Firefly Poster Winner

NCHS Senior Poster Selected

By JOHN P. EVANS III

Count North Caroline High School as “two for two” when it comes to the Firefly Music Festival poster contest.
It was announced last month that the entry by NCHS senior Nick Koski had been selected as this year’s Fan Favorite winner for the music event, which is scheduled for June.

Koski follows the lead made by Luke Martin, who won the same poster contest for the 2015 Firefly event.
“I was really excited that my entry was the winner, it’s a pretty big contest with a lot of competition,” said Koski. “I wanted to enter last year when Luke won, but you had to be 18 years old to enter. So I had to wait a year.”
The Firefly Music Festival is a relatively new music event, being held at the Woodlands venue at the Dover International Speedway. It is a four-day music event from June 16-19. The contest was founded to involve local art students in the area.

Both students credited North Caroline High School art teacher Kurt Plinke with being their main supporter in developing their interest and abilities in art. They also credited the other two art teachers at the school for helping them hone their skills.

“I wasn’t really interested seriously in art until I got to North Caroline,” said Koski, who said he is more interested in studying Philosophy as his major when he attends Towson University in the fall. Martin also chose Towson, but for its art department where he began his studies last fall.

“Mr. Plinke has really been an influence. I’ve learned a lot from what he teaches,” Koski added. “What helped me (in the contest) was to take what I had learned from him and the other teachers and apply it to my idea.”

The Firefly Festival has many distinct features – its music, its location and its tradition of putting together a lineup of musicians ranging from new acts to some of the country’s biggest groups. Last year, Paul McCartney was one of the headline acts.

Martin heard of the poster contest in 2014 and approached Plinke about helping him enter. Plinke obliged and also made a suggestion to other students to enter to fulfill a class requirement.

“Both Luke and Nick were students in Drawing II, a class I teach here at North Caroline High School, although they took the class in different years,” said Plinke. “In that advanced art class, students are given their choice of many assignments, one of which is to plan and create an advertisement or poster for a product or event. In both cases, they chose to create entries for the Firefly Music Festival’s poster contest. As they worked to complete this assignment they researched work by other artists, planned their work, and wrote about their experience after they completed the project.”

“I spent a lot of time with layout and design. I wrote out some ideas based on their requirements and what the Festival was all about. After I made a draft of my idea, I developed it more and ultimately used Adobe Illustrator to create the image file that I sent to them,” added Koski.

Koski’s final design centered around a central theme of a hot air balloon, one of the festival’s iconic symbols, with the name of the event – Firefly Music Festival – in contrasting colors.

Two posters are selected each year, one by a panel of judges and the other through fans’ voting on the internet. Koski’s was selected through the fans’ vote.

Plinke credited Martin for bringing the idea of entering the contest to his attention as an opportunity to fulfill class requirements.

“I actually was unaware of the contest until Luke brought it to my attention last year,” said Plinke. “We discussed adapting the existing assignment to fit the parameters of the contest, and he got busy planning and creating his poster. This year, in the class, Nick came to me and said that he would like to enter the contest. We had already modified the assignment so that students could complete projects as contest entries, and so it was natural for him to then choose that assignment as one of his projects.”

The back-to-back wins also provide an example of just how good the art program is in the county, not just at North Caroline but also at Colonel Richardson. He said that while Martin and Koski are exceptional art students, there are many others as well.

“Both (Martin and Koski) are exceptional young men, and very talented as artists,” Plinke said. “Both of them seem to share a couple of traits that I’m sure not only led to them winning the Firefly competition, but also are certain to make them successful in whatever they wind up choosing to do.

“Both seem to be driven to create and produce art,” he added. “It certainly made them a pleasure to have in class, because they could just be turned loose on a new assignment, and they would dig in and really think about what they were doing. They also both shared similar active imaginations. Their work was always just a little out of the box and exceptionally well done.’

As for the entire county, Plinke said the overall outlook for art education was good and that interest remains strong.
‘Like most teachers at North Caroline High School, I usually teach around 80 students each semester. My classes are Foundations of Art, Drawing and Color classes. There are three art teachers at NCHS, including myself, Ms. Visnesky and Ms. Rehak. The other two are both exceptional art teachers, and have also taught both of these students.

Martin has decided to pursue graphic design at Towson while Koski said he plans to study art, but major in Philosophy.

“I’m open to see where the poster contest takes me and how my interest in art carries me through college. I am still interested to find out if I can make money selling my art,” added Koski.

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