FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (AP) — Filling in coloring books as a kid growing up in Jamaica, Michael Talbot never imagined his passion for art would win him a prize in an international illustration contest and a trip to Hollywood.
A 2012 arrival in Framingham, he was one of 24 artists and authors from around the world who will be honored Sunday, April 13, as Writers and Illustrators of the Future in a gala celebration at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles.
The 20-year-old sophomore at Lesley University College of Art and Design was the only Bay Stater among 12 illustrators who will be honored at the 30th L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Awards.
Talbot was selected from numerous applicants, including artists from Japan, Mexico, Egypt, Portugal and the U.S., based on several drawings he submitted that featured abstract montages, including a futuristic self-portrait and a strikingly realistic portrait of a Middle Eastern man, drawn with confident flourishes.
Tall and slim with a lilting Jamaican accent, Talbot said, “I try to capture as much expression in my art as I can.”
“To be honest, I don’t think I’m anything extraordinary or beyond the typical artist or art lover” said the all-A student. “But, I do believe I’m able to make an impact on people through my art. That’s precisely what I will strive to do.”
When he’s not attending seven classes, Talbot dreams of illustrating his own graphic novel and also draws dreamy and evocative images of his favorite recording artist, Regina Spektor. He admires the style and color palette of graphic artist Craig Thompson.
After graduating from high school in Jamaica’s capital, Kingston, Talbot immigrated to Framingham in 2012 to join his mother and stepfather, Patricia and Paul Ramsay. His stepfather encouraged him to apply for the contest after seeing an ad in “The Ultimate Scholarship Book, 2014.”
Talbot recalled filling in coloring books his mother gave him as a child. Though he enjoying playing soccer and swimming as a youngster, he devoted himself to art in high school, often drawing posters for school dances or different clubs’ activities.
Even before leaving Jamaica, he applied for admission at Leslie University based on its reputation for a strong illustration department. He’s majoring in graphic design and illustration.
Talbot has already won $500 for being selected among the top 12 illustrators and is in contention for one of the two $5,000 grand prizes that will be announced at the gala. His art will also be published in the Science Fiction/Fantasy anthology series — “L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume XXX.”
He’s especially looking forward to a week of workshops prior to the gala and the chance to meet award-winning artists who’ll serve as awards presenters, including Cliff Nielsen who illustrated the covers for a recent series of C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” series, Larry Elmore who illustrated the “Dungeons and Dragons” book covers and Steven Hickman who illustrated more than 400 book covers.
L. Ron Hubbard, for whom the award is named, founded the Church of Scientology around 1950. He was a prolific science fiction writer whose best known novel are “Battlefield Earth” and “Mission Earth.”
Prof. David Bondar, who teaches Talbot painting for illustration, described him as “a great, great student and one of the nicest kids.”
He said “from day one,” Talbot stood out as “incredibly enthusiastic” about learning new techniques to embellish an already distinctive style.
“I’ve been teaching about 10 years and Michael is one of those students you know will make a living doing art,” he said. “He has his own unique style and a natural ability to render things well.”
Talbot’s mother said, “I wasn’t surprised Michael won the contest. He has a natural talent. But he was blown away.”
When he’s home, Talbot attends Greater Framingham Community Church with his mother.
“Michael always filled in coloring books I brought him and also drew when he was young,” recalled Patricia Ramsay. “There was a time he wanted to be a zoologist. I told Michael, ‘Do whatever you want. You’ll be excellent at it.’