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Daniel MacEachern
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Graphic designer heading to world competition after fours years at nationals

Andrew Power, a 20-year-old graphic designer who works at the Idea Factory, is heading to London in October for a global skills competition. — Photo by Daniel MacEachern/The Telegram

When Andrew Power heads to London in October as part of Canada’s team in the World Skills competition, he’ll be bring four years of regional and national experience with him.

The 20-year-old graphic designer from Conception Bay South will apply his artistic and design talents in a global competition that’s the Olympics for trades ranging from mechanical engineering to hairdressing to web design.

Power was still in high school when he got involved in Skills Canada. He was contacted by someone impressed with some artwork he’d posted online, and suggested he take part in the high school skills competition, which he didn’t even know existed. But he learned quickly, and won provincials and then nationals.

That was the end of the line for him that year, as the world competition is held every two years, and not in Power’s first year of competition. A silver in nationals the following year kept him from the world competition, and the year after that saw another gold medal in nationals — again, in an off year for the world competition.

This year, it all came together.

“Finally, last year, I won provincials again, college level, went to national, got gold — the right year, and now I get to go to worlds,” he told the Telegram.

The competition is an intense six-hour daily replication of design work for a client that gets steadily harder at each level of competition.

“At provincials, there’s only one day, at nationals there’s two days, and at worlds there’s going to be four days,” he said.

“Basically, you’re given a fake client and you’re usually given three pieces — probably a logo to design, something flat like a poster or an invitation, and then the big piece — usually we have to design some kind of package. … We don’t know anything about the client or the project before the morning of. We have half an hour before the competition starts where they give us all the information, we look it over, then we start and we have six hours to do everything from start to finish, including printing it out, assembling it, putting it all together.”

The projects are then scored by a panel of experts to determine the winner.

Power, who earned a diploma in graphic design from the College of the North Atlantic, said he’s always wanted to be a graphic designer.

“I remember in the sixth grade, that’s when I got a computer, the first thing I did was just start to make graphics,” he said. 

“I’ve never considered another career choice, I knew what college I was going to, I knew what I was going to do. I’ve got stuff from the seventh grade that says, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ ‘Graphic designer.’ Always.”

Power started working for the Idea Factory, an advertising agency in St. John’s, in December. There, he hones his skills while planning personal projects.

“As a hobby, I do comics,” said Power, who used to run the strip Comic Sans in The Scope.

“My writing is not good. I’m not a writer. What I would love to do would be draw comics for writers or other people. That would be more my thing, just illustration. I don’t do a lot of illustration at work.”

Ultimately, Power says he’d like to open his own business.

“The Idea Factory is a full-service marketing agency, so they do a lot of stuff that I don’t really know a lot about, like they do commercials as well. They have writers, and all that stuff, and I’d like to keep it smaller in my business, and just do the visuals.”

Power’s artistic bent is turning into a family tradition. His father Ken is a painter and tattoo artist, and his 14-year-old sister Emma seems poised to follow in her brother’s footsteps — by starting even younger.

“She’s into graphic design now,” he said.

“She actually has her own cake business on the side. She’s 14, but she makes these personalized cakes. She wanted to start doing some design for them, so I showed her.”

She competed at Skills Canada last year, in the high school division, and wound up winning regionals and provincials and earning silver at nationals.

The WorldSkills competition takes place Oct. 5-8 in London.

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramDaniel

Organizations: College of the North Atlantic

Geographic location: London, Canada

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  • Mary-Jo Halliday
    March 19, 2011 - 09:21

    Good job Andrew, and good luck in London!!!. Your mom speaks of yours and Emma's success and motivation with such pride. Enjoy the experience.

    • Michelle White
      March 19, 2011 - 12:32

      Good luck Andrew. Impressive for your age! I'll be looking for the follow up article when you're at the worlds. I hope the Telegram keeps track of the competition since one of our very own is going this time!