Japan Day 2012

Cherry BlossomArt Contest Results

THE WINNER – Mr. Aaron Porter

AaronPorter_ReducedAaron is originally from Chicago and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Scientific Illustration from Northern Illinois University. He began his career as a newspaper artist in South Florida in 1988 in a pre-digital world. Aaron first worked for the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, then the Miami Herald. While in South Florida, Aaron earned a MFA in painting at the University of Miami.

Shortly after finishing his course work, he was accepted into the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program the summer of 1998. He taught English in four junior high schools in Yawata City (Kyoto Prefecture) and still to this day considers it the most exciting three years of his life. While in Japan, he spent his spare time getting to know Japanese culture and painting. His paintings during this period were most often about Japanese culture. During his time in Japan, he had a painting exhibition at the Kyoto International Center in Kyoto Station as well as a number of other small shows in coffee houses and wherever he could get his work shown.

Aaron returned to the States the summer of 2001 and began his new career in newspapers at The Journal News in White Plains, New York. Presently, Aaron is a part-time digital art instructor at the Bronx Community College as well as a freelance graphic artist and illustrator.

Aaron is married to a Japanese woman from Fukuoka whom he met in New York City after he returned from Japan. They live in Up State New York, visit NYC often and travel to Japan each year to visit her family. Much to his wife’s disappointment he speaks very little Japanese.


Here are the honorable mentions!

Chris Dina

PrintHe is an award winning graphic designer based in New York City. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Chris has worked for renowned design firms specializing in print, corporate identity and brand environments. Collaborating with a distinguished list of architects, developers and clients, Chris has led design efforts for cultural institutions, universities, office towers, media and entertainment, parks, and hospitality. Notable accomplishments include identity and sign graphics for ESPN’s Nagano Olympic coverage, Philadelphia’s Comcast Center, Radio City Music Hall and Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center. International work includes Hoshi Kodomo Otona (Family) Clinic and building contractor Fuji Kensetsu in Saitama, Japan. Chris’ work has been published in Pictograms & Icon Graphics 2, Graphis Logo Design 6, and Brand Identity Essentials. He recently participated in Intertidal Age – Taiwan’s first international graphic design exhibit at the Taipei World Design Expo 2011.


Keri Dodge

She is a professional illustrator and New York native.
Keri has been drawing ever since she could hold a pencil, and eventually earned her BFA in Illustration at St. John’s University. There, she gained editorial experience doing work as an illustrator and art director of the university’s newspaper; The Torch and The Spectator, and also earned multiple best in show awards and other recognitions. Keri continues to create freelance work such as character designs, storyboards and sequential illustrations for clients, in addition to her own independent projects. She has working experience in editorial, sequential, design, visual development and story art. She especially enjoys reading and working on fairy tales, fantasy and adventure books, graphic novels and animation related projects. Keri loves having a career where she can tell stories with the use of her artistic talents. Keri Dodge Illustration www.keridodge.com



Ardith Ibañez Nishii

She studied Design at Stanford University (’94) and enjoyed a multidisciplinary art education that prepared her for a colorful career path exploring various industries and media — from graphic design to costume design. Her specialty is portraiture and is heavily influenced by her Filipino-American heritage, Shepard Fairey, Egon Schiele, Syd Mead, comic books, graphic novels and Japanese culture and design. Ardith is best known for her corporate web design work and 3 web design books from the past 17 years. Clients include Mally Beauty, Isaac Mizrahi, The North Face, Beringer Vineyards, Sony Pictures, and W Hotels. Her philosophy is rooted in the idea that the intersection of art and design belong in the everyday lives of everyday people. Her goal is to use her illustration talent in motion graphics, film and TV projects. She is back in Los Angeles, enjoying family life and the weather. www.ibaneznishii.com



Ken Sheldon

He is a Japanese-American designer and photo editor from Los Angeles. After moving with family to New York as a teenager, he attended the Rhode Island School of Design to study industrial design. After graduating, he returned to New York and gained experience in graphic design, fashion, and photography, before studying advertising at the School of Visual Arts. Ken likes to spend his free time watching baseball and hopes to one day travel to Australia.





Sara Woolley

She is an award-winning artist and illustrator living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Received her MFA from the Academy of Art University, SF 2003. Her work has been twice recognized by the New York Society of Illustrators, by the Society of Illustrator Los Angeles, and by 3×3 Magazine of Contemporary Illustration. Her most recent project graphic novel: Los Pirineos, The mostly true memoirs of Esperancita Gómez, was chosen as an award recipient by the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC) Fund for the Arts.Written by Sara’s mother, Leila Gómez Woolley and featuring Sara’s illustrations, the fictionalized memoir Los Pirineos, chronicles a young girl’s upbringing in and eventual exile from Colombia. A longtime enthusiast of the art, stories, and cultural richness of Japan, Sara is deeply honored to be a selected artist for Central Park’s Japan Day 2012.

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