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Wichita Artist Jay Walter Creates Winning Riverfest Art

Wichita Festivals has unveiled the official artwork for Riverfest 2019, sponsored by Emprise Bank.

This post originally appeared on Wichita Riverfest.

Wichita Festivals, Inc. unveiled the official artwork and announced new events and changes for Riverfest 2019 at a media event today at Emprise Bank, sponsor of the artwork contest.

“Having the community gather in our building each January to see the new Riverfest poster and meet the winning artist is really exciting for us,” said Emprise Bank Chairman and CEO Matt Michaelis. “We’re honored to support the poster artwork contest and host the reveal. Wichita Festivals always brings energy and creativity to the unveiling.”

Wichita-based artist Jay Walter collected a check for $4,000 for his design, which depicts iconic downtown buildings and features a break-dancer as the centerpiece for key Riverfest activities. Having wanted to enter the Riverfest Poster & Button Artwork Contest for years, this was the first year Walter pulled the trigger. He sketched a handful of compositions before honing in on the “Downtown Get Down” theme.

“I’m so excited to have this opportunity as an artist and a citizen,” Walter said. “What a perfect-for-me way to support the Wichita community and contribute to Riverfest. And it was a great contest experience, thanks to the team at Wichita Festivals and Emprise Bank.” The button designs capture elements of the winning poster, and the art will be featured in promotional materials and on merchandise.

The poster, sponsored by Docuplex, serves as an invitation to the largest community celebration in Kansas: Riverfest, set for May 31-June 8.

“Jay’s design has a lively party feel, capturing how Riverfest infuses our downtown with fun and celebration,” said Mary Beth Jarvis, Wichita Festivals’ president and CEO. “What a perfect theme for this festival, which will be packed with honored traditions, new events and diverse performances everyone can enjoy. Riverfest, our region’s signature event for 47 years, is shaping up to have a great 2019.”

Walter, a 26-year-old designer, coder, husband and dad, lives in Wichita. He grew up in Manhattan, Kan., sixth in a line of eleven children. The artist’s parents and siblings are each creative geniuses in their own right. “I remember spur-of-the-moment ‘drawing contests’ breaking out at our kitchen table. We’d pick what to draw, and then each do our take and compare to judge whose was the best.”

As a kid, Walter had a fascination with computers, which claimed a fair amount of his time. Sure, there were games to be played, but also new ways to be creative, often with Microsoft Paint. At twelve, he unboxed his first Wacom tablet, which launched him down the path to graphic art and design. In high school, the artist was introduced to coding for websites, and success at his first job influenced his decision to forgo college for full-time web work. Website design, according to the artist, is the perfect match between an interest in technology and an artistic eye.

Walter designs and builds websites for Gardner Design, where he has been involved in such projects as the Sedgwick County Zoo’s new website and Heartlandia stickers. Other recent personal projects include art for his home, posters, and a forthcoming children’s book.

A team of design professionals met on Dec. 17 and selected the winning design from thirty-six submissions. Representatives from Emprise Bank and Wichita Festivals presented Walter with the $4,000 award for his design.

Read the full press release at

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