Loyola first-year Maksym “Max” Polishchuk was among the winners of a prestigious international art contest, Writers and Illustrators of the Future, earlier this month. Polishchuk’s pencil drawings of science fiction and fantasy scenes won him a prize of $500 and a trip to Los Angeles for an illustration workshop.
Born in Ukraine, 18-year-old Polishchuk has been living in Round Lake since his first year of high school. Growing up, his parents encouraged him to study the arts — specifically, dance, music, painting and drawing. When a friend recommended he submit some of his work to the 29th annual Writers and Illustrators of the Future contest, he liked the idea.
“I submitted three illustrations from a project I did for my [Advanced Placement] art concentration [in high school],” Polishchuk said. “I went to art school in Ukraine for six years, so it was like a hobby for me. I was good at it, so I just continued.”
Inspired by a love of fantasy novels and history, Polishchuk draws detailed depictions of gothic architecture and medieval scenes. One of the illustrations that won him third place in the contest was inspired by “Harry Potter” — it depicts a cloaked figure looking out the window of a castle.
The fantasy and science fiction genre of writing is what inspired L. Ron Hubbard to start the Writers of the Future contest in 1983, with the illustration contest being added in 1988. Hubbard wrote a number of best-selling sci-fi novels but is probably best known for founding the controversial Church of Scientology.
Hubbard created the contests with the intention of jump-starting the careers of young fantasy writers and illustrators. There are three contests each year, each with 12 finalists and three winners. Those winners attend an awards ceremony at the Wilshire Ebell Club Theatre in Los Angeles and have their work published in the yearly anthology, “L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future.” Previous winners include award-winning fantasy novelist Patrick Rothfuss, film novelist Dean Wesley Smith and Tim Burton-inspired artist Shaun Tan.
Polishchuk will illustrate one of this year’s winning stories, and his work will be featured in Vol. 34 of the anthology. His illustration, due by the end of November, is almost completed.
“I like focusing on detail and that’s usually my main problem,” Polishchuk said. “I do so much detail that I don’t really have enough time to finish.”
Polishchuk used part of his cash prize to purchase an iPad, which has allowed him to delve into digital drawing. Up until now, he’s only illustrated by hand.
“I like the feeling of actual pencil drawing,” Polishchuk said. “But [digital art] is much more efficient. Colors are much more vibrant… it’s just more convenient. Everything is evolving, so I have to evolve, too.”
Polishchuk said he wants to somehow combine his political science major with his love of art and teased a few “secret” ideas he’s already come up with.
“I’m thinking of doing more abstract philosophical stuff, like political cartoons,” Polishchuk said. “Only more painting style, instead of cartoonish. But it’s sometimes hard to balance education and art.”
Polishchuk said he’s looking forward to attending the illustration workshop and the 34th annual Writers and Illustrators of the Future Achievement Awards ceremony April 8, 2018.
For more information about the Writers and Illustrators of the Future contest or to submit work, visit www.writersofthefuture.com.