Rego Park artist wins international illustrator competition, earning a trip to Hollywood and a cash prize

Shiyi Yu, a 22-year-old artist in Rego Park, won an international contest for her other-worldly illustrations. (Photo courtesy of Shiyi Yu)

A young Rego Park artist won the Illustrators of the Future Contest, a competition that receives thousands of applications a year from across the world.

Shiyi Yu, 22, is one of 12 illustrators picked to fly to Hollywood for a week in October, where they will attend professional workshops and an awards ceremony. On top of that, Yu’s artwork will be published in L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 37, a bestselling collection of science-fiction short stories and illustrations.

Yu submitted three watercolor illustrations, all of which combine her fantasy world with reality.

“I like watching anime movies, all kinds of fantasy elements,” Yu said. “And I also take inspiration from real life, [and] the people I meet. I put dreams into reality. It makes life a lot more interesting.”

(Illustration by Shiyi Yu)

John Goodwin, president of Galaxy Press, the agency that runs the contest, said Yu stood out for her unique vision and inspirations from nature and fantasy worlds.

“Anyone can submit and win if they’re creative, they got talent and they can tell a story,” Goodwin said. “This [competition] acts as an encouragement for artists to keep on going.”

(Illustration by Shiyi Yu)

Yu attends the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. She said winning this competition will help her stand out among others her age when applying to internships in the future. Right now, Yu doesn’t have any internships lined up but knows that she has many paths she can choose.

“I’m looking more for the community an internship is in,” Yu said. “The people around me is very important.”

Yu said that the people and community in Queens have played a big part in her inspiration. Yu and her family came to Rego Park after immigrating from China when she was 11 years old.

(Illustration by Shiyi Yu)

“Queens is a very culturally diverse place, very open-minded, open to all races and ideas,” Yu said. “Queens, and New York City in general, is a very artistic place. People are very creative and full of hot blood. I identify with this kind of personality.”

Wherever Yu’s career takes her, she hopes to always express her creativity in everything she does. 

“I [hope] to live fulfilled, to express and using my artistic ability. If I can do that in any shape or form, I’m happy,” Yu said. 

This summer, Yu will be volunteering with AmeriCorps to help her community, which she said is ravaged by homelessness and hunger due to COVID-19.

The Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contest have awarded more than $1 million in prize money and royalties since its inception in 1982. Winners of this contest have gone on to produce comic books and contribute to TV shows and movies.