Khadija Aziz identifies herself as a Toronto artist and creative entrepreneur and will be entering her 3rd year at OCAD University majoring in the Cross-Disciplinary program Life Studies. Khadija is known for creating art that is intuitive and explorative. She is constantly experimenting with a variety of media and surfaces, challenging traditional approaches to art making.
She grew up in a community of mostly immigrants—she was the only student in her cohort to pursue a post-secondary education in art and design. That inspired her to found the company Sketchbook Toronto, a financially accessible portfolio development program for youth between the ages 15 to 20, to assist youth in seeing opportunities in creative culture. The company provides a bridge between not knowing and knowing.
Learning Zone: What influenced your decision to major in Cross-disciplinary Art: Life Studies?
Khadija Aziz: The main reason I decided to pursue Life Studies is because it was cross-disciplinary. I wasn’t sure what exactly my strength was in art at that time, so I liked that in Life Studies, I would have access to multiple disciplines in the Faculty of Art, which meant that I could always be learning and trying new things that I couldn’t if I chose to stick to one discipline. And now I love that I meet students and professors from across the disciplines and I get to learn a lot about everything.
What are you looking most forward to in entering your 3rd year studies at OCAD U?
I’m looking most forward to our core Life Studies class because it’s always the most interesting. The projects have always been engaging and challenge me to further my practice and ideas about what art is and could be. I’m excited to learn the new approaches, methods, critical thinking and problem-solving through art in that class, and also the rest of my 3rd year.
What two art supplies could you not live without?
Gouache paint and archival ink pen.
Has attending art school helped you develop your own personal style. If so, how?
Yes, of course. OCAD U kept me in touch with contemporary styles, critical thinking, and approaches that local and global artists use in their work. I’ve also been motivated to practice and experiment with different media and surfaces that I might’ve not known even existed. It’s all about being part of the artist community that’s really exciting.
How would you describe yourself as an artist?
Intuitive and spontaneous. I experiment a lot in my practice so I’m always open to trying new things, making mistakes, and especially learning to make that mistake part of my work.
What excites you most about the material you work it? Is there another medium you would like to work with?
I would like to experiment and explore this year with transparent acrylic sheets to play with layering and sculpture.
What are 3 likes and 3 dislikes of yours?
Likes: desserts, paper, lakes/rivers
Dislikes: summer, darkness, the colour orange
You’ve recently been elected as the Director of Diversity and Equity for the OCAD U Student Union. What is your role and what do you hope to achieve?
My role is a new role at the Student Union, so I hope what I’m working on will be continued after my term ends. I would like to design ways to engage more students by empowering them to lead and create change at school. I want to enable students to be the ones to help OCAD U celebrate and raise awareness of diversity and equity issues.
How do you promote yourself?
I promote myself through social media and I attend lots of creative and leadership conferences. They’re great spaces to meet other emerging and professional artists, entrepreneurs, and change-makers who could be potential collaborators and of course, amazing friends. The rule I go by is just, “show up”. Show up to wherever you’ll meet people who you want to be like, learn from them, and always stay motivated.
What are your plans when you graduate?
I would like to continue with Sketchbook Toronto and work on a business plan. I’m considering doing a Masters but I’m not sure in what yet, or maybe I’ll look into alternative ways of learning. I don’t know exactly what I want to do, but somewhere along the lines of creative innovation.