Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Greeting

Name: Mark Gervais
Graduating Year:1998
Occupation: Animator/motion graphics/Illustrator

A flash holiday project by an ACAD grad and former instructor.
Click HERE to view.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Spectrum 16 - deadline January 23, 2009

American Photography 25 - deadline January 23, 2009
American Illustration 28 - deadline February 20, 2009

3x3 Illustration Magazine
Student Show - deadline February 14, 2009
Pro Show - deadline March 14, 2009
Children's Book Show - April 14, 2009

Communication Arts Illustration- deadline March 6, 2009
Communication Arts Photography - deadline March 6, 2009
Communication Arts Design- deadline June 1, 2009
Communication Arts Advertising- deadline June 1, 2009

Applied Arts- Call for entry still to come

Monday, December 8, 2008

Michael Matejko

Student Profile - 4th year Design Student ACAD

It's the journey not the destination that is most important - if you want to get anywhere worth getting. This truism is shown in design major Michael Matejko's process book for Delta Science Force. It is a journey worth following, not only for the process and results, but for the enjoyable 'Geek Chic' narrative he uses to guide the reader. Linked below is a pdf file of the process book, it's a 5mb file, but well worth a look.

Click below to view the pdf process book:

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Name: Zahra Al-Harazi
Graduating Year: 2002
Occupation: Creative Director, Cofounder of Foundry Creative

Zahra is among ACAD alumni who have won awards this past year. Her company Foundry Creative has received awards from
Graphis 2009, Applied Arts 2008, Communication Arts 2008, Mohawk Show 9, How, Ad Rodeo, Black Book AR100 and Oilweek awards.

Here is a list of some of the other alumni awards:

Applied Arts 2008 - Design and Advertising Awards
Joel Arbez – 1 Award in Advertising
Zahra Al Harazi – 3 Awards in Design
Phil Copithorne – 1 Award in Advertising
Xerxes Irani – 1 Award in Design
Jason Stang (Faculty) – 2 Awards in Photography
Todd Blevins (Faculty) – 2 Awards in Advertising
Rita Sasges (Faculty) – 2 Awards in Design

Graphis – 2009 Annual Reports
Zahra Al Harazi – Gold Winner

Society of Illustrators 51 (New York)
Byron Eggenschwiler
Douglas Fraser
Eddie Guy
Renata Liwska
Jillian Tamaki
Sam Weber

3x3 Magazine 2008 Illustration Annual
Eddie Guy
Douglas Jones
Mike Kerr (Faculty)
Karen Klassen
Renata Liwska
Rick Sealock
Brad Yeo

Applied Arts 2008 Illustration Annual
Renata Liwska
Karen Klassen
Rick Sealock

Communication Arts 48
Doug Fraser
Karen Klassen
Genevieve Simms
Jillian Tamaki
Sam Weber

American Illustration 27
Eddie Guy
Karen Klassen
Jillian Tamaki
Jeremy Tankard (Printmaking grad)
Sam Weber

Spectrum 15
Sam Weber - Gold Award Winner

Original Art (Society of Illustrators New York)
2008 Best Children's Books

Renata Liwska (Little Panda)

Ignatz Awards (Small Press Comics Awards)
Jillian Tamaki (Skim)

Applied Arts Student Awards 2008
Katrina Oelke/Barbara Sotiropolous (Advertising)
Matt Luckhurst (Design)
Sander Henriksen (Illustration)
Brennan Kelly (Illustration)
Anne Watson (Illustration)
Edward Kwong (Illustration)
Jason Blower (Illustration)
Kimberly Smith (Illustration)
Geoffrey Fehr (Photography)
Michael Langfeldt (Photopgraphy)
Charise Folnovic (Photography)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Illustration Show at ACAD

The Third Wave / Illustration Show '08
VCD Major Show - Illustration and Character Design Stream

Main Mall, Alberta College of Art and Design
1407- 14 Ave NW Calgary, Alberta
Show run through to December 5th

One of the artists featured in the show is Edward Kwong.
Ed graduated last spring, his work can be seen here:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Joel Arbez

Name: Joel Arbez
Graduating Year: 2004
Occupation: Art Director

What are you up to now? I’m an art director at WAX

How did you end up there? I like their work and I really enjoy being part of something new and exciting. WAX is a young and hungry agency and we seem to be a good fit.

What skills are important in your occupation? Conceptual skills is the trump card, but drawing skills are also a great asset in a small agency when budgets don’t allow for comp artists or illustrators. Also knowledge of what’s been done and what’s no longer relevant is key to creating fresh work.

What should a student have in an advertising portfolio? Great ideas first and the ability to craft them second.

What is your average day like? Coffee, conceptualize, coffee, pretend to conceptualize, coffee, youtube, then coffee.

What are the challenges and/or rewards in your occupation? Every day is different. Each client brings new challenges. Some allow for very creative solutions others play puppet master, but in the end you’re being paid to pull something out of your head and materialize it.

What were your goals or dreams when you left college? Were they realized, changed, how?
Some have been others have yet to be. I’ve always wanted to work in a large agency with international clients. The closest I came to that was at DDB Toronto for a one year stint. It was great, but big clients come with big headaches; to be honest I think big cities aren’t for me.

Has art school contributed to where you have found yourself today? Absolutely. I’d still be wrapping lettuce in at your local grocer had I not gone.

Any advice or words of wisdom to students? Try to find inspiration from your work elsewhere than other people’s work. “Better to fail in originality then succeed in imitation”. I forget who said that but it has always helped me push limits.

How did your perception of the real world change after art college? It’s a lot less forgiving and much more restraining.

What were some of the difficulties you faced when you got out of art college? Finding a job that paid my rent. In advertising if your not winning awards, you’re not making good money. It took a while to get my name recognized.

Any Final Thoughts? Send me your stuff, guys. I’m always looking for new talent and we use illustrators often.

here are a couple illustration/photography specific questions:

What is illustration or photography good for? In advertising, photography imitates reality or creates a false illusion of that reality. Illustration on the other hand gives a more personal voice to a visual piece and can be an effective tool in helping brand a product or service. Plus it’s freaking wonderfully entertaining when done properly.

When you hire a photographer or illustrator how do you find them? I usually go through annuals, Communication Arts, Applied Arts, Luerzers archive, etc. I also like to go to the ACAD portfolio show for new blood.

From an advertising point of view, what is important in an illustration/photograph? Attention to detail. And consistency of quality.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Type Design

Display of 3rd year type design projects.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Brennan Kelly

Graduating year: 2008
Profession: Illustrator
Brennan will be among the featured artists for the third annual Illustration show, which will be set up next monday the 24th of November in the main mall at ACAD. It's only up for a week but will feature some great student work from last years graduating class as well as a mix from the current year and previous years. It will also include a special feature showcasing the work of several successful alumni.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sander Henriksen and Scott Kowalchuk

An exciting aspect of modern technology is that it has allowed school to transcend the classroom. Many students are sharing their work and growth on a daily basis through tools such as Blogger or Deviant Art. Here are a couple of examples.
Sander Henriksen
Graduating Year: Current 4th year Illustration Student

Scott Kowalchuk
Graduating Year: Current 4th year Illustration Student

Saturday, November 8, 2008

In the news

Here are a few updates regarding grads we have already featured.

Juxtapoz is doing a feature on Geoff McFetridge in their current issue and have posted an online studio tour on their blog.
Here is a link.

Jillian Tamaki's graphic novel entitled Skim has been selected by the New York Times as one of the top 10 children's books of 2008.
Here is a link.
This is in addition to Skim being chosen as one of Publishers Weekly's top 10 books of 2008, winning a 2008 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Graphic Novel and a nomination for the Governor General's Award for children's book writing. Skim is illustrated by Jillian Tamaki and written by Mariko Tamaki. I'm embarrased to admit that I have only looked through the copy I picked up at Another Dimension during the summer.

Update: Here is a LINK to an article in the Calgary Herald discussing the controversy over the Governor General's Award.

And I have to mention my own Renata Liwska's opening of Little Panda which shows at Uppercase Gallery until Nov 30, students check it out if you haven't already. Little Panda has been selected to participate in a traveling show from the 2008 Original Art Exhibition (currently on exhibit at Society of Illustrators in New York). Dylis Evans, founder of the Original Art, has hand picked Renata's artwork to travel. Only 40 pieces from the entire show will travel to schools all across the US. Renata's book has also been selected by the Toronto Public Library as one of the Top 10 children's books of 2008.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tanya Lam

Graduating Year: Current 4th year Illustration Student

Tanya's show "Demon City" opened last night at 'This is Nation' in Art Central.
Below are shots of her working on a mural in the front window of the gallery, see the finished image and the rest of the show which runs from November to December.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fiona Staples

Occupation: Comic Book Artist
Graduating Year: 2006

What are the chances of working as a comic book artist?
For Fiona, the chances were pretty good. But it was her passion and determination more than luck that made it a real thing.
This was proven in her final semester at art college. For her portfolio development class she choose to work on a comic book, Done To Death, in collaboration with writer, Andrew Foley. It was picked up by a U.K. publisher and the die was cast.
Editors took notice and Fiona has been hard at it ever since. Working on superhero comics such as Wildstorm Comics -The Secret History of the Authority: Jack Hawkmoor. And pulp covers like Sheena: Queen of the Jungle. When asked how she’s been able to stay busy, Fiona replied, “Make your deadline, editors like that... A lot of artists want to work in comics but when it comes down to doing an entire comic book they just flake out.”

Here is an interview about here comic book work:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ryan Davis

Graduation year: 2007
Occupation: Graphic Designer

How did you go about getting your job at Circa?
Before Graduating, I began researching where I wanted to work. I ended up coming across a website called which posts jobs all within the action sports industry. I signed up and started applying for jobs online. It took me a couple of months before anything came up. I came home and had received a message from my current boss, Jamie Kanes, saying that she wanted to have a phone interview with me about a position they had open. I called her back. The phone interview went well, and Jamie said she would look into flying me down for another interview. One thing led to another, and a month later, I was living in California.

What was the objective with these particular images?
The direction for these ads came about with the new team that Circa was putting together for our Combat division. The Combat division is the "core" division that is marketed to sell only to local skate shops. The team is stacked with five gnarly kids who are all absolutely out of their minds, literally! The creative director's goal with these ads was to reflect the rider's crazy personalities and to have these ads stand out from the rest of the ones that are currently being produced. I was given a lot of freedom to do what I wanted to do. The only limitation given was the resources I was able to use. My creative director said to me "Ryan, these need to be BAD!" I was like awesome; I guess all the bad marks in school finally paid off.

What was the process for developing them?
The process used for these ads was inspired by the simplicity of DIY punk flyers from the 80's. The goal was to use a simplistic raw approach by only using the bare essentials. My process is similar to the way you would present things to your teacher in school. I have three concepts to show; one is chosen and then from there, it is refined to a final. All concepts are presented as 'cut and paste' compositions using a photocopier, scissors, and the colors Kinko's had available at that time.

Any particular ways art school has helped/contributed to your current work?
The tedious 1st and 2nd year cut paper projects that everyone thinks are a waste of time have paid off for me. I loved 2nd yr. The idea of craft is key to any project. How you perceive it is up to you. School is basically a safe ground for experimenting, learning how to experiment and finding ways to process your thoughts through experimentation. I think as long as you bring this process with you to any project, you will do fine.

Any advice to students on how they can end up doing cool stuff like this?
Do not be afraid to take chances, especially in school! Your grades mean nothing when it's all said and done. Approach every project, good or bad, with the same attitude and energy, something good will come of it.

Looking back, any advice to students?
Research, experiment and have fun!

Anyone you would like to thank?
I would like to thank Jamie Kanes for hiring me, Randy Ronquillo my art director for keeping things grounded and pushing the limits, Dennet Oyanguren my creative director for being completely more crazy then myself, Terrance Kinsella the person who introduced me to art college, and all the teachers who have helped me along the way. Thanks.

Credits on image:
Creative Director: Dennet Oyanguren
Art Director: Randy Ronquillo
Photographer: Broach
Designer: Ryan Davis

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Silas Kaufman

Student Profile - 4th Year Illustration Student ACAD
Education: ACAD 92-96, BFA. UofC 98-00, Bed.

What was the project?
Process book documenting Skaters I’ve known since the late 80’s.

What was your objectives or goals with this project?
The main focus I had while drawing was to find my voice in the visual sense. I wasn’t concerned about any narrative. Narrative for me was just a vehicle to travel through potential styles of drawing. This project afforded me the luxury to do this and I am grateful for that.

Describe your process?
I get up in the morning and quickly finish my chores and then draw my guts out. Sometimes life gets in the way of drawing, but I try to stay focused on my illustration and design work. I begin with line drawings to warm up and then move into colour and paint. My mediums vary depending on the project. Right now I’m focused on pen and watercolour. I still struggle a little with digital media but I’m vastly improved compared to my first attempts.

What did you enjoy the most about the project?
Getting the green light to explore. Drawing little line portraits on big marker paper. It was hell to scan in the end, but worth it.

Were there any breakthroughs or milestones?
Oh yes! I painted these landscapes with watercolour and then I drew random line portraits of skaters over top. This came to me out of necessity, as the reference material I was using did not align with the landscape. So I was forced into an honest approach of graphitizing my own work with line drawings. I was surprised at how well it worked. It brought a sense of memory to the work that I was pursuing form the start. I’m very happy I arrived there.

Anything you will explore further?
I am currently working on a graphic novel that insists on being more narrative with the visual style I was using in the previous project (the process book). I’m going to explore the graphitizing of my own work, but I’m saving it up for a visual punch when the story climaxes. Until then I’ve been punishing myself with pointillism. The result is great but the time investment is huge! Yikes!

Why did you go to art school in the first place?
You’d never believe it, but I went because someone told me that it was the last day to register at ACA (back in 1992 it was called ACA) for classes. I asked how much it cost to register and they said it was 15 bucks and I had 15 bucks in my pocket. So I skated over to the college and registered. I had no plan back then. I just took opportunities as they came to me, the whole idea of going to art school was hilarious to me so I just dove in.

What made you choose to come back to school?
I was working part time at the Con Ed department teaching kids classes at ACAD when I found out that I could get free credit courses offered through Con Ed. So I decided to take the first year design class, out of interest partly, but mostly because it was another random opportunity that crossed my path. From the very first class I was hooked. Alison Miyauchi was a ruthless teacher who demoted me right from the start. She blasted all my ideas and told me that I was next to hopeless. I loved it. No one had ever challenged me that way. I’d always been given praise for having good drawing skills, but Alison kicked my ass to a higher level. For years to follow all I could think about was to come back and take design and illustration.

What are your future goals/dreams?
I need to pursue a career in illustration it’s now my dream, it’ll be tough but I’m feeling confident. I also need to travel and see the world outside of Calgary. My wife wants to start a family soon so I imagine I’ll be heading back to teach part time so she can focus on the little dude once he or she shows up. But before that we’re going to travel together. I wouldn’t be where I am now without all of her support and sacrifice. My wife rules in everyway, she’s even an equal or better drawer than I am and she could easily fill my shoes at ACAD and go on to world fame.

Have you approached art school differently this time around?
Absolutely! Oh man back in the 90’s I thought of art school as a side project to my social life. I just relied on my drawing talent to get me by, but I had no plans for success. I watched others who may not have had the talent I had but they had the drive I lacked. I’ve watched them surpass me in the visual arts because they worked so much harder than anyone else. The old saying “you get out what you put in” is so true. This time around I force myself to be driven, to work harder than anyone around me. It’s not a competitive thing, I just have the luxury of hindsight to understand what it will take to succeed.

Any questions or advice you would ask other graduates?
Yes, I need to know how they’re making a go of it in the industry. I never tire of hearing how they succeed and fail in the real world. It’s always cool when they come into our classes and give a talk. It’s very useful for us students to hear what they have to say.

What is rewarding about art school?
The next assignment is always rewarding it’s like getting a new puzzle or toy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Geoff McFetridge

Graduating Year: 1993
Occupation : Designer/Illustrator

It's exciting to see a unique and striking image. It's more exciting yet, to see it used in a unique and striking way. An example is this modular wallpaper system designed by Geoff McFetridge. Visit the Pottok Prints blog for more information and images:

Not unlike his work, Geoff has a clean and clear way with words. There are quite a few good interviews on his site. This is a excellent quote from Geoff describing his objectives in creating an image: If you understand this poster you understand me. And really this poster is about us understanding each other.

A funny story, for me at least, we were visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lodz, Poland expecting to get a taste of Eastern European avant garde and were surprised (pleasantly) to see Geoff's work in an exhibition titled 'Beautiful Losers'. A great show by the way.

Raymond E. Biesinger

Graduating Year: Self Taught
Occupation: Illustrator

Wonderfully minimal! Is how I would describe the work of Raymond E. Biesinger. On his website he describes himself as a self-taught illustrator based in Edmonton, Canada, who likes conceptualizing, minimalism, art, and progressive politics. He deploys pens, computers, inks, acrylics, photos, rubber stamps, photocopiers, printers, blades, typewriters, Letraset, and a BA in European and North American political history. This group has served him well since 2001, when he began drawing at the U of A's student paper, the Gateway. There he enjoyed writing and editing weekly columns as Managing editor, but dreaded his other duty: finding editorial cartoonists. Several last minute fill-ins later, Biesinger decided to fill the space himself by shoe-horning his dark, semi-cubist black and whites into the role of a pundit, a realm usually defended by loose-handed cartoonists.

Check out Raymond's upcoming publication 100 B/W: Black on White Illustrations from The Belgravian Press.
I've got my order in the mail.
(found via

Monday, October 20, 2008

Jillian Tamaki

Graduating Year: 2003
Occupation: Illustrator

Jillian posted an excellent guide on idea generation.
To view go to her sketchblog here:

For a great interview with Jillian go here:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Brett McEwen

Graduating Year: 1993

Occupation: TV production


What are you up to now?
I am working doing freelance TV production.

How did you end up there?
I tried freelancing as an illustrator, but the isolation didn't suit my personality so I started doing photography. After a couple of years I landed a contract doing product shots for a sporting goods retailer. As they started to do television advertising I thought that it looked like fun so I taught myself Maya, After Effects, and Final Cut. When an opportunity arose, I was poised to step in and have been doing TV ever since.

Has art school contributed to where you have found yourself today?
Absolutely, without art school I would be digging ditches.

Is there anything you learned from attending art school that you  
apply in your current situation?
Yeah, a lot of stuff actually. Composition, drawing, painting etc. I draw on these skills on a daily basis. Also the sheer effort it took to make it through VC got me used to working long hours. It took a huge effort working evenings and weekends to learn the skills necessary for TV production.

What inspires you now?
I get inspired by looking at the careers of successful individuals like Robert Rodriguez (Once upon a time in Mexico) and Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma). These guys just went out and took risks and made movies on their own terms and ended up with big Hollywood careers.

What inspired you in art college?
Successful illustrators like Gary Kelly and Doug Fraser.

Any advice or words of wisdom to students?
Get started immediately on your projects and be careful that you don't waste too much time trying to come up with the idea of the century. It's important to leave yourself enough time to produce. The last thing you want is to be pulling an all-nighter just to get finished, this is the path to burnout.

Any advice or words of wisdom to graduating students?
Procrastination is your enemy. Simply by creating a portfolio and knocking on doors you will find work of some sort. Ignore negative people. Ignore your fears, if you feel fear that means you are making the right moves. Don't think too much about the big picture, break it down into small steps and just accomplish one task after the other, you'll get there.

Is there anything you would do differently if you were in art school  
Relax and not try so hard.

How did your perception of the real world change after art college?
I tried to do a few different things without success. I learned that I was choosing a path solely on doing what I enjoyed, once I learned to focus on a vocation for which there was a demand things took off. The demand for photography is much bigger than for illustration, but I found that the type of work I was getting was kind of boring so I picked something that was both creatively more interesting and a growth industry and had some success.

What were some of the difficulties you faced when you got out of art  
Complete lack of business skills. VC and photography should be 20 percent business. Photographers and illustrators cannot survive without knowing how to run a business.

Did you do any further schooling after art college?
I spend a lot of time doing tutorials that I purchase from Digital Tutors and The Gnomon Workshop, to expand my expertise with Maya and After Effects.

Any memories, anecdotes of art school you can share?

Anything you miss about art school?
I miss the camaraderie. I had a lot more fun in art school than I have working.

What were your goals or dreams when you left college? Were they  realized, changed, how?
Oddly enough I wanted to do effects for the movies, I never bothered to pursue that because computers were outside my sphere of experience and I couldn't afford to do more schooling. (I wanted to go to Art Center, and be Syd Mead but I didn't have a spare $150,000) But eventually computers and software came down in price to where I was able to purchase a system of my own and now in a small way I am doing what I originally wanted to do.

Any Final Thoughts?
Most of what I have accomplished was driven by personal work, a few years ago I set out to make a war documentary and the skills I learned in trying to accomplish that are the skills I use to make a living now.

Janine Vangool

Graduating Year: 1995
Occupation: designer, curator, publisher

What are you up to now? How did you end up there?
I started my design company, Vangool Design & Typography, in the year following graduation. Early on, I was able to specialize in design for arts and culture. Since opening UPPERCASE gallery, books & papergoods in downtown Calgary's Art Central building, I have been dedicating more and more time into growing the business as a fun shop as well as a venue for my own creative and entrepreneurial endeavours. In the past year, I have published three books and am looking forward to continuing on that path.

Has art school contributed to where you have found yourself today?
Attending ACAD was an initial step in the right direction. I entered the visual communications program right out of highschool, so those four years were useful to gain some skills and to mature a little.

Is there anything you learned from attending art school that you apply in your current situation?
The most significant thing is that for my graduating project, I designed an identity for a bookstore. Now I've fulfilled my dream of having a bookstore and design company rolled into one.

What inspires you now?
Perhaps it is the solid decade of working exclusively on the computer, but I am increasingly inspired by things made by hand. Reading favourite blogs and seeing images by my favourite photographers on Flickr is very inspiring and motivating. I also follow the careers of successful entrepreneurial creative women who are my virtual mentors.

What inspired you in art college?
In college and when I first graduated, I devoured design books and magazines. The were instrumental in motivating me to start my own business.

Any advice or words of wisdom to students?
School is nothing like real life!

Any advice or words of wisdom to graduating students?
Do what you love, first and foremost. Jobs and income will fall into place if you're sincerely passionate about your craft.

Is there anything you would do differently if you were in art school now?
I would go to graduate school in a foreign land.

How did your perception of the real world change after art college?
When I was in school, there was absolutely no instruction on managing your own business. It did not offer a real-world depiction of a career in graphic design. So I learned a great deal on my own by trial and error.

What were some of the difficulties you faced when you got out of art college?
I had a solid portfolio, great response at the portfolio show and a dozen interviews within the first month after graduation, but not a single job was available. I thought I was a star student and jobs in Calgary would be coming my way, but it took a number of months before I found something. And even that was only tangentially related to graphic design. After nine months, I quit the job and started freelancing.

Did you do any further schooling after art college?

Anything you miss about art school?
nope! In my evolving career, I am constantly learning - this keeps be energized and excited about going to work every day.

What were your goals or dreams when you left college? Were they realized, changed, how?
I always hoped to have my own design studio, so that goal was realized much more quickly than I ever imagined. I thought I'd get a job in a studio and learn the ropes for a few years! Now, as I develop UPPERCASE, my goals are centred around self-driven projects. Client-based projects are becoming a secondary aspect to my worklife.