Archive for February, 2013

Adobe Design Achievement Awards – Alumni Feature

Kirsten Southwell, ADAA 2012 Winner of Mobile Design category, shares her experience with us….


As designers, we’re always looking for ways to better our work, to evolve as artists and individuals. We grow up, mature, and our understanding of great design grows along with us.

Kirsten Southwell with ADAA 2012 trophy for Mobile Design category

Kirsten Southwell with ADAA 2012 trophy for Mobile Design category

Kirsten Southwell, North Carolina State University and ADAA 2012 winner of Mobile Design category, shared her perspective of the ADAA experience in Toronto. Her story demonstrates how sometimes, the little things become most memorable –  when our colleagues share in our achievement, when our friends share in our joy, and when our professors lift us up, are the times when we truly grow and connect to our community.


Since becoming an ADAA winner, I think I’ve gained a lot of perspective about my own abilities as a designer, as well as a greater appreciation for all of the wonderful support I have as an aspiring professional. I think that the place I have found the most support has been from the studio that I work for, Second Story Interactive Studios.  

For example, within an hour of winning the ADAA award, I was extremely touched to receive a phone call from David Waingarten, a Creative Director at Second Story. David temporarily derailed a meeting he was in, just to congratulate me and share the news with the rest of the studio.  It was a simple gesture, but it became obvious to me, that the individuals I work with enjoy sharing in my success in a way that is far more personal than by simply acknowledging it.

Kirsten hanging a Second Story logo in her studio as an image experiment

Kirsten hanging a Second Story logo in the studio as an image experiment

I was also surprised by how my alma mater, North Carolina State University, took such pride in my achievement. I received emails from all of the professors in the Graphic Design department!  Not only that, but someone thoughtfully took the time to create a large poster, announcing my achievement, then hung it up in the main breezeway of the College of Design.

A poster created to celebrate Kirsten's profile in the ADAA Gallery

A poster created to celebrate Kirsten’s achievement and profile in the ADAA Gallery





I feel my education is invaluable. I am thrilled that I have an opportunity to share the ADAA honor with the program—and specifically the faculty and TA’s—who gave so much of their time and effort to help shape the designer that I’ve become.

My friends have been really excited for me. I think it has been a little eye-opening for some of them to get a bigger understanding and context of the work that I do.  My friend, Chris, came all the way to Toronto to attend the DesignThinkers conference and share in the moment with me. He confided that after they called my name to come on stage, his heart didn’t stop racing for a few minutes later. I found that incredibly endearing that he literally experienced my anxiety – for me.

As far as what I have learned as an artist… I’ve learned the value of making an effort and taking a chance to claim recognition, and become distinguished for your work. I work at an award winning studio, and it’s great to contribute to projects collaboratively. However, receiving individual acknowledgement can only empower you, validate you, and heighten your sense of awareness for the designer that can become.

Kirsten exploring with GIF 2D and 3D, along with colleague, Pillipe Laurlheret, in the studio

Kirsten’s recent exploration, working with GIF 2D and 3D, along with colleague, Pillipe Laurlheret, in the studio

Recently, I’ve been exploring motion. Part of this is in thanks to the DSLR camera I bought with my ADAA Prize Money! It started with a desire to create high-quality GIFS as a storytelling method on the Second Story blog. This has kind of taken off into creating long stop motion animations in Photoshop and creating prototypes in Flash. Now I’m learning AfterEffects – I’m committed to exploring as a designer.





Since being distinguished by the ADAA, I was also honored as a winner in the Optimizing category of the IxDA Interaction Design Awards.   So just last month, I found myself back in Toronto to receive an award at the IxDA13 Conference.

Kirsten's ADAA trophy on display!

Kirsten’s ADAA trophy on display!



At the ADAA 2013, we too share in the joy and achievements of Kirsten and all alumni in the community.  As the ADAA embarks on our thirteenth year, we’re looking forward to recognizing more emerging artists and designers, pushing their pursuit of greatness in design. 

Congrats, Kirsten!  To view Kirsten’s honored work, visit the ADAA Gallery at