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

Teeny Nadeau, art major

Seven birthday cake candles flared across Teeny Nadeau’s face. Firefly, an orange rescue kitten, purred quietly while nestled in her lap.

Last autumn, her childhood pet was diagnosed with cancer.

Nadeau, a Cal State Fullerton art student, channeled her distress into creativity.

Nadeau discovered the Skechers Paws for a Cause Design scholarship while taking a computer-aided illustration class with Jesse Pak, an art educator.

Scholarship candidates receive $10,000 in tuition, guidance from a Skechers industry executive, and the opportunity to see their own animal print design on a Bobs shoe for a limited edition collection set to be released in June 2024.

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

With Pak’s help, Nadeau applied for the Skechers scholarship in the hopes of paying off her education. Skechers makes a donation to animal welfare groups for each Bobs shoe sold. Nadeau’s artwork is benefiting other rescued animals, such as Firefly.

Nadeau was once terrified by the Adobe Illustrator design software, but he conquered his fears and began drawing silly cats dressed in regal garb. She created several variants of the concept, experimented with color templates, and eventually 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.

In commemoration of Firefly, Bobs from Skechers chose Nadeau’s cat mosaic shoe design from 20 schools around the country. Her Skechers design personnel mentorship will start 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

Nadeau, a transfer student from Saddleback Community College, applied to Cal State Fullerton’s entertainment art/animation and illustration specializations. She was accepted to 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.

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 is the social media specialist for CSUF’s Women in Animation group, which aims to achieve equitable representation in the animation industry by 2025. The group was founded in 1995 with the goal of empowering women in the invention, production, and awards of animation.

Nadeau is also the director of public relations for the Arts Inter-Club Council, which acts as a liaison for all arts organizations with the goal of increasing communication within the College of the Arts and fostering the creation of an artistic community.

In the future, she hopes to work as an animator for Sony Pictures Animation, where she can make history alongside the producers of her favorite film, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” or for video game developer 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.

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