Moscow High School’s senior class President Ellie Pimentel has always enjoyed making art, but it wasn’t until recently she discovered her interest in and knack for digital art.

As a sophomore, Pimentel took an Extended Learning Internship (or ELI) class from teacher Carly Bean, which allowed her to do an independent project and kick-started her work in design.

“She has lots of interests,” Bean said of Pimentel. “(And) she’s … willing to put in the time to become good at those things.”

Pimentel’s first semester in Bean’s class was spent focusing on digital art, and while the class requirement is 90 hours, Pimentel put in about 250. Bean said it has been great to see Pimentel’s art skills grow.

The hard work recently paid off, as Pimentel was named a 2022 YoungArts Finalist in Design Arts. She joins 156 artists nationwide to earn finalist recognition, and is the only teen from Idaho to be recognized. She is one of eight in the design arts category.

According to a news release from the organization, YoungArts was established in 1981 by Lin and Ted Arison to identify the most accomplished young artists in visual, literary, and performing arts and provide them with creative and professional development opportunities throughout their careers.

Some of Pimentel’s work relates to her work with PERIOD, a club she is part of at Moscow High School that focuses on helping make feminine hygiene products more accessible and battling period poverty.

Recently, the club donated thousands of tampons and period pads to groups like Alternatives to Violence on the Palouse and Family Promise of the Palouse. She is also known to offer her help to clubs wanting to make posters, Bean said.

Pimentel’s father, David, said Ellie has always been self-directed and good at motivating herself. So when she expressed an interest in digital art, he and his wife purchased her a drawing tablet for Christmas that year.

She outgrew the drawing tablet, moved to an Ipad and now uses the drawing app Procreate to do her work, which she shares on her art-focused Instagram account, “elliesketches.”

Pimentel said she created a piece that illustrated song lyrics from a Paul Simon song. She posted it to Instagram and soon found out Simon had reposted it and liked the art.

Pimentel said she heard of YoungArts a few years ago from a Youtube video of a previous winner promoting the competition, and she decided to apply under the design category. Her first time entering didn’t amount to an award, but it did motivate Pimentel to keep trying.

Bean said that while she didn’t win an award the first time, Pimentel earned enough points to receive feedback and was excited to see what professionals thought of her work.

Pimentel went back to work and spent the next year reworking her portfolio until she was happy with it and sent it off for judging.

David Pimentel said he was worried, as any dad would be, that his daughter would get her hopes too high and end up disappointed. But this time, Pimentel was named a finalist.

“I can use (my art) as a route to think about and address problems in the community or issues that really frustrate me,” Pimentel said. “A lot of my design work has been driven by that,”

Pimentel will present her work at a YoungArts digital showcase on Feb. 2. To learn more about YoungArts and register to see Pimentel present her work at the showcase, visit youngarts.org/national-youngarts-week/.

Kali Nelson can be reached at knelson@dnews.com

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