The deadline for applying for the 2017 Cupcake Award is coming up on July 31! Please visit our Cupcake Award page to apply.

We spoke to last year’s winner, Kelly Fernandez, about her experience:

What was the process of applying for the Cupcake award like?

The hardest part of applying for the Cupcake award was thinking of a story to submit. I spent days racking my brain trying to come up with a compelling fiction story, but I always felt like nothing was good enough. Then I thought: “Why don’t I just tell my story?” I was nervous because I had never made an autobiographical comic, but I decided to just do it!

What did you learn when creating your comic?

I learned that making comics involves taking care of yourself, too. While working on my final art, I barely ate, slept, or spoke to anyone. It wasn’t healthy. Deadlines, taking feedback, and working with others is a vital part of working in comics, so learning how to handle the pressure of these things was important for me. You need to take breaks to destress, exercise, and recharge.

How did you like working with this year’s guest judge/mentor, Caitlin McGurk?

Caitlin was great; she was so supportive and friendly. She was always there to help me not only with my project for the Cupcake award, but also to give me advice about school and my career. I’m very grateful to have had her as my mentor, and I hope we stay friends for a long time.

Do you have any other thoughts about CAKE or the Cupcake award, or any words of encouragement for people who apply?

CAKE and winning the Cupcake award was an incredible experience, and I strongly encourage people to apply! I learned so much and met so many great people, and I would do it again if I could.

About the Cupcake Award

The Cupcake Award is a juried prize that supports the publication of a new minicomic by an emerging artist whose work is primarily self-published. The winner of the award receives $250 to print a new minicomic, a free half table at the next year’s CAKE (where their minicomic will debut), and the mentor support of a special guest judge.

About CAKE

The Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE) is a weekend-long celebration of independent comics, inspired by Chicago’s rich legacy as home to many of underground and alternative comics’ most talented artists–past, present, and future. Featuring comics for sale, workshops, exhibitions, panel discussions, and more, CAKE is dedicated to fostering community and dialogue among independent artists, small presses, publishers, and readers. For any questions about CAKE, please email cake@cakechicago.com.

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