For over 33 years, the Illustrators of the Future Contest has been discovering and nurturing aspiring artists and providing a platform for their artistic talents to be seen and acknowledged.
Each quarter, entrants from around the globe enter three pieces of science fiction / fantasy art into the annual competition. And from there three new contest winners are selected by our panel of judges. At the end of the year, all 12 artists are each commissioned (under a 30-day deadline) to create a full-page color illustration for one of the Writers of the Future Contest winning stories. That illustration is featured in color in the annual anthology and is the subject of a second-phase competition for the annual grand prize Golden Brush Award.
Below are the pieces of art that won the first phase of the competition. Get a copy of Writers of the Future Volume 38 to see their commissioned story illustrations.
These Contest winners were selected by the following internationally renown artists who serve as Contest judges:
Arthur M. Doweyko
Arthur illustrated “For the Federation” by J.A. Becker in Writers of the Future Volume 38.
As a scientist (computational modeling of drug design), Arthur M. Doweyko has authored 140+ scientific publications, invented novel 3D drug design software, and shares the 2008 Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award for the discovery of Sprycel, a new anti-cancer drug.
He writes and illustrates science fiction, fantasy, and horror. His debut novel, Algorithm, garnered a 2010 Royal Palm Literary Award (RPLA) and was published by E-Lit Books in October 2014. His second novel, As Wings Unfurl, took first place as Best Science Fiction (Pre-Published) in the 2014 RPLA competition and was released in 2016 by Red Adept Publishing. Many of his short stories have been honored as finalists in RPLA competitions, as well as achieving Honorable Mentions in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contests. He has published two short story anthologies (My Shorts and Captain Arnold), both of which have garnered awards.
Besides science and writing, Arthur has maintained a lifelong love of art. From copying comic book covers at an early age to illustrating science fiction and fantasy themes utilizing various media, including oils and digital art, Arthur has always found the time between experiments to pursue his artistic dreams and share his visions of a future unbounded.
He lives in Florida with his wife Lidia, teaches college chemistry, and happily wanders the beaches when not jousting with aliens.
Nick illustrated “Gallows” by Desmond Astaire in Writers of the Future Volume 38.
Nick Jizba was born in Bloomington, Indiana, in 1984, but he has spent most of his life living in Nebraska. He has always spent time drawing, but didn’t really consider art as a career option. Losing a safe construction job in the 2008 recession pushed Nick to develop his art into a career. He attended ITT Tech Institute for game design, focusing on 3D modeling and level design. In school, he ended up doing most of the concept art and sketching for group projects, and that developed into a passion for digital painting. Nick has continued to learn by taking a variety of online classes, taking on the occasional freelance illustration, and working on personal illustrations that he sells at conventions. He is currently working on his first book, The Sower.
Zaine Lodhi—Grand Prize Winner
Zaine illustrated “Agatha’s Monster” by Azure Arther in Writers of the Future Volume 38.
Zaine Lodhi was born in 1999 in the seaside tourist town of Sarasota, Florida. He feels as if his path as an illustrator was predestined—he has known the trajectory of his life since childhood. Zaine was surrounded by incredible fantasy art from a young age, collecting Magic: The Gathering cards and whatever comics he could get his hands on. The art of Frank Frazetta, Alex Ross, and Gerald Brom were pivotal in his stylistic development.
Zaine is currently studying illustration with a visual development (concept art) focus at Ringling College of Art and Design. He placed the most importance on programs that value an unwavering work ethic and emphasize preparation for the workforce.
He has a strong classical painting background fostered by professors who specialize in figure and landscape painting. He combines traditional painting and drawing skill sets with his visual library to produce concept art for games and film. Currently, he is a student freelance illustrator looking to join a studio and make a mark in the video game industry upon graduation.
Tenzin illustrated “Psychic Poker” by Lazarus Black in Writers of the Future Volume 38.
Tenzin Rangdol was born in 2003 in the small city of Dharamsala, India, situated at the edge of the Himalayas. Tenzin was infatuated with the art of drawing when he scribbled his first cube in grade school. He went on to dedicate himself to drawing and improving with pencil and charcoal in sketchbooks and on newsprint paper. With a traditional foundation and education from the internet, he explored digital painting and expanded his narratives and illustrations. He currently lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, and has recently graduated from Albert Einstein High School. Tenzin intends to pursue a career in freelance illustration and continue to learn and explore the art of creating immersive narratives and worlds.
Majid illustrated “The Island on the Lake” by John Coming in Writers of the Future Volume 38.
Majid Saberinejad was born in 1987 in Qazvin, Iran. As a child, he spent hours every day drawing and painting. Majid has a bachelor’s degree in painting from Shahed University in Tehran, Iran. Following university, Majid worked with some small book and magazine publishers and on several mural painting projects.
He loves to portray the environment and its details in all of his work. This has shown itself in multiple ways when it comes to creating space.
He is very fond of the works of great artists, which motivate him to improve his art.
Majid is currently living and working in Marburg, Germany.
Natalia Salvador was born in 1985 in Granada, in the south of Spain. She grew up reading, watching adventure films, and playing classic adventure video games that inspired her drawings.
She always liked art and admired book covers and interior illustrations, so it wasn’t surprising when she decided to approach that world by studying fine art and graphic design. Her mother always encouraged her and was the one who gave her the final push to pursue a career in illustration.
Influenced by fantasy art and the Golden Age of Illustration, she enjoys creating beautiful images that tell a story.
Brett illustrated “Lilt of a Lark” by Michael Panter in Writers of the Future Volume 38.
Brett Stump is an educator, artist, and illustrator. As a Kansas City transplant in Southwest Missouri, Brett grows fonder of the Ozarks with each passing day. Along the way, he has been dreaming, doodling, and drawing closer to his goal of becoming a freelance illustrator.
Brett creates captivating images, piquing curiosity in all who view them. His works hint at stories and characters which unfold in the viewer’s mind. These visual introductions grasp the imagination and create worlds of their own; it is part of Brett’s process to entertain how he can tell each story best.
Brett lives just north of Springfield, Missouri, with his wife Kyli, son Shepherd, and daughter Fallon. He enjoys great music, good books, and even better barbecue. When not painting, Brett ingests copious amounts of all three.
Jerome illustrated “The Last Dying Season” by Brittany Rainsdon in Writers of the Future Volume 38.
Jerome Tieh is a Singaporean digital illustrator focused on creating immersive worlds.
Although he initially entered Maryland Institute College of Arts seeking to get a degree in game design, he found himself enthralled with illustration—be it preproduction visual development or postproduction promotional art. He soon found himself dedicating most of his time to illustration—while still focusing on the entertainment industry.
Jerome’s works span from posters to concept art to motion graphics and UI mock-ups. After graduating in 2022, Jerome has been working for UX Is Fine as an UI artist focusing on animation, which he hopes will give him further insight into the inner workings of the video game industry.
Annalee illustrated “The Mystical Farrago” by N.V. Haskell in Writers of the Future Volume 38.
Annalee Wu was born in 1998 in the valleys of Baltimore County, Maryland. Anna was curious about the life around her. She developed a strong interest in the inner lives of fictional heroes and their personal connections to a speculative world. Awestruck by the world of online artists, Anna opened her eyes to art that seemed more realistic than life itself. After many years of searching for the roots of these artists, Anna found a nurturing online community that provided friendship and guidance among people who shared a similar path. She is working hard to polish her work and eventually contribute to the world that inspired her on this journey.
Jim illustrated “The Greater Good” by Em Dupre in Writers of the Future Volume 38.
Jim Zaccaria was born and raised in East Boston. Jim has worked varied jobs in graphic design—first as a printer, then a print buyer, and then as a graphic designer specializing in book cover design. His work has won acclaim from Bookbuilders of Boston, The New York Book Show, and the Boskone Art Show. Also, his work has appeared in the annuals from Bookbuilders of Boston and Infected by Art.
Much of his daily work is book cover design for publishers and independent authors, though he feels the pull toward image creation. Over the last several years, he has started to build his portfolio and exhibit at various conventions, squeezing in new art every chance he gets.
Jim has been drawn to the arts from an early age. Music is an immense inspiration for ideas, and much of his personal work is influenced by a song title, lyric, or mood. Other subjects that motivate and spark his imagination are mythology, poster design, and artists working in imaginative realism. Most of his art is produced digitally, and he sees that as a perfect medium for commercial works. He also enjoys working in traditional methods as well as blending digital and traditional.
Ari illustrated “The Magic Book of Accidental City Destruction: A Book Wizard’s Guide” by Z. T. Bright in Writers of the Future Volume 38.
Ari Zaritsky was born in 2001 in a small suburban area in Chicago, Illinois. Since childhood, art has been influencing the way he views things in life. Constantly dissecting and analyzing what is around him and asking himself, “How would I draw this?” has led Ari down a creative path.
Pixar’s Up and Ratatouille were key to Ari discovering a career as an artist. Up’s opening scene moved his mother to tears, all without any spoken words. Ratatouille inspired his stepdad to pursue culinary excellence because of the phrase, “Anyone can cook.” Because both these films moved his parents, Ari set a new goal for himself: to move people through the art he creates.
Ari has been drawing since his earliest memory. He used to draw only in black and white. He specifically used pencils to shade and draw, which made him steer away from color altogether. Ari’s color blindness has proved to be a challenge. However, swimming at the elite level for eleven years, the challenge was nothing new to him.
Currently, Ari is studying at Savannah College of Art and Design, where he is honing his career skills. When he’s not at school, Ari is working hard to refine his technical skills and add to his portfolio.
Xiaomeng illustrated “The Phantom Carnival” by M. Elizabeth Ticknor in Writers of the Future Volume 38.
Xiaomeng Zhang was born in Chengdu, Sichuan, China, in 1990. He has always had a keen interest in art, but science fiction movies captured his imagination, and he began to imitate scenes and characters he saw in those films.
He attended the Academy of Art in San Francisco to conduct his own comprehensive art research. It was a valuable opportunity to meet creatively talented artists with similar interests. After graduating from university, he worked in animation, video game development, and as a graphic designer.
His love for digital painting is reflected in his creativity. He uses his spare time to paint and study different styles of artistic creation. In the subsequent work, his ideas often brought unexpected effects for his company.
His work has been presented in several art magazines.
Xiaomeng continues to innovate his artistic creations and provide his freelance clients with high-quality illustration services.
A returning alumni from Volume 30
Michael illustrated “The Professor Was a Thief” by L. Ron Hubbard in Writers of the Future Volume 38.
Growing up in Jamaica, Michael Talbot had a strong desire to inspire and speak to others through art. In 2012 he left his home country to live in the United States and begin pursuing his artistic dreams. He earned his BFA in illustration and graphic design with a minor in animation at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has since been working as a Boston-based freelance artist on a wide range of projects, exhibitions, and showcases.
Michael believes that all art is interconnected in some facet—informing, complimenting and/or enhancing each other. And although his passion and interest for storytelling are foremost in his practice and craft, he tends to draw from his knowledge in as many areas of study as possible to help strengthen this process. Whenever possible, he uses his rich cultural background from his early life in Jamaica to infuse, improve, and “season” whatever project he tackles, often mixing both digital and traditional media.
You can listen to Michael Talbot on the Writers of the Future Podcast where he talks about his art and success since winning the Illustrators of the Future Contest for Volume 30.
We highly recommend following these artists, there is a tremendous amount of good work to come.