June 10, 2018 - 6:00pm
Joe Thoong takes top spot in country in his category
A Vancouver Island University (VIU) student is the nation’s top graphic designer at this year’s Skills Canada National Competition.
First-year Graphic Design student Joe Thoong beat out students from across the country to take the gold medal at the national competition, held June 4 and 5 at the Edmonton EXPO Centre.
“It’s something I’ve wanted for so long and something I have been training hard for, but I don’t think the fact that I’ve won has actually sunk in yet,” he says. “It’s been an exhausting month!”
Skills Canada, founded in 1989 to promote skilled trades and technology careers amongst Canadian youth, hosts the only national multi-trade and technology event of its kind for both high school and post-secondary students and apprentices across the country, states the website. Regional and provincial competitions are held across the country to select the students who participate in nationals.
This is Thoong’s third year competing in Skills Canada competitions, and his second time at the national competition. For the first two years, he competed as a high school student at Georges P. Vanier Secondary School in Courtenay. The first year, he won the silver at provincials, and the second year he won silver at nationals.
“I think I’m a sore loser – I just had to go back and see if I could get the top prize,” he jokes. “I love the adrenaline rush of the competition. When you have only seconds left, it’s weird how much you can get done.”
To increase his chances of winning, Thoong spent 12 hours a week practicing his design work throughout April and May, with Graphic Design Professor Nancy Pagé providing feedback.
“Nancy and I would meet and she would critique my work,” he says. “You have to be versatile because each project you get at nationals is going to be very different in terms of style, medium and tone.”
Thoong completed two very different design projects during the national competition – a logo and packaging design on the first day and magazine cover, back and centre spread on the second. He got interested in graphic design when his high school art teacher Dave Randle introduced him to the industry and encouraged him to enter the Skills Canada competitions.
“I’ve always been a creative kid – I used to always draw and I’ve always been a visual communicator,” says Thoong.
Thoong will head back to Skills Canada nationals in Halifax next year to compete against the silver medal winner in his category from this year for a chance to go with Team Canada to WorldSkills Kazan 2019.
Pagé says Thoong’s success reflects well on the program and confirms that faculty are preparing students for success.
“It’s a fantastic addition to his resumé,” she says. “It demonstrates his commitment to the discipline and showcases his efforts in a tangible way. I think any employer seeing his success in this event provides instant credibility and confirms his level of competency within a skills-based discipline.”
Jenn McGarrigle, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University