Shoreham-Wading River School District

Shoreham-Wading River High School student’s artwork featured in Teen Ink

Kristen Tortora, a junior at Shoreham-Wading River High School, hadn’t heard of Teen Ink magazine before joining its “mystical creatures” contest.

Her painting of a dragon using acrylic inks won her the first-place prize in the magazine’s art contest.

“I really like drawing dragons and things like that,” Kristen said. “I liked to draw dragons in middle school, I felt like it was a good opportunity to try out inks.”

Her artwork was featured in Teen Ink’s December 2021 issue.

The December 2021 cover of Teen Ink. (Credit: Courtesy Photo)

Teen Ink magazine is devoted entirely to teenage writing, art, photos and forums, according to their website. Besides its large nationwide audience of over 460,000 users, according to their website, the digital magazine also has an international audience, according to managing editor Noelle Campbell.“We have a lot of students who are from other countries who also are avid writers, and submitters,” she said.

Kristen’s artwork was chosen from about 30 entrants, according to Ms. Campbell. It was her use of colors that made her stand out from the crowd, she said.

“She had an amazing use of color,” Ms. Campbell said. “There’s only a few colors on there but, instantly, the red and the gold kind of pop out … she has good flow, good movement within the picture. Whenever I look at it, I kind of get an emotional response, which is always great with artwork.”

Kristen is a member of Shoreham-Wading River High School’s art and literary magazine, Cymbals. There are around 25 members, and the club meets once a week after school. She is the first member to win a contest like this, according to club advisor and creative writing teacher Jennifer Nazer.

Ms. Nazer said Kristen’s talent has always shone through and she’s happy that it’s being recognized.

“We always knew she was amazingly talented,” Ms. Nazer said. “And I’m really, really excited that the rest of the world and community and everybody gets to see how great of an artist she is.” 

The contest was found online by Ms. Nazer and her colleague, Sara Trenn, who runs the school magazine and club with her. They brought Teen Ink’s contest to members of Cymbals as an opportunity for club members to bring more visibility to their talent.

“We know the talent of our kids and we want them to have a bigger audience,” Ms. Nazer said. “That’s really what motivated us to put on these contests,” she said.

This experience has energized Ms. Nazer and Ms. Trenn to continue motivate their students to showcase their talent and participate in more of these contests.

“It’s really inspired us to encourage our artists, both writers and artists, to share their talent and have confidence in their ability.” Ms. Nazer said. “That yes, you can win these things and yes, you are that talented,” she said.

Kristen hopes to pursue art professionally after graduating from Shoreham-Wading River High School.

“I want to eventually do art professionally and really just whatever it takes to get there,” she said.