WELLS -- Right around the time David Haugland's art took a turn for the triumphant, his heart took a turn for the worse.
The Wells native and hobby artist was notified late in 2012 that his submission for BIC Lighter's "Best of You" lighter design contest -- which was held to celebrate the company's 40th anniversary this year -- had been accepted as a winner. Within weeks, however, he was making the first of two hospital stays to be treated for massive heart failure.
"I had a nasty end of the year," Haugland said of the month between Dec. 10 and New Year's Day. "As soon as I got out (of the hospital after the first attack), I went right back in."
But that didn't stop him from enjoying the spoils of his victory.
After learning of the contest in 2012, Haugland created a design that he said is in keeping with his general artistic aesthetic of surrealism and fantasy. In the past, he's designed art for bands and previously won $500 in a contest to design a tin for Camel's line of snus products.
His BIC design employs a trio of elements symbolic of omniscience -- a diagram of a brain, an umbrella and an all-seeing eye. Arranged around the text "Knowledge: It's all in your mind" and formed against an ominous, storm-gathering sky, Haugland's design is both atmospheric and disquieting.
It's also one of 11 entries selected from more than a thousand submissions to be printed on special edition BIC lighters this year.
Though he was only a few weeks removed from the hospital, Haugland had recovered enough by March to join the 10 other contest winners for a weekend getaway to New York City and a tour of BIC's facility in Milford, Conn. Winners enjoyed a catered dinner, awards presentation and meet-and-greets with city dignitaries In addition to an award and a box of various BIC products (the company also makes pens, razors and stationery), Haugland received a version of his lighter accented with 14-karat gold.
"We won't be using that one," Haugland said, adding that his experience with BIC was nothing but positive: "BIC was great. They took good care of me."
As for his recent artistic success, Haugland said he's happy for the recognition but it won't propel him to change his relationship with his art. He plans to continue dabbling from his home computer, picking and choosing projects that catch his interest.
"When something pops up, I'll go for it," he said.