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Art Student’s Feline Design Wins $10,000 Skechers Scholarship

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Seven birthday cake candles flickered in Teeny Nadeau’s face. Nestled in her lap, Firefly, an orange rescue feline purred softly. 

Last fall, her childhood pet was diagnosed with cancer.

Nadeau, a Cal State Fullerton art major, transformed her pain into creativity. 

In a computer-aided illustration class with Jesse Pak, lecturer in art, Nadeau learned about the Skechers Paws for a Cause Design Scholarship. 

Scholarship recipients are awarded $10,000 for tuition, receive mentorship from a Skechers industry professional and get to see their own animal print design on a Bobs shoe for a limited edition collection that will be released in June 2024.

Jesse Pak, lecturer in art, guides Teeny Nadeau through her Skechers illustration.

With Pak’s guidance, Nadeau entered the Skechers scholarship in hopes of paying off her tuition. For every Bobs shoe that Skechers sells, they donate to animal welfare organizations. Nadeau’s artwork is helping other rescue animals like Firefly. 

Once intimidated by the Adobe Illustrator design software, Nadeau overcame the uneasiness and began doodling goofy cats dressed in regal attire. She drew different versions of the design, played around with color templates and settled on a black-and-white sketch.

“Pak gave me great constructive criticism on my design, sharpened my illustration skills and boosted my confidence in my design’s development,” said Nadeau. 

Out of 20 schools nationwide, Bobs from Skechers selected Nadeau’s cat mosaic shoe design in honor of Firefly. Her Skechers design personnel mentorship will begin in May.

“Firefly sadly passed on Dec. 3, 2023. She was my best friend, my rock and my emotional support animal,” said Nadeau. “I feel so incredibly grateful that I have a physical representation of her legacy that I get to share with the world.”

Leveling Up in Animation and Illustration

A transfer student from Saddleback Community College, Nadeau applied to both the entertainment art/animation and illustration concentrations at Cal State Fullerton. She was accepted into both.

“I chose CSUF because it had a great reputation for animation majors and is much more affordable than art school,” said Nadeau. “I am so glad I made the decision to be a student here.”

Both concentration’s portfolio reviews come with unique challenges that Nadeau has had fun navigating.

Teeny Nadeau's Cat Illustration
CSUF student Teeny Nadeau’s design of goofy cats dressed in regal attire won her a $10,000 Skechers scholarship.

“I have learned so much throughout my time at CSUF,” said Nadeau. “I’ve improved my anatomy skills, learned Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, and taken multiple 3D design classes. Most importantly, I’ve learned how to collaborate with others in a creative space.”

She serves as social media specialist for CSUF’s Women in Animation club, which seeks to see equitable representation in the animation industry by 2025. Founded in 1995, the organization is dedicated to advancing women in the creation, production and rewards of animation. 

Nadeau also serves as the director of public relations for the Arts Inter-Club Council, a liaison for all arts organizations designed to increase communication within the College of the Arts and promote the growth of an artistic community.

In the future, she envisions herself as an animator for Sony Pictures Animation, making history with the creators of her favorite film, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” or video game publisher, Rockstar Games. 

“In my current journey, I am less concerned with choosing a single career path, but driven in honing my artistic skills and leaving a lasting impact in my craft,” said Nadeau.

Written by: Vanessa Siguenza