In early May, sophomore Lilah Shorey submitted a photograph — “Catch of the Day” — and drawing — “Founder of the Rolling Stones” — to the California State Fair Student Showcase, open July 12-28 at Cal Expo (1600 Exposition Blvd). Judges accepted her photograph, but she did not place in the competition. 

Q: Why did you decide to enter the student showcase?

A: I went to the state fair every year with my mom ever since I was little, and I have always wanted to enter the photography competition, but I never had any good photos. In 2017, after my trip to South Africa, I decided to enter a picture of an elephant, and I won first place in my age division (ages 13-15). 

So this year, I decided to enter again because I had some cool pictures from my trip to Africa last summer. The details were listed on the state fair website, and I saw a chance to enter other art entries, so I decided to enter my drawing in addition to the picture because I am passionate about sketching. 

In 2017, sophomore Lilah Shorey won first place at the California State Fair Student Showcase for this photo she took in South Africa of an elephant. (Photo by Shorey)

Q: How did you choose which pieces to enter?

A: I looked at all of my photos and drawings and made an album with the ones I liked best. I eventually narrowed it down to the pieces that had the most detail, the best angles and an interesting topic. 

Q: What art piece did you enter?

A: I entered a portrait of Brian Jones, the guitarist and founder of the Rolling Stones. I am a huge fan of classic rock, so most of my pieces are about musicians during that time. I was really proud of that piece because it was my first time using markers and colored pencils together. 

Unfortunately, the artwork included a cigarette in his hand, so I got disqualified because there is a rule about no drug usage in the artwork to keep the fair family-friendly. 

Q: What was your favorite part about that drawing?

A: I really liked the hands in the drawing because I spent a lot of time perfecting them. Also, the drawing was stylized with my creativity but still remained realistic, which is fun to do. 

Sophomore Lilah Shorey submitted this drawing — “Founder of the Rolling Stones” — of Brian Jones, founder and guitarist of the Rolling Stones, to the California State Fair Student Showcase. However, due to the fair’s policy prohibiting the depiction of drug use, judges did not accept Shorey’s drawing. (Photo by Shorey)

Q: Why did you choose that photo?

A: Last summer, I got a new camera and went to Africa. I took some really unique pictures of animals during our safari. My favorite was a leopard holding a rabbit in its teeth because I felt that it represented the cycle of nature, and it’s a rare moment to capture.   

Q: How do you think your drawing and photograph compared with others?

A: I think my pieces were about the same level as the majority of the people who entered. My art wasn’t very different because most people did portraits for the drawing section and took pictures of animals for the photography section. 

Q: Would you encourage other students to enter this competition?

A: Yes, this was a great experience. I would recommend that students read the handbook on the website and make sure there are no rule violations in your piece so that hard work won’t be wasted on something minor. 

If anyone is interested in drawing, photography, woodwork, crafting or even 3D pieces, I would submit it for fun because it’s not all about winning. 

Q: What advice would you give students who don’t know which piece to submit?

A: I would go to the state fair at least once and see what other pieces people have entered. If you see a common theme between the winners or you can tell what the judges like, make sure that your artwork is heading in that direction. 

Sophomore Lilah Shorey poses in front of her elephant photo that earned first place in the California State Fair Student Showcase in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Shorey)

Q: What impact has this competition had on you?

A: It’s inspired me to continue making art and continue to push myself to become a better artist. I usually see what other artists do and try to incorporate new styles that look nice. I really want to enter again next year and hopefully enter more competitions.

Q: What surprised you about the process?

A: In 2017, there were multiple first places, but now there is only one. 

Q: What was it like seeing your work on the wall?

A: It felt really amazing because I had put a lot of effort into something that went on display to complete strangers.

—By Sanjana Anand

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