Design Partners Win NoMAA Arts Stroll Poster Contest

By Daniel P. Bader. Reprinted from The Manhattan Times.

A Washington Heights couple has won the 2009 Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance Uptown Art Stroll Poster Contest.

Smashmanor.com design partners Fernando Christopher Ciprian and Brezzy Higa’s poster, a black and white, almost industrial looking image of the George Washington Bridge with a patterned stream of color pouring across the span, was dubbed the winner, garnering 34 out of 86 votes at the first Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance Artist’s Salon of 2009.

The over 100 attendees of the March 30 event, held at and sponsored by Workspace, the modern office rentals above the Manhattan Mini Storage on Broadway and W. 213th Street, were asked to vote on five finalists selected by NoMAA. The names of the contestants were kept secret so voters would make their selections solely based on how well the design captured the spirit of the Uptown Arts Stroll, the month-long arts festival in Washington Heights and Inwood now it its seventh year.

“We had maybe six or seven ideas,” said Ciprian. “It was really tough to decide which to do.”

Ciprian and Higa, who are a couple as well as business partners, have recently finished work on a Web site for In Vino Veritas, a wine bar in Northern Manhattan, and www.electrictweed.com, a site for a Brooklyn-based artist. Ciprian is a freelance graphic designer (his clients include the Manhattan Times) and Higa is a senior designer at Bank of America.

NoMAA received 26 submissions for the contest and a panel of judges, composed of community members and artists, narrowed it down to the five finalists.

“We wanted to have something that was original, catchy to the eye,” said NoMAA executive director Sandra García Betancourt. “From the very beginning there were three that most people voted for.”

Bentacourt said that for this year’s contest a large number of graphic designers, all from Northern Manhattan, submitted posters. That says something about the body of talent available in the area, she said.

“[Higa] was the one who started with the image,” Ciprian said. “We both kind of played with the elements. We always work like that.”

In addition to the honor of creating the poster that will blanket Northern Manhattan during June’s Stroll, the duo received $500, which they plan to use for professional business cards and to pay for paperwork to establish their design business as a limited liability company.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Ciprian said. “We were happy to be finalists.”

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