Cut&Paste Digital Design Tournament

by New Idiom


Designers show us the money.

I don’t like just anybody peering over my shoulder while I design. Imagine having four hundred people watch you command key your way to blissful design nirvana on a sexy 21” pressure sensitive Wacom Cintiq monitor. That’s what it takes to be Tewz, the crowned finalist of this year’s Cut & Paste digital design tournament held at Chicago’s Logan Square Auditorium. Now in its second year and in eleven cities this fall, a community of design peers, industry leaders and enthusiasts—aka the public—can come together to share the inner workings of the creative process. Grass-rooted in New York two years ago by Executive Director John Fiorelli, Cut and Past has steadily grown its appeal. Part of that may be that as designers we compete all the time but we are used to doing so anonymously (and usually for a piece of business). We never get to compete as individuals and never ever in the public.

The show begins with a starting lineup of eight brilliant contestants and five luminary judges. The rules of creativity are as follows:

  1. All work must be completed in 15 minutes
  2. Competitors are provided themes for each round one week in advance
  3. Competitors may bring in approved artifacts to capture with a digital camera
  4. All approved artifacts are available for anyone to use during any round
  5. All finished artwork must be constructed from scratch, therefore no photographs or pre-made digital elements are allowed.
  6. Tools including digital cameras or the Wacom Cintiq are for the designers’ benefit but not required to be used during the competition.

Entries are reviewed by the panel of judges on the basis of originality, concept, relevance, technical execution and overall dopeness.

In the first round eight contestants were given the theme of currency. You know, money. In the first heat of round 01, four of the eight challengers faced off: Tara Lynch, Leilah Rampa, Kyle LaMere and Eamon Madigan. Having spoken with CNP judge Nigel Evan Dennis minutes before the first round, I was surprised to find him nervous at the thought of actually having the responsibility to judge anyone based on their creative excellence. Speaking modestly of his own design skills, he mentioned recently hiring an ID grad at Vessel, so I knew he would be a good judge of character. In the second heat of the first round, Tony Ruth, Tewz (aka hundred proof), Rene Mendez and Narcisco Carlos face off. Having spoken with Tony before his warm-up session, I found out this former product illustrator can pack all the profound technicality of a slick product illustration with some sweet freestyle photoshop moves. How does he keep focused under the 15 minute time frame? Tony’s got a 15 minute playlist. When he hears the last track he’s gotta be finessing that bottom layer. From the first two heats we saw impressive technical skill, a little frustration from the judges on the overuse of dollar signs. Tony’s exploded-out Euros, a Russian Constructivist dollar sign dripping into Matisse like hands and a green and greedy satanical pitchfork all had my vote. Kyle LaMere and Tewz advanced to the final round after the semifinal round: Through the Looking Glass. Kyle LaMere raced off stage to photograph a woman dressed as Alice in Wonderland. Not everyone had such mad props.


The final round theme is premonition. The caviat? Make the canvas a liquor bottle. Kyle and Tewz couldn’t be more different in their graphic styles. We saw from the start Tewz’s street style heavy with halftones and very layer intensive, though consistent in his lucidity. Kyle’s style just as high up on the illustrator rictor scale, his concepts were more balanced on his conceptual integrity and richness of palette. As we came to the last minutes of the final round, Tewz battled forward with his line illustration and pure drawing skillz and Kyle made us want “One, one, one and your done, done, done” beer. If you care to see all of the action up close please enjoy this behind-the-scenes Idiom exclusive. I highly recommend going to the next one as the energy is intense, the cheering crowd and simulcasting make for an interesting blend of technology and all out party.

Thank you to Erica Yamada, 1st year MDes for all her photography.