First Place American Art Awards Winner Daniel Um

First Place American Art Awards Winner Daniel Um

Two years ago, Daniel Um (‘19) would have never imagined that he would one day win against artists from 59 different countries for the 2018 American Art Awards first place prize in the Art Brut category. Um has won several different awards for his paintings, collages, and media art.

Winning Piece: “This Was Not My Dream”

A senior at Tenafly High School, Um struggles with juggling both school and his art career. He was born in Korea, then moved to China for five years before he moved to California for 11 years. Um first started art as a hobby, but began to take it seriously after moving to Tenafly around two years ago. Living in these culturally diverse places around the world has influenced Um’s work. “I get my inspiration from everyday life, people I talk to, and things I see,” said Um. He shares his talents through the animations, digital art, collages, paintings, and music videos he creates.

View this post on Instagram

@dprlive @christianyu_ JASMINE 애니메이션

A post shared by 니엘 (@artjunkyar) on



Um is constantly thinking of new designs and ideas, but being a full-time student has taken a toll on his capacity to put these ideas into action. “The hardest part is not getting enough sleep. I don’t really run out of ideas; it’s just finding the time to create my ideas,” he said. While most students have just the job of getting good grades in school, student artists like Um have to manage to keep up with their schoolwork and create new pieces simultaneously.

In addition to the Art Brut American Art Awards first place prize, Um has won in three other American Art Awards categories: Best Political Art, Best Humor Art, and Best Self-Portraits. He has received seven Scholastic Art awards, including one National Gold Medal, one Gold Key, three Silver Keys, and two Honorable Mentions. He is a Celebrating Art Awards 2018 top ten finalist, and has had his work featured in the Average Art Magazine twice. On VSCOcam, he has had one Honorable Mention and one “VSCO selects with honor.” In only two years of working as an artist, Um has received these prestigious awards and several more, and he hopes to earn more as he continues on his journey as an artist. His goal for the future is to become an artist who inspires others and to leave an impact on the world by giving hope and courage. Um believes that art is a way to express yourself freely, without any borders. His expression can be seen in the unique art pieces he creates.

“Only In My Dreams”

With his portfolio now finished, Um is currently making album covers for artists and working on skateboard designs for his friends. In ten years, he would like to see himself in a studio working on album covers, music videos, and commercials for media. Um aspires to major in illustration and expand that field into motion design and to continue art as a career.

For Um, art is not just a hobby, but something that has shaped him into the person he is today. “Art helped me really find myself as a person. Whenever I was lost, I would turn to art, and it’s so cliché, but I found myself through it,” he said.


VSCO: @ddanielum

Instagram: @artjunkyar @danielumi