homepage logo

Student’s art work to be featured across U.S.; Cape youth wins Heinz Creativity Award

By Staff | Apr 7, 2008

Many artists aspire to have their artwork viewed by many. Young local artist Chris LaCoste has more than achieved that dream — his artwork will appear on more than 80 million commercial pieces across the country.

The H.J. Heinz company recently chose LaCoste as the ninth grade 2007-2008 National Heinz Creativity Contest winner and will display his winning work on 80 million single-serve Heinz Ketchup packets, which will be distributed at food service venues across the United States.

“His work was chosen from 15,000 entries,” said proud North Fort Myers High School Principal Kimberly Lunger. “We had an assembly with 150 students who celebrated the recognition of his award and they were genuinely excited one of their classmates won such a distinction and brought such positive attention to their school. What a unique thing this was — national recognition.”

“I’ve always had and liked art classes in school, and always liked to doodle and draw,” said the talented student, a Cape Coral resident. “I plan on being an artist, and would really like to study in New York.”

LaCoste said he is particularly happy about being recognized by such a prestigious well-known company as he plans on being a commercial artist.

“I like the idea that my artwork is on a national product and will be mass produced,” LaCoste said.

“Clearly he is a very creative, artistic and well-rounded student,” said art teacher Tina Miller. “Chris is very interested in art and loves to draw. In particular, he loves very stylized Japanese art.”

“I’m big on both Andy Warhol and Takashi Murakami,” he said of the influences that showed through in his design.

Miller also added that Chris’ work is very expressive.

“That always comes through in his artwork,” Miller said. “And he knows art history, which is unusual at his age.”

For favorite mediums, LaCoste always uses sharpies, ball point pens, crayons and colored pencils.

Besides his teachers at North Fort Myers High, LaCoste said a big influence on him was his former violin teacher, Mitsue Schmidt of North Fort Myers Academy of the Arts.

“She told me to enter all the contests that I could, take every opportunity,” he said. “My dad also told me to keep displaying my artwork everywhere I could.”

That encouragement led him to entering and winning first place last year in Lee County School District’s Pride & Patriotism art contest. He’ll also be part of the May 9 art exhibition at the Sidney and Berne Davis Art Center.

H. J. Heinz Company representatives presented LaCoste and his art teacher Miller a check for $1,500 at the assembly at the High School. LaCoste will receive a $750 scholarship and the school will receive $750 worth of both art supplies and Heinz Ketchup.

After reviewing the more than 15,000 entries, Heinz chose 12 designs from students in grades one through 12 who will each receive a $750 scholarship. Each winning student’s school will also receive $750 worth of both art supplies and Heinz Ketchup. The contest, which is aimed at encouraging students’ creative expression, garnered a variety of artistic designs, including Chris’ theme, which is alive with color, featuring a rainbow leaping out of a ketchup bottle with a backdrop of bright blue sky and a smiling tomato.

Chris’s work was considered one of several remarkably creative submissions, said Heinz officials. The high level of participation caused the panel of judges to have their work cut out for them.

“There were so many extraordinary entries this year from students across the country,” said Rebecca Serafini, senior brand manager for Ketchup and Sauces at Heinz Foodservice. “It was extremely difficult to pick just 12.”

H. J. Heinz Company is one of the world’s leading marketers and producers of convenient foods specializing in ketchup, sauces, meals, snacks and infant nutrition. Heinz is a global family of leading branded products, including Ore-Ida potato products, Weight Watchers Smart Ones frozen entrees, Boston Market meals, T.G.I. Friday’s frozen snacks and Plasmon infant nutrition. Heinz is famous for its iconic brands on five continents, showcased by Heinz Ketchup.

Principal Lunger also added she is particularly pleased with the award to one of her students because it is North Fort Myers High School’s third year of being named a Center for Arts and Media.

“As a new art school, it let’s us know we’re heading in the right direction,” she said.