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Teen sketches out contest win

Rachel Siffledeen wins poster contest for inaugural Amplify Youth Festival

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Saturday, May 17, 2014 06:00 am

WINNING POSTER – Rachel Siffledeen shows off the poster that won the right to represent the city’s first Amplify Youth Festival next fall.
WINNING POSTER – Rachel Siffledeen shows off the poster that won the right to represent the city’s first Amplify Youth Festival next fall.
APRIL BARTLETT/St. Albert Gazette

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Rachel Siffledeen had never entered a poster competition before, let alone won one.

Yet her entry of a warrior girl was selected to represent St. Albert’s inaugural Amplify Youth Festival next fall on Oct. 17 and 18.

“Just the thought of other people seeing my art is an exciting thing. You get to share it with more people. You don’t just hang it on a wall and share it with Mom. And it’s always cool to know you won something,” said Siffledeen.

The 17-year-old Grade 12 Paul Kane High student first heard of the festival when her art teacher announced the competition. Amplify is a youth-driven arts festival that celebrates teens’ contributions to the community’s cultural fabric.

Siffledeen’s first thought was “it sounds like fun.” After taking time to ponder the theme – Dare to Be You – she came up with a concept built around struggle.

“It’s a girl wearing war paint daring to be herself. It’s a visual metaphor of the battle against society. It’s super easy to conform. It’s harder to stand out and be yourself,” Siffledeen explained.

The young poster illustrator has a knack for taking a complex idea, distilling it and telling a visual story that is captivating and exciting with just a split-second glance.

Hand-sketched using only a pencil, the poster is a blend between realism and comic book fantasy. Yet, it is concisely defined and with a deft touch she has created a graphic that makes a social commentary.

“I wanted the war paint to be the focus. It’s more about rebellion than her. Every teen is rebellious. No one wants to be stereotyped, especially teenagers. We’re all trying to figure out who we are. In Grade 12 we’re all graduating this year and no one knows what’s out there. It’s all about discovery.”

For inspiration, Siffledeen asked her best friend Erika Strytveen to model for the warrior girl.

“She’s fantastic. She’s so beautiful and so smart. She can do anything she wants. She could be a model but she wants to be an engineer. She’s smart in math. She follows what she wants to do and I think that’s awesome,” Siffledeen said.

As for researching war paint designs – stripes, bars and dots – the website Pinterest was a go-to place.

“I looked at different images and chose what would look best on her.”

In addition to the honour of having her work viewed by the public, Siffledeen receives two passes to the festival.

“It’s exciting and I’m glad I had the opportunity. I spent more time on it than anything else and I’m glad I got the chance.”


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