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Carolina STYLE Magazine

Carolina STYLE Magazine

The 5th Annual RAWards Semi-Finals


The 5th Annual RAWards Semi-Finals

RAW:natural born artists is an independent organization “for artists, by artists.” The organization offers opportunities for artists all around the world to showcase their talent, gain exposure, network, and grow their brand. No genre of art is left out; RAW welcomes everyone from visual artists to makeup artists. The annual awards ceremony, cleverly dubbed the RAWards, are held at the end of each year to declare the local crème de la crème in each category.  Each city’s winners then goes on to compete for the coveted National “Artist of the Year” title.

_MG_0821 copyThe Raleigh RAWards were held December 5th at the iconic Lincoln Theatre. The Raleigh art community in attendance burst at the seams with talent, and everyone unanimously agreed that it was wonderful to have this unique opportunity to showcase local creativity in an eclectic forum. Aravind Ragupathi, cinematographer for Rob Underhill, said that it was exciting to showcase with peers and network for new opportunities to collaborate with one another.

Tara Mattia, a jewelry designer and nominee, commented on how she used to be afraid of being judged, but RAW offered a friendly and “amazing platform for exposure.”

[Left: RAW Raleigh, Hairstylist of the Year, Andrayah Ponce’s runway show]


This year, the venue brimmed with such an impressive and eclectic mix of inspiring art, that I seriously wondered how the judges would choose winners. Rob Kastelic, a judge and local media and publishing titan, said he judged based on how it affected him and his emotions since “art is a passion.”

_MG_0326 copy“Passion” was truly the word of the night. After speaking with artists in different categories, it was apparent that they all oozed passion for their medium of choice. Laurie Linney, RAW Makeup Artist of the Year, discussed how she was a hairstylist by day, but makeup was her true love. Linney said she was “excited to showcase a range of [her abilities]” and drew inspiration from her personal makeup idol, Alex Box, for her sparkly, holiday themed show.  Andrayah Ponce, RAW Hairstylist of the Year, said she was thrilled to “bring [her] thoughts and ideas to life, and to have total creative freedom” with her larger-than-life “hair sculptures.”

[Right: RAW Raleigh, Musicians of the Year, Brandon Wise & The Scorchin’ Sons.]


Arguably the most heartwarming aspect of the RAWards was the evident camaraderie, support, and collaborative efforts amongst the local community. In addition to the friends and family that came out to see their favorite artists (or even model their work), other local artists assisted behind the scenes to help their friend’s work come to life. For instance, Joanne Maye, a local makeup artist and model, did the makeup for Andrayah Ponce’s awe-inspiring hair show. Maye said that she was “excited to help a fellow artist pursue her dream” because “as artists, we are nothing without each other.”

The official winners of 2013 are as follows:

RAW Accessories Designer of the Year: Jaime Andrews

RAW Fashion Designer of the Year: Casey Crespo

RAW Film Producer of the Year: Rob Underhill

RAW Hairstylist of the Year: Andrayah Ponce

RAW Makeup Artist of the Year: Laurie Linney

RAW Musicians of the Year: Brandon Wise & The Scorchin’ Sons

RAW Photographer of the Year: Jose Chavira

RAW Visual Artist of the Year: Johanna Gibson

Jaime Andrews, Accessories Designer of the Year, best summed up the overall RAW sentiment in her acceptance speech when she said, “customers keep me going… people share their lives with me.”

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[Above: RAW Raleigh, Photographer of the Year, Jose Chavira’s display.]

From here, the artists have a chance to compete for the finals held in Los Angeles on January 19th. Winners will be announced later today (Monday, December 16th). Locally, RAW Raleigh is gearing up for the 2014 season, so be on the lookout for the next event, February 6th 2014. Are you an artist and interested in flexing your chops for the local community to see? Don’t be shy! Get in touch with the City Director, Tomris McDaniel, for more details: or set up a free profile at

Photography by Jason Rizzo, RaleighStatic.

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