For South Carroll High School senior Garrett Zanin, it started as doodling.
He always loved drawing, and things progressed over the years. Art class was always his favorite, Zanin said.
“I realized that I kind of want to do that for the rest of my life,” he said.
And now, six months from graduation, the senior’s love of art has continued to grow, with hopes of art school on the horizon. This year, Zanin split his time between South Carroll High and Carroll Community College, taking art classes and, most recently, winning the college’s holiday card competition.
The card competition is in its second year, and winners receive a $150 prize. The winner’s design is used on the college’s digital and printed cards that go out each year.
Zanin’s card design is done in pen and ink style, which is his favorite medium to work in, he said. He likes the hashing style, he said, and the use of lines and shadows.
While he said he’s been trying to get into different styles, and has been working to get better at painting, pen and ink is his go-to.
“I kind of jump from medium to medium, but primarily I work with pen,” he added.
Zanin’s card features a mostly black and white design, though pops of red, blue and green have been added throughout. It shows a snowman holding a “Happy Holidays” sign, a red bird perched atop its head. Off in the distance sits a red farmhouse with smoke billowing from the chimney. The card also features two people sledding, another standing off to the side and waving. In the distance, more people are visible playing in the blanket of snow.
Zanin said he liked drawing the card in the pen and ink style because the hashing creates a really interesting, timeless pattern.
First, he sketched a rough idea, and then went back in to add detail. It took him two or three hours to complete, he said.
And he was surprised and humbled to win.
“I didn’t expect so much to come of it,” Zanin added.
Jessica Hardesty, discipline coordinator of visual arts for the college, was one of the judges this year, along with Scott Gore, division chair of Applied Arts for the college, and Carroll Community College President James Ball.
Hardesty said they had a lot of really good submissions this year. Last year, the competition was schoolwide. This year, it was focused on art students, though Gore said next year it’ll go back to being schoolwide.
“There’s lots of good incentive for students to try for it,” Hardesty said, especially those who are art students, because it’s a great thing to include on a resume.
While there were a lot of good options, Hardesty said Zanin’s design stood out. The judges looked for originality, and something that was neutral in terms of holidays or religion. The design should be well thought out, and there should be time and effort put into it, she added.
“We want to showcase the students who are really putting in the work,” she said.
Zanin’s card was unique, she said, because it was really relatable and nostalgic. Hardesty said it had a nice “vintage” and “old-timey feel” to it, something Gore echoed.
Zanin’s card had a playfulness and traditional feel to it, he said, like that of Norman Rockwell. Simply put, he said, Zanin’s work stood out.
And while the competition is fun, and a chance for a little money and recognition, Gore said it’s also a real-world approach to creating art because students are working in a set of parameters for the competition.
It allows them to be “outside of theory,” he said, and move beyond the classroom.
For Zanin, projects like these are just another chance to do something he loves. Art and drawing bring out a lot of creativity, he said, and work as a form of self-expression, expression of ideas and a chance to communicate.