Student Profile: Khadija Aziz

Khadija AzizKhadija 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.

Khadija Aziz, self-portrait

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.

Khadija Aziz, LandandScape_

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.



08 2016

xpace External Space: Doorcuts by Zak Tatham

Doorcuts produced by Zak Tatham, Toronto based video and filmmaker also co-founder of Family Contact Production Studios is currently on exhibit at XPACE’s External Space hosted at Learning Zone.

Doorcut by Zak Tatham. XPACE: External Space

Please read Jill Blackmore Evans’ exhibition essay online.

On until August 17

External Space is an exhibition gallery located within OCAD U Library Services’s Learning Zone at 113 McCaul St. hosting a series of media-based videos and animations.



08 2016

Summer in the Learning Zone = zines, books & fun

OCAD Zine Library

Summer in the city of Toronto can warm up very nicely with a host of cultural and diverse events and festivals. It’s also a great time for students to catch a breeze, relax and read. Which inspired me to ask the Learning Zone team a few summery questions.

Dylan North, Faculty of Design: Illustration.

Dylan North. Breeze, 2016

In recognition of International Zine month, what’s your favourite zine from the OCAD Zine Library?

I’ve read many of the zines in the collection…so I’ll just choose a personal classic; College Type Funnies by Chris Kuzma and Patrick Kyle.

What else has been on your summer reading list?

I haven’t been reading any books recently but I always love to kick back with a design annual from the 80s or 90s; Society of Illustrators, Graphis Poster, Graphic Design in Japan, JCA Annual and American Illustration to name a few.

Where’s your favourite place to cool down around or near campus?

The ROM on Tuesdays but the Learning Zone always has the air conditioner on blast.

Khadija Aziz, Cross-Disciplinary Art: Life Studies.

Khadija Aziz. Untitled, 2016.In recognition of International Zine Month, what’s your favourite zine from the OCAD Zine Library?

The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfuckin’ Sad by Adam Gnade.

I like this zine because Adam Gnade gives his readers a pep talk to overcome feelings of sadness and anxiety. He uses light, humourous, and real-talk language to address issues like how to deal with critics and haters in person or online, self-doubt, and positive and toxic friendships, to name a few—all of which students especially art students are very vulnerable too.

What else has been on your summer reading list?

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor.

Achor emphasizes the importance of focusing and acknowledging positive psychology, which means to invest our time and resources in understanding what makes humans happy, and then asking ourselves how we can make ourselves happier.

One exercise Achor mentions is to note three good things of each day at the end of that day. Write them in a notebook, your phone, or best yet—do this with a friend to hold each other accountable for being happier. This keeps us constantly and consciously looking out for the positive parts of our days. We become actively engaged with our positive energy and wake up wondering what will be on our list tonight.

Where’s your favourite place to cool down around or near campus?

My absolute favourite place to cool down near campus, even in the winter, is by the lake near Harbourfront, and my favourite way to get there is through Simcoe St.

Tetyana Herch, Cross-Displinary Art: Publications and 2016 Publications Medal recipient.

Tetyana Herych. Collage, 2016

In recognition of International Zine Month, what’s your favourite zine from the OCAD Zine Library?

My favourite zine from the zine library right now is 3 Minute Girlfriend by Zeesy Powers, made in 2007. She put out a Craigslist ad, advertising that she will be your girlfriend for three minutes at xpace, on a specific date, between 1 to 6pm. The rest of the zine is various responses that she has received from users. It’s kind of really entertaining to read the amount of responses she generated just by including a cute picture of herself.

What else has been on your summer reading list?

I keep on bouncing from book to book but right now I’m enjoying The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick. It’s a lot better than The Book on Information by James Maiangowi.

Where’s your favourite place to cool down around or near campus?

My favourite place to cool down around campus is the library!

Tom Colleran, Faculty of Art: Drawing and Painting.

Tom Colleran, Self-Portrait, 2016In recognition of International Zine Month, what’s your favourite zine from the OCAD Zine Library?

I like the zine Feels Like Lavender by Madison van Riijn. Madison was part of my social group when I lived in Guelph. I enjoy reading stories written by people that I know and to see what kind of work they do. I like her style of linework used in this zine.

What else has been on your summer reading list?

I’m in between books right now. I’ve finished two Tom Robbins books, Half-A-Sleep in Frog Pyjamas and Skinny Legs and All. He has a good ability to mix his crazy theories into story lines a nice mixture of comedy and thought provoking ideas. I also enjoy looking through the American Illustrators and American Photography design annuals.

Where’s your favourite place to cool down around or near campus?

The Learning Zone, it’s pretty cool but I also enjoy just sitting on my front porch.

OCAD U Library Services: Learning Zone

Looking for a cool space to escape from the heat? Our summer hours are Monday to Fridays, 10 am to 6 pm until August 17th. The OCAD Zine Library is open to the public during these hours so, drop by and discover your favourite zine.




07 2016

Student Profile: Dylan North

Dylan North, OCAD University Illustration student

Dylan North is currently finishing his 3rd year in the Illustration program at OCAD University. Dylan’s main focus is primarily in 2D digital illustration, he also enjoys experimenting with many different digital image production techniques including 3D animation and sculpting, motion graphics and music production.

Learning Zone: How long have you been interested in art? How long have you known that this is something you want to pursue as a career?

Dylan North: I’ve always been interested in art but it wasn’t until later in high school that I started devoting a lot of time to expanding my technical facilities beyond simply cartoons and Flash animations. That said, I did not think this was something that I would do as a career. Then I stepped back and looked at what I had been doing ever day for years and realized I was making a lot of images and enjoying it a lot. I guess around that time I started leaning away from a potentially strictly academic post-secondary study and started thinking about a career in the arts.

What influenced your decision to major in illustration?

I wanted some sort of structured environment to hone my skills at. I wanted to be a part of a community of creatives where I’d hopefully learn about techniques I had never explored. I wanted to get out of my miniscule farming town, so I chose Illustration at OCAD U. I felt that I would fit most comfortably in the design stream.

What is your creative process? 

Right now it’s usually pencil thumbnails to work out composition then really loose linears then I scan those in and start a tight linear in Photoshop. Sometimes my vision for an image isn’t clear enough in my head to draw it so, I’ll use 3D software to bash elements together and fly around the scene until I see something that clicks. An image can come from a whole multitude of processes though. Often I will explore an assignment in every medium I can and cross-pollinate the ideas until there’s some clarity to my vision.


What do you enjoy most about studying illustration?

I enjoy the people the most. Studying illustration can be a really personal thing because you are constantly trying to find out how you uniquely visually communicate but then you go into class and realize everyone is going through a similar developmental process and there’s always laughs to go around.

What inspires you?

Used books stores and libraries – you can find old text books, monographs, journal articles that all inspire you in certain ways. The Internet, movies, comics and manga, history, language, memories… everything! It’s good to be learning something and be inspired to make an image at the same time.

Where are you most productive? Tell us a bit about your creative space.

My creative space is in a small apartment in a room that can’t hold all of my things but it’s a good environment to work in because I can play some music, have a video playing, flip through books I love and work at my own speed. I’m most productive in a place where I have sources of inspiration at hand.

What are two of your favourite tools that you could not live without?

My tablet and computer.

What is it that excites you most about the tools you work with? Is there another medium you would like to work in?

I like working on a computer because I can infinitely iterate. While retaining old versions I can skew and distort the work without anxiety of ruining it. Of course, I enjoy painting and drawing so I’m always working on getting better at traditional art techniques. I want to embrace mediums like acrylics, gouache and oils but I don’t have a consistent command on them yet.

Working digitally lets you take the image in the direction that you need to go in a short time plus material cost is low and you don’t need much physical space.


Has attending art school helped you to develop your own personal style? If so, how?

Whatever style I may inherently have will come naturally through creating many images and through my personal execution of an idea. Art school helps you see how varied we all are as artists and I guess it reveals to you the kind of styles you’re not interested in pursuing.

Is there any illustrator or artist from the past or present that have influenced your style?

Too many to name. I think every image I’ve seen has influenced me in some way.

Last year you were an exhibitor in Zine Dream, how did you get started in zine making?

I decided that I wanted to give a try because I like how open the DIY/zine scene is to personal expressions and reflections. I had some illustrations and comics that I thought other people might enjoy so I got some risograph prints and stapled up short zines. I had a lot of fun. It was really inspiring to meet the other artists and a few people actually bought my things, that was cool.

How do you promote yourself?

I try to maintain an active social media presence,

Is there anything else you want to share with us, any final thoughts?

Thank you for asking me about my experiences here.



07 2016

Zine Collective exhibit on until August 18

This year the OCADU Zine Collective worked on a variety of print projects about self-care for artists, including a collaborative zine and a poster series promoting taking time away from work to de-stress.

This summer the Collective also put together an exhibit of zines and Risograph posters to promote the work of its members.

IMG_6218Featuring work by Jenn Woodall (pictured above), Kai Lumbang, Jon Vanneste, Clara Lynas, Tetyana Herych and Bree Rappaport (pictured below), the exhibit is installed to allow the audience to interact with the work and read the zines right on the wall.


July is International Zine Month, so the summer exhibit not only celebrates the work of OCADU students but also the zine community in general by featuring work from American artists Ty Stilwell & Sara Olivier. The zine collective exhibit will be on display until the end of the summer semester.

The Learning Zone accepts exhibition submissions from students, faculty and staff on an ongoing basis. Click here to find information on how to apply to exhibit your work or to curate a show in the Learning Zone.


07 2016

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