A traveling competition of graphic designers, AIGA and Shutterstock created Pixels of Fury to challenge regional artists to face off in a two round competition with only one person being crowned local Pixels of Fury champion.
With six local designers nominated by the local AIGA chapter, on the 15th of November, they enter round one with limited direction; only requested to create a poster that will “urge the audience to take action.” Intentionally ambiguous, the competitors are left to their own creativity to determine what will best convey that message.
Performing in front of two judges and a third collective audience judge; the designers were split up into two groups of three. With their work being displayed via a projector on a large white wall, every click and drag was under the watchful eye of the 200 people in the audience.
“It was extremely nerve-racking,” said Stephanie Battershell, “to be in front of all these people watching you work. But it was really fun. I was so happy to be in the competition. Being next to [local designer] Michelle Yang in the finals, that was really great.”
With the first two rounds consisting of three contestants and twenty minutes of high-intensity design, the crowd enjoyed plenty of entertainment, beer and pizza. In the sleek, urban collective workspace Makers Room centered in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle, the crowd lounged on vintage furniture surrounded by walls adorned with retro decoration.
The competitors were visibly less relaxed.
“Chaotic.” Rene Neri said, when asked about the mood on stage. “But I had a lot of fun up there. I’d definitely do it again.” This was Neri’s first design competition.
Armed with the Adobe Creative Suite, a Macbook Pro and a drawing tablet, the contestants were given access to Shutterstock Instant Lightbox for their images. Varying concepts from “freeing our minds from television” to inspiring us to “take action before the Mayan calendar ends,” the distinct style of each designer was apparent as none of the contestant’s work mimicked another’s style.
“I didn’t even think to look at the [other competitor’s] work; I was too focused on my own.” Niri said.
With Stephanie Battershell and Michelle Yang moving onto the finals, the judges announced a bit of a twist for the championship round. The themes both competitors used in their preliminary rounds would be reversed. Battershell’s “Kill Your TV” theme, and Yang’s “Luchador” themes reversed, the competitors launched into the final round.
Battershell came out strong and almost immediately displayed that she knew what type of design she was looking to achieve, creating an abstract version of a vintage luchadores poster. Yang played on Battershell’s initial theme by designing a poster encouraging viewers to “free your television.”
Clearly a crowd favorite, the cheers for Yang’s final design made it clear who would leave as the winner. Awarded a trophy, a three month subscription to Shutterstock and a $ 100 Apple gift card, the greatest honor being Pixels of Fury champion.
“It was just such a great opportunity to meet other designers,” Yang said. “The main thing I was hoping for tonight was to have fun, and I definitely had a lot of that.”