Posts Tagged ‘student profile’

Student Profile: Amanda Lam

Amanda Lam, Student Profile 2017Congratulations to our Learning Zone Student Monitor, Amanda Lam. Amanda has successfully completed her 4 years at OCAD U with a Bachelor of Design. Although, Amanda was born in Canada she moved with parents to Mauritius when she was four. Her exposure to the design world came at a young age because her dad worked in advertising and her uncle was in the graphic design field. Both her dad and uncle are now owners of their design company.



 LZ: What influenced your decision to major in Advertising?

AL: My dad told me that OCAD U was a really a good school and his creative directors studied there, so I should consider studying there too. When I came to Canada to study advertising it was primarily because my dad really encouraged me, but I ended up really liking OCAD, the design world itself and going into advertising.

Learning advertising at OCAD was really fun but also challenging. It was not what I thought it would be. At OCAD, the focus is on big ideas, concepts and how to bring an idea further and bigger. That’s what I really like about advertising; it puts the idea both squarely with problem solving of a business, and with the design and creative side — that’s fun.

With OCAD, I was exposed to real world clients and briefs and ended up winning the OCAD U Advertising Collaboration Masters Presentation, which was even more motivating. It was the first time I had the opportunity to work on real-life briefs, and it makes me want to do it more.

I’ve learned the importance of networking and making connections. Now that I’m graduating, I notice how more than ever how important it is to talk to people. For design there are a lot of opportunities, it’s just a matter of getting passed being scared about having no experience — just doing it even though you don’t know how to — that’s how I started. You make mistakes, but you have support from profs, parents, and friends to help you out.

Awkmob, Amanda's thesis group

My thesis group named ourselves Awkmob Agency because we bonded over awkward stories. Our group was considered the underdogs and nobody expected us to come in first and second in the Thesis Masters Presentations.

What did you most enjoy about your program?

I love the challenge. In the beginning, I went into the program thinking that I knew what advertising was about, big ads, fun ads but once studying advertising I learned things like copywriting, typography and the importance of design and a call into action. Brands want to see a return investment and getting your target to do something such as the poster may look nice but then what? It can be challenging.

I also liked all of my profs at OCAD, they were real world working people like actual creative directors. It was nice having their view on the industry especially because we are not close to that yet since we are still in school — they would be that step into the advertising world.

What was the most challenging about your program?

I think that advertising is very competitive and that competitive nature of advertising is reflected in our program, that was challenging. Seeing students from the other programs really friendly or chummy, kind of supporting each other but in our program, it is more like competition.

Coming up with new ideas that have not been done, it is something that any designer faces. In such a big world it’s kind of hard to come up with something completely new.

Amanda Lam, Bite project

What do you most look forward to after graduation?

I was looking forward to going back home to the island, to the beach and resorts, and under the sun, but because of the pressures of finding a job, I’m staying in Toronto.

I’m looking forward to finding a job that I will actually like, and to keep on learning. The working world will be so different from being in school, so that is exciting, and a new challenge. Hopefully seeing my work out there, on T.V. or online — that would be cool.

What will you miss the most about OCAD University?

Being able to talk to different design creative students from the different programs at OCAD U. When you go to Grad-ex, you get to see all the students’ work, that you don’t see all year because you are in your own bubble — it’s cool to see other projects and what they are doing. Most of my friends are from illustration program so I’m going to miss them as they will still be here doing a 5th year and I will miss my job at the Learning Zone.



06 2017

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

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

Student Profile: Tetyana Herych

Tetyana Herych taken in the UkraineTetyana Herych is in her final year studying in the Cross-Disciplinary Art: Publications program. She primarily makes print-based work – small edition artist books. She likes to deal with human politics and visual aesthetics. Tetyana is currently in the process of starting a new small press, focusing on publications and artist multiples.

LZ: What do you enjoy most about your program?

 TH: I really like that my program is new, because it allows me to structure my education the way I want to. The head of my program, Johanna Householder, and the creator of the program, Shannon Gerard are both great educators who are open to new and innovative ideas.

 How has the publications program shaped your vision as an independent publisher?

The publications program has introduced me to so many new artists and publishers. It has helped me distinguish the good from the bad, and look at my own work more objectively.

What inspires you?

I am currently inspired by architecture from various eras, decorative patterns, and 50s furniture. Oh and Humphrey Bogart.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading? What are you reading now?

I don’t have a favourite genre, although I do spend a lot of time reading graphic novels. I am currently in the middle of reading Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware, and I am taking my time soaking in the technical details that Ware uses.

During your mobility/exchange program with Pacific Northwest College of Art, you printed a book called Ukraine: In the winter & spring of 2013-2014. How did your experience at PNCA influence the direction of your book?

I would not have been able to print this book at OCADU. At PNCA I had a lot more access to the screenprinting and letter press studio. They were also a lot more organized and less crowded, which allowed me to work comfortably.

In Toronto I know the Ukrainian community, whereas in Portland, I did not know any Ukrainians, and I even ended up living with a couple from Russia. The combination of isolation and a comfortable working environment produced the book.

Ukraine: In the Winter & Spring of 2013-2014 by Tetyana Heyrch

How would you describe yourself as an artist?

I hesitate to call myself an artist, because I feel like an observer or facilitator in the art world. I currently write for an online publication that reviews art shows. I also recently put on a large art exhibition with Jazmine Carr at the Brink’s Building, where we showed over 20 emerging artists associated with OCADU. I think right now I’m taking my time in observing the art world and figuring out what is missing, so that I can fill in the gap with something useful.

What is your creative process?

If I’m taking on a new project, I try to research as much as I can about it online, then I try to talk about it to anyone that would listen. Their reaction gives me a good indicator if it is worth pursuing or not.

When you graduate, you are on a path into becoming an independent publisher, what will be your focus?

My focus will always remain in art, but also other political and environmental issues. You know, things that make us human.

What is your relationship to books compared to e-books?

I only indulge in e-books when they are free, and I am too broke to purchase a hard copy for class, and the library’s copy is unavailable. I do not enjoy reading from a screen. The book is no longer a book. All the physical pleasure associated with holding a book is removed. However, I am interesting in exploring the e-book for small reads that are specifically designed for that medium.

What are 3 likes and 3 dislikes of yours?

I like coffee, soylent, and red wine.

I dislike white wine, wal-mart, and Stephen Harper.

What are your favourite printing processes?

 I enjoy screenprinting, because the possibilities are endless!

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

I enjoy working with ink and watercolours, the immediacy is great for sketching. I’ve also been pushing myself to work more with video, and figuring out what best captures attention.

What do you do to relax?

I like to make cocktails and listen to music.

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

“You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky



08 2015

Student Profile: Mary Ma

Mary Ma

LZ: Tell us a bit about yourself and the art that you create?

MM: My name is Mary Ma, I’m a 4th year student from the Sculpture and Installation program at OCAD U. I’ve always grown up in large cities, very human made places and I recently came back from an exchange in Portland Oregon. There I saw things that were kind of larger than our human world, in the forests, and mountains, and the ocean, and that has inspired the work that I make.

My projects are an attempt to find out for myself what it means to connect and be a part of these larger things in the landscape, and to reconcile a personal sense of loss or disconnect to the natural world to be in a forest, to really see the sky or to sit at the edge of a body of water. What can that tell us about ourselves? What can that tell us about the nature of the world? I take inspiration from those experiences and bring them back into my work and construct large, minimal structures that try to play with our experience of space, and use the imagery that I film from my excursions to create immersive light based work.

Could you describe your experiences going through the OCAD U Mobility and Exchange Program?

I went to a school called the Pacific Northwest College of Art. It was small, about 500 students with programs in design, animation, and art. They had a program there called Video and Sound, and that was where I started learning how to use video projectors as an art material. I took a course called Projection, Sound, Space, and also one called Video Installation, and they really taught me how to get comfortable with technology, and to use media in a malleable way to make work. We put on a media art show in this large gallery that was painted completely black inside, and we had this outdoor projection project where we drove out at night with an electricity generator and projected our work onto buildings. It was really exciting stuff.

Being in Oregon, I realized how influenced I was by my environment and the places I live. My previous work drew inspiration from the density and diversity of people in large cities, and my relationship with the architecture and people surrounding me were a big influence. I needed to renegotiate a new relationship in this new place, because in the beginning, none of the strategies I had were working and I couldn’t make anything. Your peripheral interests start to shift into focus, things that were latent before could now come alive.

Within The Green, 2014 by Mary Ma

What influenced your decision to major in Sculpture & Installation?

Sculpture and Installation appealed to me because I felt it was the most open program and the most conceptually rigorous, where I could do anything that I wanted to do materially and conceptually. It was a place where I could express my thinking in a critical way, while not being limited in terms of what process you take on. I like the diversity of peers and professors, you get to see a lot of interesting projects and talk about big ideas.

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

I’m not sure I’ve always known what art is. It was like this elusive quality that had been hard for me to define for a long time. I always loved drawing. I remember being a child of 4 or 5, and I wanted to draw this pear, so I started drawing it in chalk on the wall of my parent’s bedroom. My father was sitting in the corner, and he saw it and said it looked nice. I was really dissatisfied with that image so, I drew another one and he didn’t stop me. After that I thought that I had free range to draw anywhere I wanted to in the house. I felt that was an important experience even though I made a mess, that you can do something creatively and not have anyone limit you for it.

What inspires you?

Being by the sea.

Do you have a best time of the day to work on your projects?

I usually wake up the same time everyday, and work the whole day. I like this quote from Charles Dickens who said,

I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time

and I try to live by that.

The Sky From This Morning, Mary Ma

Where are you the most productive? Tell us about your creative space?

Everything I do right now is at school. I make everything here but I am looking forward to finding new places to make work after I graduate.

What materials do you work with primarily? Why?

A Canon 70D camera, a tripod, my wide angle lens. A lot of projectors! And video adaptor chords, media players, power cables, that kind of stuff.

 The video projection for me is a reflection of something in reality, although I’m not trying to recreate reality. Technology doesn’t always to have to be antagonistic to the natural world. Perhaps it can be something that points us back to that world.

Meditations In Memory

Is there any artist from the past or present that you appreciate a lot?

Sharry Boyle, Maya Lin, Björk.

What advice would give first year students?

There are so many things you have to know when you first get here. When there is a problem, try to remember to be calm and focused and examine the scope of the problem that you are trying to solve, strategize and learn where you can ask questions.

I think it’s important to do one thing at a time, solve each problem, one after the other otherwise you can become overwhelmed. If you take a step back from the fact that you are here at OCAD for the first time, and that you will be here for a long time past this one problem, and that there is a whole life after that, maybe that perspective will help you feel less crazy about first year.

You recently had a solo exhibition at Katharine Mulherin’s NO FOUNDATION Gallery. Tell us about your experience around the exhibition?

The show was a part of our thesis exhibition series in the Sculpture and Installation program, where we applied to galleries across the city and mounted work outside of school. It was a very exciting thing to do. I had never really worked so hard and so long on something like that before, but people were very kind and enthusiastic. It was nice to see the public’s response to your work and I feel very fortunate to have an opportunity to work with the gallery.

What are your plans when you graduate?

I will be participating in an artist residency at the University of Windsor and living there for a month in May. After that I am going to come back and hopefully find a job.




04 2015

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