitled Back Alley at the Break o’ Dawn. But alongside her talent in art, Kat demonstrated early promise in music and began playing classical piano at age 4 in her native Wichita, Kansas. Kat is a keyboardist who plays with numerous Bay Area musicians, including the hip hop band Crown City Rockers. She’s also created music for diverse clients such as video game companies, T-Mobile and PBS. We caught up with Kat last fall to talk about making music, creating art and space travel as she was preparing to go on tour in Japan. Read More

It’s true that alumni of The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards come from all creative walks of life – we’ve got painters, writers, photographers, poets, video game designers, journalists, teachers and even a handful of lawyers and scientists. But if there’s one question we commonly hear, it’s: “I won an Award! What do I do now?”

For Mary-Kate Lee and three of her Scholastic Award-winning brothers and sisters, the answer was simple: start a Celtic folk band. Bands as diverse as the Allman Brothers, Beach Boys, the Kinks, the Pointer Sisters, Hanson, Radiohead, Van Halen and the Jackson 5 all hail from sibling roots, and musical families have been the subject of TV shows and movies. But Seasons enters the scene as the first sibling band we’ve heard of composed entirely of Scholastic Award winners.

The group was started almost five years ago by Lee siblings Peter Winter, Mary-Teresa, Mary Kate and Mary-Grace, who perform for churches, weddings, coffeehouses and even the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire and Appalachian Brewing Company. Music includes vocals, harp, hammered dulcimer, the mandolin, percussions and the penny whistle. The group has released two albums (Eventide Lullaby and Which Way to Dublin Town) and are hard at work composing original music for their third. Both albums have sold internationally and been reviewed by national publications. In addition to performing their own music, they’ve also been known to play selections from Lord of the Rings, Cold Play, Johnny Cash and Bach.

When Mary-Kate Lee isn’t writing new songs or performing, she still spends a good deal of time writing. She reports that in addition to working on a collection of short stories, she has her first novel in the works, and she recently won a writing competition that landed her short short story, Berceuse, in Central Pennsylvania Magazine. She reports: “I can say, as a professional musician and writer, that my life’s course would not be the same without my experience in Scholastic Art & Writing Competition. What a boost in confidence, and a thrill to have my hard work recognized.”

Mary-Kate continues to balance her musical life with her writing. For her, the question isn’t “what can I do now?” but “what can’t I do?” Whether it’s a novel or a Celtic band, the possibilities are endless.

See Seasons’ cover of Coldplay’s Clocks – with two djembe accompanists – here.

Dominique Bloink is an illustrator who is 14 years old and has her own production company, Blue Chocolate Designs.

I became aware of her work during the 2009 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition, when I proctored the adjudication of the Video & Animation category.

At the national level, each of the regional gold keys is judged by a group of knowledgeable professionals in that particular medium. For the Video & Animation category, we had three directors. We also had a projector, assorted snacks, and unlimited coffee provided by Scholastic, Inc. Someone must be present to move the process along, because—always—the caliber of the work leads to deep consideration, the request to revisit a moment or image, and rather passionate discussion.

If I hadn’t been there to call “Time” these people would drop off the face of the earth and their films would never get finished.

Most of the videos that they judges (and I) saw were shockingly-accomplished, technically. Humbling. Likewise, all were—had to be, to make it that far—fresh and thought-provoking. They ran the gamut from taut, wordless vignettes to large-scale feature-length works with big casts and impressive special effects. We barely made it out of the Scholastic building by the end of normal business hours, because the judges were so intent on giving each entry its due consideration.

Ms. Bloink’s entry was a music video for the Swedish artist Melpo Mene. I am not exaggerating to say that when it came on—from the first second the hand-drawn title screen flickered to life—everyone’s jaws dropped. When it ended, there was a pretty unanimous request to watch it once more.

What we had been given was a perfect pop song accompanying a gorgeous, sometimes-literal, hand-drawn…stop-motion cartoon?

It was something I had not encountered before, unless you count someone like the South African artist William Kentridge. More than just hand-drawn images filmed fast enough to suggest motion, the process was evident in the final product.

While Kentridge includes eraser marks and past action in his pieces, Ms. Bloink lets you see the “special effects” she employs to show…the fingers of a cellist playing a melody, for example. Flowers blossoming and blowing away. Notes flying through the air. Night-time falling.

There is one especially genius bit—as the song makes a pretty dramatic transition from pure, blissful appreciation to darkness as the love sours—where Ms. Bloink uses a title card on…what could be a skewer, to draw attention (again) to the fact that this is not 2-D, flat animation.

It is reminiscent of Godard’s Week-End, where the exhortation to “notice the presence of a foreground” is made again and again. In this case, things happen behind a traveling cut-out or above a stationary background.(Obviously, trotting out a Godard reference is bound to inspire a little leeriness. Is it appropriate to say this about an artist of her age? I don’t think so.)

I left the room where we held the adjudication, pledging—like everyone else—to walk straight to Other Music to buy a copy of the CD. I did, and was not able to because the CD wasn’t available in the United States. A few months later, I went to Melpo Mene’s website to find out if the U.S. had gained enough cultural viability to be sold his music…and I found out that he had made Ms. Bloink’s creation the official music video for the song.

You can see it for yourself: