Southern Utah University’s Department of Filmmaking, Art, & Design (FAD) is buzzing with pride as recent Illustration graduate, Jess Hebertson, shines brightly in the limelight of the esteemed Society of Illustrators New York Student Scholarship competition. Jess’s outstanding talent has propelled her into the ranks of the nation’s top emerging illustrators, marking a significant milestone in her artistic journey.

For over 40 years, the Society of Illustrators New York Student Scholarship competition has stood as a beacon of recognition in the industry, drawing submissions from college-level students across the United States. Each year, a panel of distinguished professionals rigorously evaluates entries based on criteria such as technique, concept, and skill of medium used, seeking the most exceptional and original pieces.

Hala Swearingen, SUU Professor of Illustration, expressed the significance of Jess’s achievement, stating, “Having work accepted into this elite exhibition is the highest honor a student can attain. Jess deserves this recognition! She works so hard and is dedicated to building her skills and talents. Getting into this show is a message to her that professionals in the Illustration industry acknowledge her work as some of the best in the country.”

SUU Media Relations
SUU Media Relations

The piece that earned Jess this prestigious recognition, titled “The Yellow Wallpaper,” is part of a series of book covers she created for her senior capstone project. Displayed at the Southern Utah Museum of Art during the Senior BFA Exhibition Incandescent, Jess’s work captures the haunting essence of the classic tale, depicting a woman’s descent into madness amidst oppressive surroundings.

Reflecting on her achievement, Jess shared, “I entered this piece knowing it would be put up against some of the best illustrators from the top art schools in the country. When Hala let me know I was accepted, I was shocked and excited. In the history of SUU’s Illustration program, there have been less than ten students accepted into the exhibition, so I am very happy to join the ranks!”

Jess’s success extends beyond this accolade; earlier this year, she had two pieces accepted into the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles show Illustration West 62. Overwhelmed with gratitude, Jess remarked, “I never thought I would get my art into even one of these competitions, much less two! It is a huge vote of confidence, especially as I’m graduating and starting my career as an illustrator.”

While Jess’s talent and creativity are undeniable, she attributes much of her success to the unwavering support of her professors, particularly Hala Swearingen and Eric Brown, as well as her classmates, Zoë Petersen and Amariah Freeman, who provided invaluable encouragement and inspiration along the way.

Jess and her fellow honorees will be celebrated during an exclusive Opening Reception at the Museum of American Illustration on Friday, May 10, with her work showcased from May 8 to June 8. As Jess continues her journey as an illustrator, her remarkable achievements serve as a testament to her dedication, talent, and the supportive community that has propelled her forward.

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Gallery Credit: Stephen Lenz

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