Samantha Williams has enjoyed art lessons for the past two years at Slinger High School.
But the young up-and-comer never imagined that one of her projects would win a competition, let alone be featured on hundreds of thousands of vehicles.
Williams’ design of two people on a lake with a moon and stars above has been selected as the winner of the 2024 Wisconsin State Park and Forest Vehicle Admission Poster Design Competition.
The Ministry of Natural Resources announced the results of the competition on Thursday. About 150 designs were submitted for this year’s competition, according to the agency.
Williams’ image will be printed on annual vehicle admission decals at state parks and forests and will be displayed on more than 500,000 vehicles.
Her work was the result of an assignment in Drawing and Painting II, a class led by Slinger art teacher Chris Graziano.
The work had a clear goal: to follow state poster contest rules and design a share-worthy poster. After drawing the drawings by hand, the students transferred the images into a computer program called Adobe Illustrator.
Williams said she started with several designs, including deer, dogs, and submarines.
In line with the rules, only four colors were allowed.
After several drafts of the sketches, the theme of color came to the fore.
“My family had a cabin on Lake Lilly near Spooner and there were submarines there,” said 16-year-old Williams. “I love submarines and made it a unique design.”
Williams said she spent about 6 days of class time working on the stamp design and turned in the assignment “right on deadline.”
I learned in early July that she had won.
“I thought they were teasing me,” Williams said. “Only when I (DNR) called did I think I had won.”
Graziano, a Slinger art teacher of 38 years, made three students win a design competition.
Now in its 33rd year, the annual DNR-sponsored design competition is open to submissions of artwork from high school-age students attending public, private, parochial, or home schools in Wisconsin.
Aspen Wolter of Jefferson High School took second place in this year’s competition, and Chase Robert Reyer of Oshkosh North High School took third place.
Two of Williams’ classmates at Slinger High, Raina Crowley and Kaia Miller, earn honorable mentions in the competition.
Other honorable mentions include: Brian Fortney, Ashwabenon High School; Carly Goodlund, McFarland High School; Sean Allen, Keele High School; Isabel Lehner, DC Everest Idea Charter School; and Emily Grubb, Beaver High School.
Vehicle access stickers are required on all motorized vehicles entering Wisconsin parks and recreation areas. Some parking areas on state trails and forests also require a sticker.
Annual admission stickers cost $28 for Wisconsin residents or $38 for non-residents.
A family with more than one vehicle registered to the same household may purchase additional State Park decals for $15.50 for residents and $20.50 for non-residents. A $13 annual seniors poster is available to Wisconsin residents 65 or older.
Proceeds from the state vehicle admission stickers operationally fund the Wisconsin State Park System. The 2024 posters will go on sale November 24. Posters are available for purchase online, at State Park System properties, and at DNR Service Centers.