Oklahoma Christian University senior Miranda Patton is working towards her dreams one award nomination at a time, as she was recently nominated for possible inclusion in the Illustration Annual edition of Communications Arts Magazine.
Originally from Sunnyvale, TX, Patton said she first graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2013 with a fine arts degree, but quickly realized she would have trouble getting a job. She said she decided to return to Oklahoma Christian to earn her second undergraduate degree — this time in communication design.
“I could not find a job,” Patton said. “No one wanted to hire someone with a fine arts degree who didn’t know how to do other things.”
According to Patton, she discovered her underlying artistic abilities after she returned to Oklahoma Christian.
“I was fortunate enough to come back,” Patton said. “I didn’t even realize I could draw until I got here.”
Patton said her Oklahoma Christian professors encouraged her talent by telling her about opportunities for awards and recognition. Specifically, Director of Communication Design Michael O’Keefe told Patton about the Communication Arts Magazine. Patton said O’Keefe pushed her to create her best works.
“Michael O’Keefe, he is the scariest, greatest person you will ever meet,” Patton said. “That man is a wonderful professor and I’m very grateful for him.”
After teaching Patton in his fall semester illustration class, O’Keefe said he recognized her talent and leadership abilities. According to O’Keefe, Patton helps create a strong and supportive community in her classes and encourages those around her.
O’Keefe also said Patton took initiative and entered the competition on her own. Due to O’Keefe’s positive comments and feelings about the magazine, Patton said she felt encouraged to submit her illustration.
“Communication Arts Magazine is the premier publication for creative people in communication design,” O’Keefe said. “It is one of the toughest professional competitions for creativity in the industry.”
Patton said after she made the decision to submit some of her work, she needed to consider what type of work to submit. She said she looked through her portfolio and decided to submit one recent illustration, which was completed in 2017.
“It was a self-portrait,” Patton said. “I’m not really big on faces so it’s just the back of my head and a cat — a geometric cat on the back.”
Although Patton said personally selecting the piece wasn’t difficult, she had to consider what the judges would think. She said she made a few changes so it would meet the expected standards.
“Of course you have to tweak it a little when you’re thinking about who looks at it, because you have national art directors and creative directors looking at it,” Patton said. “You tailor it to their likes.”
Patton said the opportunity to be featured in the Communication Arts Magazine is a unique experience, as the magazine receives around 70-80,000 entries per year. After the review process, she said she was one of 75 students selected for the shortlist.
“It’s a big deal, but mostly it’s for people already in the industry,” Patton said. “You’ll have people who have been doing it 10-20 years. I really think, ‘I want to be just like you when I grow up.’”
Although the competition is intense, junior, communication design major Daniel Marshall said Patton only turns in work if it looks exactly the way she wants it to.
“She does not accept anything but perfection,” Marshall said. “She is literally a perfectionist.”
Patton said the nomination could create opportunities for a job in the future. She also said she wants to use her illustrations to help others, rather than contribute to materialism.
“I would love to work for a nonprofit,” Patton said. “The older I get, the more I realize I don’t want to use my art to sell things that people don’t need and make them feel bad for not having it. That’s what I was doing for a while and it doesn’t make my soul happy.”
If nonprofit work does not work out, Patton said her dream job is to work for Disney. Although opportunities to work at Disney are limited, Patton said she hopes this nomination will impress potential future employers.
“That’s my dream job — a Disney concept artist,” Patton said. “I would be happy all the time.”
Patton said she will find out soon whether her illustration won the final award or not. She said no matter what happens, she feels it was the right decision to enter, and a great learning opportunity.
“I’m grinning ear to ear about it, but I’m really nervous at the same time,” Patton said. “So we’ll see what happens.”