Festival of Whales Logo History

FOW2020 – Mika Denny

Mika Denny’s roots take her back to the Orange County coastline. With childhood visits to the Ocean Institute and residing in Dana Point during her art school days, it’s only fitting that the experiences that shaped her artistry have led her logo design to be selected for the 49th annual Festival of Whales in 2020.

Denny, who currently resides in Santa Ana, submitted an entry in a previous year’s design contest for the festival. The Festival of Whales Foundation Board was very impressed with the submission, says festival coordinator Andrea Swayne.

“This design really stuck out to the board,” Swayne said. “Mika’s artwork is the perfect celebratory feel to represent all the fun new additions we have planned for the Festival of Whales in 2020.”

Denny solely used Adobe Illustrator to create her design. She says it all came down to color and shape. “I picked out the complementary colors that I know would make the eye happy,” Denny said. “I love playing around with interesting shapes. I love distinguishing shapes within other shapes. And I think that’s pretty evident in this design.”

Read the full story here: The Shape of Things to Come
By Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times

FOW2019 – Robyn Rogers

Robyn Rogers’ fascination with whales began when she was about five years old. Her older brother had been preparing for a school project on whales when he had Rogers hold one end of string as he unraveled it about 100 feet – roughly the size of a blue whale. Now at 27 years old, Rogers has been announced as the artist chosen to create the official logo for next year’s Festival of Whales.

“The Festival of Whales Foundation Board became fans of her work when she entered a past year’s logo design contest,” said Festival coordinator Andrea Swayne. “Her gorgeous portrayal of a whale in motion is a beautiful addition to the Festival’s tradition of highlighting an original work of art as its logo each year.”

The Festival of Whales, a yearly event Dana Point, is a celebration of the annual migration of the California Gray Whale. In past years when the logo was chosen via an art contest, dozens of artists submitted entries for the chance to have their design featured throughout the Festival, including event merchandise. Rogers’ entry in a past contest is what caught the eyes of the Festival of Whales Foundation Board, leading to her becoming the artist of choice for the 48th annual event.

Read the full story here: Logo for Next Year’s Festival of Whales Announced
By Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times

FOW_frankie_michinock_FINAL-10002018 – Frankie Michinock

1st place winner in the Festival of Whales logo design contest

It shouldn’t have been a surprise when Frankie Michinock, 23, of Laguna Niguel, admitted that she didn’t have a printed copy of her award-winning 2018 Festival of Whales graphic.

After being identified as one of the top five logos by the Festival of Whales Board of Directors from over 70 entries, Michinock—who is rather humble—was blown away after being named a finalist, and later received just under one thousand votes in the public voting section hosted on social media. Not long after the polls closed on social media she was crowned, leaving little time to absorb the news in full.

“I still can’t believe this. I’m in shock,” Michinock exclaimed while looking overwhelmed with the attention. “It’s unbelievable. I can’t thank my friends, family and everyone who voted enough.”

This was Michinock’s third time entering the Festival of Whales logo design contest. The Laguna Niguel resident and Dana Hills High School graduate placed fourth her sophomore year of high school in 2010 and second in 2012, but said she has always identified with Dana Point as home and definitely felt motivated—and a bit of pressure—from her hometown pride while designing this year’s award-winning graphic.

Read the full story here: Third Time’s the Charm: Former Dana Hills High graduate wins Festival of Whales logo design contest
By Daniel Ritz, Dana Point Times

Seventy talented artists submitted their creations, and these were our finalists.

And the winner is …

Congratulations to our 2018 logo contest winner Frankie Michinock.

Thanks to all who entered and to everyone who voted for the winner from among the top five finalists.

Logo Contest 2018_FINAL RESULT_no vote count

Festival of Whales 2017

2017 – Alex Van Brasch

1st place winner in the Festival of Whales logo design contest

Using his love of whales as inspiration for a design, Alex Van Brasch, a Simi Valley native, who recently relocated to Portland, Oregon, took home the top prize in the 2017 Festival of Whales logo design contest.
For Van Brasch’s logo, he said he used colored pencils and pen, and then the computer to add the text and align everything.

When the logo contest was announced, he said he didn’t know if he was going to submit anything.
“Someone had forwarded it to me in a message; I thought about it for a second and didn’t know if I was going to commit,” Van Brasch said. “One night I just started drawing this whale in colored pencil, there was no clear layout for the rest of the design.”

He said he drew the whale bursting out of the water “almost out of desperation.”
“It was also a celebration in a way,” Van Brasch said. “I wanted to bring some positivity to the table. It’s fun, it’s kind of classic but modern.”

Read more: Festival of Whales Logo Contest Winner Uses Passion for Whales as Inspiration
By Kristina Pritchett, Dana Point Times

Many talented artists submitted their creations, and these were our finalists.

And the winner is …

Congratulations to our 2017 logo contest winner Alex Van Brasch!

Thanks to all the artists who entered and to everyone who voted for the winner from among the top five finalists.

Logo Contest 2017_FINAL RESULT_no vote count

Festival of Whales 2016

2016 – Camden Butterworth

1st place winner in Dana Hills High School logo design competition

This year’s winner is sophomore Camden Butterworth from Dana Hills High School, whose logo design will become the official brand of the event, emblazoned on everything from printed advertising, event programs and online media to souvenir logo wear in the form of sweatshirts and T-shirts.

Butterworth, who created the logo in Krista Snow’s multi-media and design class and intends to continue studying photography after graduation, said she wanted to take her entry in a totally different direction than the last few year’s designs.

“I wanted to go for a cartoonish look with smooth lines and lettering—a simple design that would be fun and different to look at,” Butterworth said. “I’ve gone to the festival with my family growing up and last year some of my art was on display, but to be this year’s logo designer is a huge honor. To have my logo be among all the famous artists who have done it in the past, as well as the student designs, is amazing.”

Snow was also excited to have one of her students chosen as this year’s winner.

“I remember Camden working on it last year and I was very impressed,” Snow said. “It was very creative and she was thinking outside the box by incorporating text. She worked very hard on it and I’m thrilled for her.”

The other four finalists are: in second place Anthony Aguilar, a 2015 grad now attending college in San Francisco as an art major, sophomore Agustina Cruz in third place, junior Chloe Gaynor in fourth and, in fifth place, junior Fatemah Khanmohammadi.

“The idea that this community cares enough to provide a program especially for teens to highlight their talents, shows we think their interests and talents are valued and important,” she said. “What’s really exciting about this year’s expansion is that we’ve created this really well-rounded program that reaches all kinds of kids, with varied interests, and gives them new opportunities to interact with each other and the community in a very meaningful way.”

Read more: Full STEAM Ahead for Festival of Whales
Andrea Swayne, Editor, Dana Point Times

Festival of Whales Logo

2015 – Alec Brady

1st place winner in Dana Hills High School logo design competition

The Dana Point Festival of Whales committee has chosen Dana Hills High School student Alec Brady as this year’s logo design winner from entries received via an annual program charging the art departments at the school with a student art contest.

The runners-up, from second to fifth place are: Stephanie Kuehle, Kate Summer, Joey Benrubi and Kai Fowler.

Penny Elia, the festival’s executive director, first reached out to the high school in 2011 with the idea of creating a contest in which students could compete to create the official logo for the 2012 event.

Each year since, one winner and four runners-up have been chosen from among the participating classes at Dana Hills.

Students also participate in a Dana Wharf Whale Watching and Ocean Institute field trip for inspiration in creating other art to display at the festival’s Art in the Park show each year.

“This year, the Dana Point Fine Arts Association provided the Festival of Whales Foundation with a generous contribution to assist with DHHS participation in Art in the Park,” Elia said. “That was a huge help and allowed us to award the prize money prior to the school year starting, for the first time ever.”

Read more: Festival of Whales Logo Design Winner Named
Andrea Swayne, Editor, Dana Point Times

2014 – Sarah Holen

1st place winner in Dana Hills High School logo design competition

“I was ecstatic to find out that once again Dana Hill’s art department would be participating in the contest for the Festival of the Whales logo. My love for design and competition was really set free in this project. When shown the years previous logos I came to notice that the most recent ones were all developed digitally. Knowing of the extreme digital age we are in today I decided to take a different approach by creating my design by hand. I came up with a general idea and presented it to my eldest sister Jenny Holen, who is Biology teacher of seven years at Tesoro High school. She helped me decipher the right kind of whale that would visit Dana Point at this time of the year. So not only did I want to get the right type of whale, I wanted it to look somewhat similar to the real thing. Another aspect of my design that I think is really unique is the use of sea kelp as the sun. In my drawing I placed the kelp where normally our sea kelp forest would be right off our famous Headlands. I really wanted to keep the design simple but with an artistic flare. I wanted to portray a simple design that was unique, just like Dana Point. Bringing it back to basic drawing, where design first originated – with a pencil and a piece of paper.” – Sarah Holen

Read more about Sarah: Dana Point Times – Students Create Art with a Festival Focus (page 4)

Dana Point Festival of Whales Logo

2013 – Steven Kazarian

1st place winner in Dana Hills High School logo design competition

Dana Hills class of 2012 alum Steven Kazarian was chosen as this year’s winner. His artwork will become the official logo of the Dana Point Festival of Whales and be featured on all event advertising—including OCTA bus wraps, festival website, signage and logo apparel.

We caught up with Steven at the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo, Calif., where he is a freshman, to let him know his artwork had been chosen.

“For my design to stand among professional artists like John Van Hamersveld and Wyland who have created logos in the past is an absolute honor,” Kazarian said. “I remember having a great time at the festival as a kid. It definitely made an impression on me. Even back then I felt pride in being a part of Dana Point and seeing the whole town come out to celebrate the whales.

Kazarian said he would like to thank his teachers for being helpful and encouraging him to enter the contest, especially since graphic design is just a hobby as his main artistic interest is in digital photography.

“I really got into art in my junior and senior years and was shocked at how much it helped open my eyes to the possibilities of digital photography,” Kazarian said. “Although I’m hoping for a career traveling the world as the head engineer on a ship, art and photography will always be a way for me to express myself and share my point of view.”

When asked about what he drew inspiration from when creating his winning entry, Kazarian pointed out that he wanted to include some of the best things about Dana Point in his design.

“I love Dana Point and thought it would be a great way to show some of the best parts of it—everything that makes the city great,” he said. “Also, last year’s contest inspired me to try. I am ecstatic, absolutely psyched at being chosen.”

Read more: Dana Point Times – Artistic Festival of Whales Tradition Continues
Andrea Swayne, Editor, Dana Point Times

Dana Point Festival of Whales Logo 2012

2012 – Carver Moore

1st place winner in Dana Hills High School logo design competition

Read more: Dana Point Times
OC Register

Background on Dana Hills High School Educator and Festival of Whales Logo Champion

Dana Hills High School Digital Photography teacher, Natalie Hribar-Kelly, grew up in San Juan Capistrano where she lives with her husband and two young daughters. Following earning her undergraduate degree in fine art from UCLA and her Master’s Degree in Education from UCSB, Hribar-Kelly interviewed at her alma mater, Dana Hills High School where she was hired to teach art. In her first year, she designed the Digital Photography program which quickly grew from one to five sections. Hribar-Kelly is currently in her final semester at CSULB earning her Master Degree in Fine Art. She says that her advanced art degree has offered her students a more diverse curriculum and a teacher that has a better understanding of the current art trends and culture.

In the spring of 2011 Hribar-Kelly received an e-mail from the Dana Point Festival of Whales executive director requesting a collaboration with the DHHS art classes to create a poster for the 2012 festival. Hribar-Kelly thought it was a perfect opportunity for her students to engage with the community, get work published and learn how to create a poster for an event. She quickly designed a lesson for her students and began teaching them the techniques needed to create an event poster. She is thrilled with the success of the project, and the opportunity to get her students involved with this event. Based on the overwhelming success of the collaboration, Hribar-Kelly and the festival’s executive director worked on the 2013 logo as well. For 2014, Hribar-Kelly will lead the curriculum for logo development and include the advanced Illustrator class. More good things are on the horizon for the 2014 Festival of Whales – stay tuned!

Dana Point Festival of Whales Logo 2011

2011 – 40th Anniversary

The original version of this logo was designed in 1992 by Nestor/Johnson Design, San Juan Capistrano.  This retro version of the logo ignited many a trip down memory lane for visitors that have been collecting Festival logos over the past few decades.

Dana Point Festival of Whales Logo 2010

2010 – John VanHamersveld

American graphic artist and illustrator who designed record jackets for pop and psychedelic bands, since the 1960s.  Albums include Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles, Crown of Creation by Jefferson Airplane and Exile on Main Street by The Rolling Stones.  Many know VanHamersveld best for his famous “Endless Summer” illustration.


Dana Point Festival of Whales Logo 2009

2009 – Rick Erkeneff

Rick Erkeneff is a multi-talented artist, active surfer, skateboarder, and snowboarder. He and his partner Denise operate R&D Design in Dana Point, CA and have two active daughters who are in following their father’s artistic and sports enthusiast path.

Dana Point Festival of Whales Logo 2008

2008 – Bill Atkins

Laguna Beach artist specializing in poster design, illustration, and most recently one of two designers that created the California Coastal Commission’s new “Whale Tail” license plate.


Dana Point Festival of Whales Logo 2007

2007 Howard O’Donnell – Mother Gray Whale and Her Baby

“While planning this watercolor scene of a mother gray whale with her baby in tow, I was inspired, by both personal sightings and videos observed of the great whale migration, to paint the giant mammals as they make their journey up and down the coast of the western seaboard.

I tried to capture the elegant graceful movements of a 50-ton mother gray whale and her baby as they glide effortlessly through the warm and shadowy depths of the ocean.”

Dana Point Festival of Whales Logo Design 2006

2006 – Phil Roberts

Artist, Architect, Master Painter, Surf Artist, Movie Poster Illustrator


Dana Point Festival of Whales Logo Design 2005

2005 George McGhee – Dana Point Rendezvous

“The Dana Point Rendezvous painting was inspired by several factors that involve the annual migration of the Gray Whales along the pacific shelf near the coastline of southern California.

After reading about the history of Dana Point and the seaman/author Richard Henry Dana after which this beautiful city was named, I set out on a venture to find out what exactly inspired Richard Henry Dana to call these 200 foot cliffed coves known as the  Headlands, “the only romantic spot in California.”

So I went out one morning for a cruise just before sun rise just to see for myself what all the excitement was about, and what an eye opening revelation.

The sunrise was spectacular with the sky’s many shades of blues and lavender, with hues of orange, red and gold dusting the clouds and ocean.

At that point it was clear to me that the Dana Headlands will be a great source of inspiration. (Especially after also spotting a pair of whales on that trip).

I’m positive that Seaman Dana encountered various forms of wildlife during his travels along the California coastlands some of which must have been the majestic Gray Whales as he approached the headlands, therefore making his voyage complete with a rendezvous with the whales and his beloved coastland.

The painting “Dana Point Rendezvous” is about what I envision, and imagine that Seaman Dana experienced during his many trips to this enchanted coastal area now called Dana Point.”

Both George McGhee and Howard O’Donnell are members of the Dana Point Fine Arts Association (DPFAA) which began as the Niguel Art Association and had its roots in a group formed by six area artists in 1968. These local artists were interested in offering South County residents greater exposure to the fine arts, and to create a venue promoting the many talented artists within the community. In May 1989, the Niguel Art Association became an official non-profit 501(3)(c) corporation. The association was renamed in February 2007 to Dana Point Fine Arts Association. The current priorities of the DPFAA remains in line with the goals of the founding artists, most significantly of which is the most active show schedule of any art association in Southern California; promoting the marketing knowledge and capabilities of our member artists; and support of the development of the local high school art program.

Dana Point Festival of Whales Logo Design 2004

2004 George Sumner – For the Love of Whales


As a pioneer in the “save the whales” movement in the late 60s, George Sumner has influenced an entire generation of marine artists.  This environmental impressionist painter chose the theme of the incredible bonding between mother and calf immediately after birth.  For the first two years after birth, mother and baby are inseparable, constantly touching and nurturing each other.

“For the Love of Whales”, a 4′ x 5′ original oil painting seeks to share a touching moment of a young gray whale calf snuggling lovingly against her mother’s warm embrace.  The abundant giant kelp beds that help conceal the baby from predators symbolically form a heart shape to reflect the logo’s theme.

Dana Point Festival of Whales Logo Design 1993

1993 – Wyland


Dana Point Festival of Whales Logo Design 1992

1992 – Nestor/Johnson Design, San Juan Capistrano.