Meet Awards Alum Keiji Ishida

Photo courtesy of Keiji Ishida

In May we traveled virtually to California to “visit” Carolina. This month, we’ll be hanging around in California a bit longer–not for the sunshine and beaches, but to meet our latest alum, Keiji Ishida! In 2017 Keiji received a Gold Medal Portfolio for Painting. Since then, he’s traveled around Europe, illustrated for notable brands like HUF and Apple, and even held his first international solo exhibition, Paris Playground, at an influential skate shop in Paris. Read on to hear more from Keiji about his journey from high schooler to country-hopping visual artist. Be sure to check out Keiji’s prompt at the bottom of the post, where you’ll also find out how to share your art or writing inspired by the prompt for the chance to win a gift card!

Q & A with Keiji Ishida

Keiji’s first commissioned work, for Apple’s grand opening at the Champs-Élysées in Paris, 2018

Q: What impact did receiving your Award have on you and your path?

The Award has made it possible for me afford art college and travel around Europe.

Q: How did you pursue your creativity after high school?

After high school, I moved to Paris, France to study Graphic Design at PCA (Paris College of Art). Since Paris has a rich history in print making, there I got my hands on print machines that inspired me to produce publications, books, zines, etc.

Q: What are you up to now?

I am currently studying illustration design at ArtCenter College of Design in California. As a skateboarder, my current interest is in skateboard culture and I also do freelance illustration jobs for clients such as HUF, Apple, and AirWalk.

“High Ollie” Painting by Keiji Ishida, 2020

Q: Where can people find your work?

You can check out my work at my website or on Instagram.

Q: Anything else you want to share with young artists and writers, and the people supporting them?

No matter how great the quality of your work is, the most important thing about art is the story. What are you trying to tell us? What are you trying to express? How is this important to you? Those are just some questions you should be asking to yourself. These are very difficult questions but in my own experience, it has helped me lead my passion in what I do today.

Start.Write.Now Prompt from Keiji Ishida

A note from Keiji on finding his inspiration: Before this pandemic, what inspired me to create was to go to galleries and museums to see an artwork up close and experience the dynamic scale and feel the energy from the colors and texture of the work. Currently, I watch and listen to art documentaries on YouTube, Netflix, podcasts, etc. It helps me concentrate and get ideas for my next work, but also helps me keep track of what is happening around the art world. Some great resources to check out include “The Art Assignment” by PBS, “The Blueprint” by Complex, and TEDx.

The Prompt: Create something new from patterns you find in your previous work.

A note from Keiji: What really changed me the most as an artist was looking back to my early work (meaning drawings from preschool or even kindergarten) and analyzing the symbolism and narrative that I was showcasing. By closely looking at all the work since the day I began drawing, interestingly, I noticed my goal in art hasn’t really changed. My prompt for students is to find all your artwork, display it chronologically, and find if there is any “pattern” in your work. This “pattern” may help you understand what is important for you.

Start.Write.Now Reminders!

As a reminder, all responses to the Start.Write.Now post are due July 9. Email your responses to us at with the subject line “Start.Write.Now.” Make sure to review our guidelines for participating before emailing in your work. Everyone is invited to use this prompt as inspiration for your work this summer, even if you choose not to or are ineligible to participate in the Start.Write.Now challenge. 

Check back on July 15 to see to see the works that this prompt inspired and who will be our lucky gift card winners! On July 16, come back to meet our next featured alumnus and see the July Start.Write.Now prompt.  

All participants must be 13 years of age or older, and follow the Scholastic Awards eligibility criteria. For more information on participating, please see our full guidelines.

Have something thoughtful to share?

Email us at to share your inspiration. We want to hear from you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: