Mikal Barker Wins Illustration Scholarship Award

Mikal Barker and Barbara Palacious, Photo by Bets Wilson, Nossi Photo Alumnus

When Barbara Palacios and Lluvia Agustin contacted Nossi College of Art and encouraged students and alumni to submit ideas for her upcoming children’s book series, Nossi College had just one response, “Challenge Accepted!”

Lluvia is the founder and owner of The Agustin Agency, a global literary agency connecting authors with audiences around the world.

“I’m a firm believer in supporting young people with these types of programs,” said Lluvia Agustin. “When you win something, big or small it boosts your self-esteem.” Agustin, who spent twenty years in the publishing industry before launching her own agency, said she is passionate about helping young people advance in their field.

“It’s a way of giving back,” she added.

With a $1,000 scholarship award on the line, Nossi College hand-selected seven commercial illustrators based on their previous experiences and portfolio of work. Each illustrator focused on bringing Palacios’ dragonfly characters to life. From pencil sketches to digital concept to inked comps, these illustrators used videos to pitch their ideas and concepts to the Agustin Team in hopes of earning the top prize.

The quality of Barker’s work stood out to Palacios, who said she was drawn to Barker’s use of color and his portrayal of the characters.

“When I saw Mikal Barker’s art, it brought tears to my eyes,” said Palacios. “I thought, ‘Yes, that’s it. They will fit my stories.’”

In addition to the scholarship, Barker’s art will be included in Palacios’ book proposal, providing him a unique opportunity to have his work in front of major publishers.

“This is a great opportunity for our students and recent graduates to work on a project of this size and importance,” said Cyrus Vatandoost, Executive VP of the college. “Through our Nossi All Access Program, we give students a glimpse into real-world timelines and deadlines, so they can compete in the professional world.”


Mikal Barker Wins Illustration scholarship
Left to Right: Libby Funke Luff, Mikal Barker, Barbara Palacios, Kendall Whiteside, Lluvia Agustin; Photo by Bets Wilson

Nossi All Access is an award-winning program from their student activities office. With the goal to connect creative students to entertainment, nonprofit, music, sports, fashion and other creative industries in Nashville before graduation, Nossi gives students a chance to impact their portfolio with real-world work by companies who need creative support.

Agustin hopes to be able to carry out more contests like this, giving young artists a chance to illustrate for books or book proposals.

“More than the scholarship money, simply winning a contest like this can have a huge impact on a young artist,” Agustin said. “The agency and I represent some of the best authors we know, and we are committed to empowering the artists and writers of the future.”

Want to learn a little bit more about Nossi All Access? Please click here.

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Follow Mikal Barker on Instagram to see his amazing work and to stay in the professional loop on LinkedIn. Although the art Mikal created for The Agustin Agency is SUPER SECRET, we did want to share some other character concepts by Mikal, viewable on Instagram!

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