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CSU Channel Islands Students Earn Top Honors at Media Arts Festival

By Nancy Gill for CSU Channel Islands |

Two CSU Channel Islands art students earned top honors for their websites at the 2012 CSU Media Arts Festival this month. Senior Arturo Cortez won first place and senior Stephen Morton won second place in the competition’s Interactive Media category.

The annual festival, held Nov. 10 at Cal State Fullerton, recognizes the best in film, video and interactive media work by students from all 23 CSU campuses.

Cortez, 27, of Oxnard, was one of 12 students statewide to earn a first-place Rosebud Award and $500 prize. His award-winning personal website blends art and technical skill, showcasing his resumé and portfolio of work in graphic design, web design, motion graphics and animation. Its standout feature is a moving hologram of Cortez that pays homage to his favorite film, Star Wars.

Cortez has worked his way through college as a software salesman and freelance designer.  His career goal is to work in theatrical design, creating movie posters and DVD covers.

“This award means a lot to me and validates all the effort I put into my design work,” he said. “If you don’t have a website or an online presence, especially for your business, then don’t expect to be called. It is a necessity now, especially if you’re a designer. Paper portfolios are great and still being used, but are unfortunately fading away. Plus, it also feels good to see a dot-com after your name.”

Morton, 22, of San Diego, garnered second place in the Interactive Media category for his experimental personal website. The website incorporates bold Web design, animation and digital illustration in a user-friendly, easy-to-navigate format.

“The website I submitted for the Media Arts Festival was an attempt to break out of my comfort zone and incorporate some new and original designs,” Morton said. “That’s why this award means so much to me; it means that I’m heading in the right direction. Just being recognized for my work is more than I could’ve asked for.”

In his spare time, Morton works as a freelance web designer for small start-up businesses. He hopes to find a career in video game development.

Both students designed their websites as an assignment in the Art 324 Web Design class taught by associate professor of art Liz King, who also encouraged them to enter the competition. CI art students — many of them King’s — have performed well in the CSU Media Arts Festival year after year. This is the 10th consecutive year that CI students have won awards.

“I’m so proud of their work,” said King, who teaches graphic and web design, multimedia and computer animation. “I love showing students how to use a software program and seeing how they combine it with their artistic and design talents to create interesting and useful applications. Before they graduate, they have a portfolio website that helps them establish their identity as a designer and enter the workforce. Their technical skills make them more marketable as artists. Many of our students land web design jobs before they graduate.”

The Media Arts Festival allows students in the CSU system the opportunity to be judged in professional competition. A total of 164 student entries were received and evaluated by a panel of faculty and industry experts who chose 40 finalists for award competition in nine categories: animation, documentary, experimental, interactive, music video, narrative, television, feature screenplay and short screenplay.

— Nancy Gill is the director of communication and marketing for CSU Channel Islands.

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