1. Sevan Ichkhanian

Major: Photography

Instagram: @sevanichkhanian

Think of what you’ve experienced these past years. What advice would you give to newer students?
Don’t be afraid to speak your voice through your work!!! Remember that art is subjective and not everyone is going to necessarily like or understand the message you’re trying to convey, but think of this as an opportunity to change minds and push your limits to create something great. There will be that one person who will look at your work and feel it wholeheartedly, and that person will change into people, and so on — those are the moments that will help you if ever feeling a sense of self-doubt.
How do you think you will handle not having access to studios anymore?
It’s for sure going to be a stressful change of pace going from having access to everything [for free] to looking for newer facilities and having to pay for them. A couple of thesis students and I are planning on getting a studio together and splitting the cost post grad, which I think is a really great way to keep everyone connected and compensate for lack of flexibility that we’re used to having at OCAD. We’re all in need of the same resources — as long as we keep this artists community active, going through it together will make everything a little easier and open up more than one possibility beyond just a studio space.
What obstacles did you find along the way to where you are now, and how did you deal with them?
Too many professors are so caught up in their preconceived notions of what’s ‘right’ vs. ‘wrong’ in the art world that they aren’t capable of seeing beyond the lens of what they know/recommending artists that are relevant to your style. All of my work is conceptualized around self-exploration and female liberation, and my aesthetics in executing my images are very distinct (I love bright colours, using filters in front of my lens, and really anything to add to a photo that will excite the viewer and make people feel things). Having to constantly justify myself and my work to those less progressive has been a struggle, but I’d take the constructive criticism into consideration. At the end of the day, what kept me grounded was remembering who I’m doing this for and what my purpose as an artist is. This is my work, if I put 110% into what I do bringing me to the point of tears when looking at the completed series, I don’t need to apologize for my photos being yellow and glowy or bright pink and grainy.

 

2. Michelle Peraza

Major: Drawing and Painting

Instagram: @mperaza_

Think of what you’ve experienced these past years. What advice would you give to newer students?
My advice to new students is to keep focused. You will learn and develop more by spending as much time as you can on actual art making.
How do you think you will  handle not having access to studios anymore?
The first two years were difficult having to take large paintings back and forth from school to home. Thesis year was great having a studio space to keep my work. It was accessible 24/7. This allowed me to work large scale and on aluminum sheeting. I was most productive in my thesis year because of having studio space.
What obstacles did you find along the way to where you are now and how did you deal with them?
The biggest obstacle during my time at OCAD is balancing work and time to finish my school work to the best of my abilities. Toronto living costs and painting supplies are expensive but I wanted to learn the most that I could at OCAD. First year was difficult in terms of working many hours, but luckily I have been working on campus for two years and able to have enough time to paint and support myself.

3. Eugenia Chan 

Major: Jewelry

Instagram: @eugeniachan_

Think of what you’ve experienced these past years. What advice would you give to newer students?
Looking back I think what has gotten me through the program is simply hard work. There is a such a beauty to see someone flourish with confidence in their work but hard work gets you so much further. I like to think 5% is getting into the program and 95% is showing why you deserve it. With that being said in my four years at OCAD so far i’ve learnt that you need to do it for you and you truly can’t design without passion.
When I started I found that I was making what the professors and others wanted to see and though I was proud of my accomplishments in technique i wasn’t happy and confident with my work. Then when I started to find my own aesthetic and designing things I wanted, others naturally saw the work and appreciated it. The lesson here is when i started to design with my heart I became much happier – you can’t be a cookie cutter.
How do you think you will handle not having access to studio anymore?
I’ve slowly been building my own space which I will admit is not fully equipped but I’ve come to learn that I’ve really taken the school’s facilities for granted. It’s hit me that I won’t be able to just go to a studio and make a display or forge wire as easily anymore which forces me to find space outside. There any many hidden places around the city that offer studio space but the cost and limited access is definitely an issue. Many of the studio spaces have contracted bench spaces so only if you’re lucky you may be able to snag someone’s spot when they leave.
For now, I’m just enjoying the access to the school’s shops (which i highly recommend future students to explore, there is so much to learn) and working part time design at Jennybird a Canadian based jewelry brand. I think of it this way I get to spend time in designing for a company I wholeheartedly admire and get my dose of making in my own time; it’s the best of both worlds.
Besides the studio space I think I’ll miss most is being able to interact with fellow designers and getting their feedback. Being a monitor over the years, made it easier to meet new people and engage in a new way of thinking.
What obstacles did you find along the way to where you are now, and how did you deal with them?
I used to say that I was a workaholic and that meant that I was always the student that could essentially always be found the in the studio making. I was led to believe that was a bad thing especially for my social life. However i’ve slowly come to understand that there are others out there who understand that mentality and it just takes time to find people on the same wavelength.
The other obstacle is feeling like I didn’t have enough support in wanting to build a career from the school, my program is incredibly supportive however I felt like there needed to be more done from the school. I’ve learnt the words Self Driven because that’s essentially what I had to be from finding opportunities for my work to getting my internship eventually my job. Being in this school means continuously seeking for opportunities especially coming from a smaller program.

4. Ali Mapara

Major: Industrial Design

Instagram: @alimapara

Think of what you’ve experienced these past years. What advice would you give to newer students?
Don’t go into an art and design because that’s your last resort, be there because you truly believe you can change the world with a creative mindset. It always comes down to your willingness to push a little harder than you thought you could, always remember ‘people with talent will be good, people who work hard will be good, people with talent who work hard will be great’. Don’t be afraid to be the hardest worker in the room, talk about your ideas, inspire one another, help your friends, OCAD needs more of that! Get to know your professors they are the key to invaluable work experience. Oh and learn to document your work, process is important.
How do you think you will handle not having access to the studios anymore?
OCAD shops and facilities have been amazing, what i will miss the most are the people in the shops, technicians, monitors, students,  it was a pleasure working around so many friendly faces.
Although in my experience if you are working at a design studio that requires you to prototype they will probably have the basic tools to prototype, if higher resolution prototypes are needed they will be outsource, which is a good way to support other local shops and studios. Design is a community not an industry.
What obstacles did you find along the way to where you are now, and how did you deal with them?
When I first moved to Canada I transferred straight into 2nd year of the Industrial Design program, which means I didn’t get a formal introduction to all the shops and facilities OCAD had to offer. It was tricky for abit, because how can you make use of something you don’t know exists. I worked around this by constantly asking questions, speaking to my peers, professors, technicians, you have no idea how much you can learn from the person right beside you.
Don’t overthink challenges and take it one step at a time, remember obstacles are there to learn from and  being uncomfortable is the best way to grow.

Interviews by: Zoe Roiati, Sebastián Rodrìguez Vasti