Stoke-on-Trent cartoonist Cara wins top prize for her artwork

A University of Staffordshire student will have her work on display at a London museum after winning a prestigious prize in the Young Cartoonist of the Year competition. Cara Grainger, in her second year studying cartooning and comics, won the Under 30 award with her article on the importance of art.

The 22-year-old, who lives in Longport, will receive a certificate at an event at the Cartoon Museum in May, alongside an exhibition of artwork by winners and runners-up. More than 150 entries were received for the competition, which is organized by the Cartoon Museum in Fitzrovia, with winners in three age categories decided by a jury of British newspapers and comics.

Previous winners of the competition include Nick Edwards (2009), who won an Emmy for his work on the animated television series Uncle Grandpa, New York cartoonist Will McPhail and political cartoonist Matt Buck. Now in its 26th year, the competition was originally established as the Mel Calman Young Cartoonist Competition, in memory of the Times cartoonist and founder of the Cartoon Arts Trust.

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Cara first went to college to study criminology, but realized that art was the right path for her. His winning cartoon emphasizes the importance of art and artists for society.

She said: “As far back as I can remember I’ve always drawn, not always cartoons, but ever since I was a kid I knew I wanted to be any artist. When it came to applying in college, I decided not to pursue art anymore and instead went into criminology.

Cara’s winning entry in the Under 30 category of the Young Cartoonist of the Year competition

“After a few years I realized that art wasn’t just a childhood dream – it was what I was made for. I got back into drawing and again applied to college, this time doing what I love.

“While preparing the submission, I knew I wanted to make a statement about the importance of art. I think a lot of people take for granted how important artists are in our society.

“From the clothes we wear to the shows we watch, art is everywhere and without it life would be very boring indeed. I hope I managed to get that point across in my cartoon.”

Cara entered the competition as part of her job for the second year of her undergraduate course and learned she had won while she was home sick with Covid.

She said: “We’ve spent the first term learning about the cartoon industry and all that goes into making a good cartoon. In all honesty, if it wasn’t for all I learned this term, I wouldn’t have entered the contest, let alone Won.

“I was at home with Covid when my friend from the course called to tell me the news. I thought he was joking with me or maybe it was a hallucination that I was sick.

“He had to put my speaker on the phone before I believed him. It caught me so off guard and I was so excited I couldn’t even speak properly after that. I just started dancing around the house .The title alone is more than I ever dreamed of.”

She is now concentrating on her lessons and preparing to sell her work at MCM London Comic Con in late May, as part of an artist group called Gegonos Comics.

Gareth Cowlin, Lecturer in Cartooning and Comics at the University of Staffordshire, said: “All staff and students in the Cartooning and Comics Diploma are incredibly proud of Cara. Like many of the best cartoons, Cara’s idea is deceptively simple, but its execution is the result of many hours of hard work, where she came up with several different ideas and refined the strongest one into her winning form.

“In fact, some recognition should also go to the entire cartoon and comic sophomore year, who rose to the challenge of ‘finding the funny’ in these difficult times with the requisite flair and enthusiasm. “

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