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Davis Journal

Layton artist wins national award

May 16, 2024 11:52AM ● By Tom Haraldsen
Layton resident Jennifer Mellen was honored at the Illustrators of the Future contest in Hollywood on April 25. Photo courtesy of Galaxy Press

Layton resident Jennifer Mellen was honored at the Illustrators of the Future contest in Hollywood on April 25. Photo courtesy of Galaxy Press

Do you remember any of the assignments you completed while a college student, maybe some assignments that were never submitted for grades? Jennifer Mellen certainly does, and now she’s a winner of a prestigious award from the Illustrators of the Future contest.

The Layton mother of three was chosen as one of 12 winners whose work is published in the bestselling anthology “L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 40,” which was released on May 7. She illustrated the story Nonzero” by Writers of the Future Winner Tom Vandermolen. 

“I first heard about the contest when I went to Salt Lake Community College some time ago,”  she said. “The pieces I submitted were actually from assignments I’d completed in college. I graduated in 2016, but never submitted those assignments.”

In fact, she said she’d “kind of given up on illustrating after I’d done some commissioned paintings for some people. So along with my husband Nathan, we decided to start our own business (SeaDragon Cove), and that led to connections with artists who told me more about the contest.”

Jennifer became inspired to submit her artwork to the contest after meeting Joni Labaqui and Brian Hailes on their panel at the Life the Universe and Everything Symposium held in Salt Lake City. She entered for the first time last year and got an Honorable Mention, but also encouragement to submit her work again. The second time she was chosen a winner, and was honored at a gala held April 25 at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood. She was one of 12 illustrator winners along with 12 writers, among them Vanermolen. 

The contest is now in its 41st year and has had fewer than 600 winners.

“It’s a global competition, so being a part of it is kind of mind blowing,” she said. “It’s like ‘How did I get here?’ and that’s kind of what I was thinking every day while I was in Hollywood at the workshops and at the gala.”

Jennifer was born in 1988 in Salt Lake City and raised in Magna. She has been drawing from a very young age and growing up has explored every medium she could find, including traditional, digital, and sculpting mediums. She has also always loved all things fantasy and creating strange creatures and dragons in her artwork. SeaDragon Cove produced and sold fantasy products at various Renaissance festivals and conventions. They have now joined with We Geek Together Entertainment.

Next up will be some book signings and likely speaking engagements, and of course more creative artwork. And those college assignments that were never turned in for credit? They’ve taken her way beyond academia.