Updated Tue, Apr 29, 2014 3:17 pm
When seventh-grader Emi Olin of Athens picked up her first crayon as a toddler it was the start of an interest in drawing that has now led to her being named the Ohio winner of the "Doodle 4 Google" contest, with a shot at the national title.
Olin's accomplishments will be celebrated at an assembly Tuesday afternoon at Alexander Local Schools, according to her mother, Ellie Olin.
For being one of 50 state winners, Emi was awarded a computer tablet as a prize, and will be flown to California next month for an awards ceremony where she will find out if she is the national winner.
Winning the top prize would have consequences for both Emi and her school. She would get a $30,000 scholarship, and Alexander schools would get a $50,000 technology grant.
Those who want to see Emi's drawing can go online and, if they want, help her get closer to the national prize. Starting Tuesday, people can go to the "Doodle 4 Google" website and vote for their favorite drawings, which will determine the five national finalists. The winner will be chosen from the finalists by a group of Google executives.
Although she's only 13, Emi's interest in art is longstanding.
"I've been drawing since I could pick up a crayon," she said.
Her mother can attest to that.
"I have boxes of her art," Ellie said. "She used to get in trouble for drawing on all her tests and homework."
Emi may have started out with a crayon, but she is decidedly more high-tech now. She does hand sketches in a sketchbook, photographs them and then uploads the pictures onto a computer tablet, where she finishes each drawing and adds color.
"Sometimes I have to make a few adjustments just to make it look right," she said. "I like drawing canines and creatures of my own creation."
On Saturday she had a booth at the Ratha Con pop culture festival at the Athens Community Center. Brytton McGuire of Athens bought one of Emi's drawings.
"It's phenomenal," McGuire said. "It's very clean, very well put together."
Ellie said her daughter won her age category, but didn't know that until Emi was told she had won for the entire state of Ohio. But Emi wasn't informed directly by Google.
"My husband (Mikio), he got a phone call ... they wanted us to video tape her reaction," Ellie explained.
When they sat Emi down in front of a camera to tell her, Emi thought she was going to be told something quite different — that there was going to be a new addition to the family. But then she was told about her contest victory.
"Are you serious?" Emi asks on the video. "Are you serious?! Are you serious?!!"
Finally, after asking the question several times with increasing excitement, she realizes they are serious. She is Ohio's winner of "Doodle 4 Google" and will be going to California.
Her art is below. You can vote on the "Doodle 4 Google" competition site.