Sheridan Illustration Program Review

I get a lot of traffic on my blog from people looking for more information about the Sheridan Illustration (BAA) program so I thought I would provide some for the people who are trying to decide whether this program is for them or not. Please note that there are two streams: interpretive and technical. I chose interpretive and thus can only speak to it. Also, I graduated in 2011, so some of my information may be outdated. This article reflects my own personal opinions and experiences.

Some Basic Information
There are 2 15 week semesters per year, including 2 reading weeks (break weeks). The first semester typically starts in September and runs 7 weeks, then a break week, then 7 more weeks and a Christmas break (usually 3 weeks although one year we had 4). This is repeated in January; 7 weeks, a break week, 7 weeks. Classes are always 3 hours each. Some are labs (such as life drawing) and some are lectures (art history). There are a couple field trips; The Royal Winter Fair and downtown Toronto to Kensington Market. Be prepared to sit at a lot of malls and sneakily draw people while they shop, eat and chat obliviously (and sometimes not too obliviously).

Third Year
At the end of third year you will be given an ‘assignment’ for the summer. You must come up with a thesis project for fourth year. Some people wrote and illustrated children’s books, some people illustrated their dreams and some people chose a theme and did illustrations based around it. Take your time and choose a project you will enjoy because you will spend the next year on them and it is likely that these illustrations will be the ones you display at your graduation show.

Internship
In your third year you will have to complete a ~400 hour internship which will be completed in the summer break between third and fourth year. Around January of your third year you will start meeting with the co-op coordinator to prepare you to apply. The vast majority of internships that were available in my year were unpaid (and even the ones that were, were often paid a small lump sum at the end of the internship). Some of the positions that were available were: being mentored by another illustrator, working at a video game company, working at a graphic design/advertising agency, working at a magazine publishers. You may also pursue a freelance internship but it requires you write a business plan and have it approved. Be prepared to have to commute into Toronto. Although the placements are all over Canada, most of them were in Toronto.

This internship program was one of my worst experiences with this program. We weren’t qualified for many of the jobs that were offered to us, as they required HTML/CSS/Javascript knowledge or advanced video editing skills and sometimes 3D modelling skills. Many of my friends would go to interviews only to find out that they didn’t know how to do the job. Also during this period I accumulated much more debt as I wasn’t able to work full time making money over the summer. I sincerely hope they have made improvements to this area.

My desk in the 4th year illustration workroom.

My desk in the 4th year illustration workroom.

Fourth Year
The focus of fourth year is to really develop your individual style as an illustrator and to create pieces for the year end grad show.  You will be given free rein to create your own illustration projects. All the fourth year illustration students get their own little drafting table workspace in a special room in this year. You will also be required to complete a project with an outside company (we worked with Rethink Communications) for a final project to advertise the Grad Show.

After Graduation
  For me, after graduation was a wake up call for the real world. I honestly thought that I would have no problem getting a full time 9-5 decent paying job in the field. Boy was I wrong.  I had a couple of people laugh at me and tell me my degree was useless. One guy even told me to go back to school. Graduating from this program isn’t the end… it’s really just the beginning of the real hard work.

This Program is Not For You if:
  – If you are not extremely self driven. The more you put into this program, the more you will get out. I always regretted not going to more extra life drawing classes and not being more involved.
  -If you want a program with a lot of digital skill building. In the first few years you will NOT be allowed to do any projects digitally. In fact, many of my professors had an open disdain for digital art.
-If you’re expecting to graduate and get a a 9-5 40k+ job the next day.  This is a highly competitive and very small field. Even worse, it seems that recently our skills have become devalued by crowd-sourcing sites and the notion that anyone can do it with the magic of Photoshop.  Taking the technical stream will increase the likelihood that you will get a full time job.
-If you’re looking to get into video game art/concept art I would instead recommend animation or a program elsewhere.

 

Northern Ontario Map

:(

:(

I recently finished up an illustrated map about land planning in northern Ontario. Two days after accepting the job I sprained my thumb playing in net at a soccer game (ironically I haven’t played net in at least a decade, always using the excuse that I was an artist and couldn’t risk injuring my hands). Of course it had to be my right hand.

But if my illustration education taught me anything, it’s that the show must go on. Clients are relying on you meeting the deadlines and in the illustration field your reputation is everything!  So I toughed it out and here is the end result :) In this case I did do the graphic design.

 

 

 

Northern Ontario Map

Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

Coat of Arms

I was asked to design a family crest for a client that could be scaled up for a wall tapestry (so able to be vectorized) but also used as a tattoo for herself and her two siblings. I’m looking forward to seeing their tattoos and will add photos to this post when I receive them :).

Family Crest

Tiger Beetle Illustration & Bird-watching in the GTA Map

Well, one of my New Years resolutions this year was to update my blog at the very least once per month. I didn’t do so well on that front but instead of admitting that I failed that resolution and give up, I’d rather say that I just need to try harder :) It’s been tough balancing my 9 to 5 job, commute and extra curricular activities and lately my art has fallen by the wayside but I’m determined to change that!

Here is a published piece that I did back in October 2011:

Another published piece for the same client. This piece was a challenge for me and the amount of roughs proves it!

  

Roughs/WIP progression and a rather washed out photo of the final. Graphic design was done by the art director.

A little dragon I doodled forever ago. He’s supposed to be small, think Tinkerbell sized, and his main prey are fairies.

 That’s all for now but I plan on updating my blog in the next couple of days with a plethora of doodles I’ve been doing on my lunch breaks, and a couple of personal pieces.

First Published Work, Diploma & More

About a month ago my client sent me a copy of the magazine that I illustrated for, my first published work! I was really flattered they took the time to send me a copy as I’ve heard that practically no one does this anymore.

Here are the spots I did. They ended up not using the geese (my favorite) and replaced it with a frog. In the actual magazine the spots are only about a square inch and are scattered around a map with information on the animal. I couldn’t have asked for a better first job. Everyone was so great and easy to work with and I love drawing animals so it was perfect.

In other news, I finally got my degree (aka the most expensive piece of artwork I will ever own) in the mail. I have to admit it was kind of underwhelming, it almost looks like I could have printed it off at home from my printer. Oh well, live and learn.

My degree!

Here’s a little something I’ve been working on:

I’ve been itching to draw a Predator for ages. I am a huge fan of the franchise, I’ve read a lot of the comics, seen all the movies and I was first in line when Predators came out :) I started this as a silly doodle when I was working on my graduate show art but now I can give it some more attention.

I started this as a sketch that I did a lot of rendering on but I found it a bit bland so I spontaneously grabbed some leftover oil paint and splattered it on the image. Her face got a bit skewed but I like how the colours came out. In the sketch it was more evident that she’s wearing an eye patch and has a half shaved head. I think I might have to draw her again.

WIP

I’ve always wanted to do a pinup girl so here is one I’ve started. Right now she’s nude but I plan on giving her some sort of crazy outfit, possibly sci-fi themed. The second image is supposed to have a WoW-ish vibe to it.