Winners Announced in the ILM Art Department Challenge

Three artists are officially the chosen ones.

The ILM Art Department Challenge — a series of rigorous tests designed to find the next great ILM concept artist — wrapped up this week, and three winners have been selected: Mario Alberti, Morgan Yon, and Fred Palacio, whose work can be seen in the gallery below, have all crushed their Jedi trials.

“In the ILM Art Department we are constantly searching for the best and the brightest, and strive to keep a team that will honor the legacy of Joe Johnston and Ralph McQuarrie,” says ILM Art Department senior manager Jennifer Coronado. “We started this competition in the hopes of finding amazing new talent that we had yet to meet. What came out of this competition ultimately, was a deeper connection to the creative community and an even deeper sense of the power of Star Wars to open up the imagination.”

In total, the challenge received over 3,800 entries. The brainchild of ILM creative director David Nakabayashi, the challenge was designed to put entrants into the role of a working concept artist. The competition was divided into three phases: “The Moment,” in which artists had to create two keyframes, or a traditional concept art image; “The Ride,” where artists had to design two Star Wars vehicles; and “The Job,” a simulation of working as a concept artist, where expectations were high and instructions could change. Every piece of art had to fit the look of the original Star Wars trilogy, while at the same, brining something unique to the table.

“This is an opportunity I wish I would have had years ago,” Doug Chiang, veteran Star Wars designer and Lucasfilm’s VP and creative director told at the launch of the challenge, “because I think it would have been something that would have been incredibly informative for me. I think it’s wonderful for general artists to see, ‘What does it really take to do this?’” Now, thousands of artists have that experience.

Congratulations to the winners — we will watch their careers with great interest. All Star Wars, all the time.