Academy of Art University Students Win Surtex Competition

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School of Fashion Students Take Top Prizes at designext International Design Competition

“If you work hard and believe in yourself you can do it.”

Academy of Art University School of Fashion student Jana Yee won Grand Prize in the annual student competition at the Surtex tradeshow, which includes a $1,000 cash prize. Fellow Fashion student Kenzi Klein also received recognition.

Surtex holds an annual market for selling and licensing art and design. Hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of buyers come to display and view the most cutting-edge designs and artwork. The designext competition, for students in art and interior design schools, gives students around the world an opportunity to get their work in front of buyers and industry professionals.

Both Jana and Kenzi won a trip to New York to present their collections to judges at the Surtex show. The whirlwind experience included exhibiting in their own tradeshow booth.

Previously, Jana worked at a consulting firm, but dreamed of working in a creative field. That passion emboldened her to look at art schools, and she ultimately enrolled at the Academy. She learned about the Surtex designext competition through instructor Jennifer Jeon.

Jana has found her textile instructors inspiring, particularly Jeon. "She has really encouraged me and given me the confidence to stick with it. And without her I wouldn't have even entered the designext competition!" Jana said.

Jana's grand-prize-winning submission, Vitality Blooms, references the colors of the sunrise and the optimism of Art Nouveau designs. She impressed judges with her professionalism, which they noted was "beyond her years of experience."

Jana feels the training and encouragement she received from her instructors was vital in achieving her success. "The most important thing I have learned is that you just have to jump," she said. "If you work hard and believe in yourself you can do it."

Fashion student Kenzi was inspired to consider fashion schools by her love of fabrics and prints. The colors and shapes of deep sea creatures influenced her winning collection, Chambered Nautilus.

The skills of the young designers landed them both freelance projects. Kenzi returned from a conference to find that the owner of a Belgian company wanted her to create a collection for them. "We sat down and they picked out some swatches, and we talked details and – Bam! First freelance job," she said of the experience.

The young designers believe that their time at Academy of Art University helped them to achieve this success and start them on the path to a successful career in design. "The Academy gives us really good opportunities with different companies and competitions," Kenzi said.

About Academy of Art University, San Francisco
With more than 16,000 students, Academy of Art University is the nation's largest private art and design university. Established in 1929, the school offers accredited AA, BA, BFA, MA, M.Arch and MFA programs in 16 different majors, as well as continuing art education, with classes in Advertising, Animation & Visual Effects, Architecture, Art Education, Fashion, Fine Art, Game Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, Industrial Design, Interior Architecture & Design, Motion Pictures & Television, Multimedia Communications, Music for Visial Media, Photography and Web Design & New Media. Art Education is the school's newest major, offering BFA and MA degrees. Students can also enroll in flexible online degree programs in most majors.

Academy of Art University is an accredited member of WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges), NASAD, Council for Interior Design Accreditation (BFA-IAD) and NAAB (M-ARCH).

For more information, visit or call 1-800-544-2787.


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Lynn Dalsing
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