Festival of Whales Invites Artists to Compete in Design Contest with a Cash Prize

If your artwork runs more toward the Weekly's Orange Feathers, the question is: can you apply your cutting-edge art skills to this joyous adventure? The Festival of the Whales Foundation has put out a call for artists to compete in creating their festival logo for the March 2017 celebration of the California Gray Whale annual migration. The winner's design will become the poster, be seen on ads and merchandise, be reproduced in print and online media, and maybe even hung from banners around Dana Point where the festival happens. The entrants will be whittled down to five finalists, with a social-media vote deciding the winner. A cash prize of $500 goes to first place; $100 and $50 to second and third place. All finalists get tickets to a whale-watching adventure.

Us year-round beachgoers are quite familiar with the adventure you can have from the somewhat-comfortable confines of a beach chair in the sand—or pile of rocks as was the case last winter. We see Gray Whale spouts offshore from December to May as these baleen beauties make the trek from Alaska to Baja and back up with their babies. When they breach the sunlight bounces off their bodies; it's almost as thrilling as seeing the green flash in that split second after the sun disappears.

The green flash is not a myth, I've seen it. Three times. One trick for successful spout-spotting is frequenting a beach near one of the whale-watching wharfs in Dana Point, Newport or Long Beach and learning to recognize their boats offshore. If one is stopped, just look behind it and wait for the spray to shoot up. If the ship has tons of birds flying off the stern, it's a fishing excursion and you'll need to look elsewhere. Once we saw a group of adults (45-plus feet long!) and newborns (16 feet long!) feeding very close off Salt Creek Point. 

For the contest, try capturing a 44-ton Mysticeti queen and her offspring in one colorful splash of an image. Whatever medium you use for your original, all artwork must be emailed by midnight September 20 and has to include a California Gray Whale in some form plus the required text for the 2017 Festival: “46th Annual Dana Point Festival of Whales, March 4-5 & 11-12, 2017”. For specifics on the requirements, see detailed contest info here

Designs over the last 45 years have run the gamut from minimalist color-blocking to highly detailed visions that somehow include the sky, horizon, ocean surface and what's going on whale-wise down below into one cohesive whole. Some have had mass quantities of white space, others none. Many are blue dominant, but quite a few emphasize sunset colors over sea hues. Former artists include Wyland (of course) and John Van Hamersveld of Endless Summer poster fame, but for the past five years high-school students have been tapped. Original art has been rendered in watercolor and oil or generated digitally, with titles bestowed by the artists. Check out a brief history of previous artwork here. 

Take a break from mocking the human condition and spend some time communing with a superior mammal. If you want to get out on the water right now—in the name of research!—the whale-watching boats regularly see Humpbacks and Blue whales in the summer months. Then create a piece that blows the festival judges away.

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