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Las Vegas student beats 110K designers to win global competition

Updated August 7, 2017 - 6:35 pm

Bright reds, oranges and yellows pop from the poster promoting a nonprofit devoted to developing children’s science and math abilities.

Creator Kai Charvet’s use of bold and vivid colors in her design and a clear communication vision helped her beat out more than 110,000 entrants from 67 countries last week in the Adobe Certified Associate World Championship.

“When they announced second place, for a second I thought they weren’t going to call my name,” said Charvet, whose given name is Ana Katarina but who goes by Kai. “But then it happened. And I freaked out. I was super-close to crying.”

Charvet, a recent graduate of the Southwest Career and Technical Academy and an incoming freshman at UNLV, designed a print-ready and digital-format poster for the nonprofit Iridescent as part of the eight-hour design competition, in which she was pitted against 46 other finalists. She is the first American to win the competition, now in its fifth year, which aims to provide young designers with a venue to demonstrate their superior digital communications skills.

Technique and vision rewarded

Competitors were judged on their creative and technical skills and ability to implement the client’s vision and message.

“I congratulate (Kai) and the other finalists for their superior digital design skills, passion and creativity,” Tacy Trowbridge, global education programs lead for Adobe, said in a statement. “We support the ACA World Championship because it recognizes students who are validating their digital design skills with Adobe Certified User certification, an accomplishment we know will help them in their academic and career pursuits.”

Charvet reached the final with a vector portrait of one of her favorite musicians, David Bowie, inspired by his persona Ziggy Stardust.

“I thought it was … expressive of the nature of David Bowie,” she said. “And since he did pass away recently, I thought it was a nice tribute.”

Charvet also had to receive her certification in Adobe Illustrator before enrolling in the competition.

The mentoring she received from her teacher, Debra Tomme at the Southwest Career and Technical Academy, was invaluable, she said.

“She’s taught me almost everything I know,” Charvet said. “Before, I had a very baseline, novice understanding of Illustrator. She elevated that to new heights.”

An inspirational illustrator

She’s also taken a cue from Janet Sung, a Korean-American illustrator based in New York.

“I actually saw her selling art at a convention, and I really fell in love with her style, the way she used colors and the way she made illustration look like something you could find in a magazine,” Charvet said. “I would love to speak to her and learn from her.”

As first-place winner in the worldwide competition, Charvet took home $7,000 in scholarship money, a four-year subscription to Adobe software and a gold medal.

Charvet’s next stop on her career of creating “cool things” is UNLV, where she plans to study graphic design for a year before transferring to Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“I want to study illustration and work that in with design,” she said. “I want to mesh that together because I think that has a lot of potential … and it’s a really cool way to market myself.”

Contact Natalie Bruzda at nbruzda@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3897. Follow @NatalieBruzda on Twitter.

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