2016 ILM Art Department Challenge Winners Announced!

We’re extraordinarily proud to unveil the finalists, Winners & Honorable Mentions, ILM Favorites and Survivors from the 2016 ILM Art Department Challenge!

The ILM Art Department challenge is the first of its kind on this scale with a studio as renowned as Industrial Light & Magic. The goal was to test a new generation of artists to see if they were capable of working as a concept artist on the world’s best-known movie franchise. The planning between ILM and ArtStation alone took the better part of a year before we were ready to announce the challenge on May 4th 2016. At the end of the registration period, 3,888 artists from 101 countries had entered and were ready to experience the highs and lows as a concept artist  working in the Star Wars universe.

David Nakabayashi, ILM Global Art Department Creative Director explains ILM’s thoughts on the challenge: “We were thrilled about this competition as it helped us find new talent that weren’t yet aware of. Most importantly, it gave us the opportunity to remotely mentor people (whether they knew it or not) and help them evolve where they were as far as their craft. There is nothing more exciting than being able to participate in this important, creative community.”

The winners of the 2016 ILM Art Department Challenge are:

1st place: Mario Alberti


2nd place: Morgan Yon



3rd place: Fred Palacio



Honorable Mention: Fan Gao



Honorable Mention: Paul Dainton



Honorable Mention: Matt Rhodes 



Honorable Mention: Pavel Goloviy



Honorable Mention: Riccardo Federici Ricardo


The Briefs

The Art Directors from the ILM Art Department set out a series of briefs around three major challenges, The Moment, The Ride and The Job. Each of the challenges tested different skills, and thought processes to determine if artists could execute the brief  while still bringing their own personality to the work. Check out the briefs.



The Moment (18th – 31st May, 2016)

The Moment challenged entrants to imagine new emotive scenes in the Star Wars universe (Episodes IV-VI) with at least two keyframes. Of the 3,888 entrants, just over 1,000 completed submissions were received for this challenge containing 11,178 artworks, with the judges selecting just 330 artists to go through to the next stage—The Ride.



The Ride (13th – 27th June, 2016)

The Ride challenged artists to design at least two Star Wars vehicles that would fit in to the aesthetic of Star Wars Episodes IV-VI, whether they were Rebel, Imperial, or utilitarian. The judging for The Ride was a little harder with 224 artists who created 4,249 artworks making through to the next stage. A staggering 96% of the entrants for this stage completed their submissions which is unheard of for any art competition.



The Job (11th July – 1st August, 2016)

The final challenge—The Job—was the big one. A concept art bootcamp that would push artists to their limits (especially if they had full-time jobs already) with three weeks to complete six mini challenges. The Job was a simulation of working as a concept artist in a production environment. It was fast-paced. Expectations were high. Directions were vague and were changed at the last minute—all in a regular day’s work at ILM. Despite the deadlines verging on the impossible, a hardcore group of 201 talented artists rose to the challenge, and produced remarkable work on extremely tight schedules (producing 8,164 artworks!). Amazingly, 90% of the artists completed The Job challenge which earned them the title of Survivor (around 5.7% of the artists who started the ILM Art Department Challenge). We are very happy to celebrate all of the artists who completed the entire ILM Art Department Challenge with a Survivors page on the challenge results microsite.


The ILM Art Directors and their Favorites

The ILM Art Directors spent extensive time judging each stage of the ILM Art Department Challenge. When the judging was complete, they went to the trouble of looking over every entry again to highlight the artworks of artists from each stage to show the pieces they found inspiring and interesting. The ILM Favorites is an impressive roundup of 280 entries from The Moment, The Ride and The Job that could easily fill an artbook.



The Prizes

Wacom, ILM and ArtStation have contributed prizes for the winners of the ILM Art Department Challenge. Wacom has provided amazing Cintiq displays, tablets and Bamboos to the winners and Honorable Mentions. ILM is providing once in a lifetime opportunities of studio visits and one-on-one calls with Art Directors, and ArtStation is contributing hoodies, tshirts and Moleskine Sketchbooks. A very big thank you to Wacom and ILM for providing such great prizes! Check them all out here.

To view the Winners and Honorable Mentions, the ILM Favorites, The Briefs, and the Survivors of the 2016 ILM Art Department Challenge, visit the challenge results microsite!

Congratulations to the Winners, Honorable Mentions, Survivors and everyone who participated in the ILM Art Department Challenge!

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About the author

Daniel is the Industry Manager for ArtStation.