On Thursday, Aug 31, 2023 RMCAD celebrated the college’s biannual Radiance Awards and welcomed two alumni and honorees to campus to host in-person talks and virtual workshops. Instituted in 2019, the Radiance Awards celebrates alumni who have shown excellence in their chosen fields. This year’s winners, Xi Zhang (Fine Arts, 2008) and Luke Flowers (Illustration, 2000), truly radiate the core values of RMCAD! We caught up with Zhang and Flowers, and they told us about their careers, their wisdom, and their RMCAD experience!
How did you know which RMCAD program was right for you?
“When did I decide to be a painter above anything else? Sometimes the universe just tells you. I do not know really if I chose art, or if art chose me. As a kid, I just wanted to do something I could share with everyone in my life. My father is an established calligrapher who studied painting when he was in college, and my mother is also a very talented painter. Because of them, I think my true passion is in creating images I can share.”
“In high school, I was drawn to storytelling and I wanted to do something with illustration. At that time, I didn’t know which direction that would take me. RMCAD is where I started to understand all the different ways I could become a storyteller through illustration. That’s when I learned more about children’s books which planted the seeds for later in my career.”
What does it mean to you to win this year’s Radiance Award?
“It’s such an honor. In my class, there were so many talented people that I can remember, so I was honored to be selected for this award because I know there were a lot of other great alumni. The first thing that came to my mind was my fond memories of RMCAD, so I knew that this was going to be a great opportunity for me.”
“When I first heard, I was a little surprised but I felt really honored. I hadn’t been as connected to the school over the years as I had hoped to have been, so it was a huge surprise! Getting this remarkable opportunity to reconnect with this community full of hundreds of students on the same path that I was on 23 years ago and seeing their incredible work, I feel honored to still be part of this community.”
What is one piece of advice you would give to young artists?
“Passion! You’re going to face so many rejections, but there is one thing that will keep your relationship with your art fresh, passion. You must invest so much emotion, time, and resources. At the end of the day, if the passion is there then everything will work out. It’s just like any other relationship, if you’re passionate, then you know the relationship is worthwhile to pursue.”
“The advice I would like to give students is to think about the people who are further along in the career you want. Even if they are just a couple of years ahead of you, consider reaching out to them. I was always surprised by the people further down the road who were willing to help me and share their resources. Those people helped me a lot. Then, also consider who you are ahead of and how you can share your resources with them.”
Thank you to Zhang and Flowers for their time and sharing their remarkable journeys with us! Please click below to learn more about the impactful work of Xi Zhang and Luke Flowers. To see even more Radiance honorees from over the years, take a look at previous winners Jenny Morgan and Paul Trani.
Many of the quotes in this story have been edited for brevity and clarity by the author, but are meant to retain the significance and purpose of the original speaker.