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1-19-24 — Olathe Northwest Senior Wins Visual Arts Competition

Jan. 19, 2024 ~ Andrew Ratzlaff, senior at Olathe Northwest High School, has had a passion for art his whole life, and thanks to the e-Communication Academy at Olathe Northwest, that passion grew into graphic design. Back in December, Ratzlaff won first place in the Digital Illustration and Painting category at the Annual High School Visual Arts Competition put on by the Tim Murphy Art Gallery!

The Annual High School Visual Arts Competition is one of the largest high school art competitions in the Kansas City metro region. Student artists across the region showcase their work in watercolor, pastel, oil, acrylics, drawing, 3D, photography, and digital illustration and painting. Ratzlaff submitted his art piece at the last minute and ended up getting his name called at the December reception with a first-place prize of $150.

Andrew Ratzlaff holds award-winning digital artwork“I was leaning over to tell my dad that I didn’t think I was going to win,” Ratzlaff said. “I got to the point of saying, ‘yeah, I don’t think I’m about to,’ then they called my name, and my dad still won’t let it go. I honestly didn’t expect to win because there were some really amazing pieces there.”

The first-place winning piece, titled “Dave,” is a depiction of Dave Bayley, lead singer and guitarist of Glass Animals. Ratzlaff had just seen Glass Animals in concert before starting the project and was “obsessed” with their music for a while. To create the piece, Ratzlaff used Adobe Illustrator.

“This is a vector piece, so it’s made out of a bunch of small, colored shapes,” Ratzlaff said. “If you look really closely at it, they’re all organic shapes.”

Ratzlaff’s passion for art started in art class at Fairview Elementary School, and since middle school he’s been in an art class every year that he’s been able to choose. There was always a strong interest in drawing and hands-on art, and when it came time to pick a high school to attend, he knew Olathe Northwest was the perfect fit for him.

“I immediately knew I wanted to come here, but I didn’t know for what yet,” Ratzlaff said. “I’d always done artwork by hand, so this school allowed me to learn how to do digital art, which I never touched. I just wanted to learn more even if it didn’t become a career.”

After graduation, Ratzlaff plans to continue pursuing a field in art or graphic design. He is currently committed to the University of Kansas, where he is also considering joining their Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. Ratzlaff hopes someday his artwork can land him a job with a big corporation like the Navy or Red Bull, the latter of which sponsors and does a lot of marketing and design campaigns for sports like Formula 1 Racing and Grand Prix motorcycle racing, two of his favorite sports to watch.

“In this program, we’re learning not just the standards of e-Comm, but also what college students are doing so that we’ll always have a step ahead,” Ratzlaff said. “Maybe this is something I can do.”