“Everyone said don’t skip the first year. [They said] taking that first year was the best thing they’d ever done.”
-Michael Pohl, Student of the New Brunswick College of Craft & Design (NBCCD)
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a familiar question that many have grown to hate. It’s stressful for people to decide the course of their future, especially if they haven’t had the opportunity to base their decisions on real-world experiences. The New Brunswick College of Craft & Design strives to provide students with ample opportunity to explore their individual creativity and our one-year Foundation Visual Arts program (FVA) is the perfect place for such aspiring artists.
FVA is a one-year preparatory program wherein students build a foundation of skills and knowledge that will support them throughout their entire creative journey. Students will test out a selection of NBCCD’s many studios while completing classes fundamental to their advancement as professional artists. These core subjects include drawing, design, colour, writing, business, creative process and art history.
Emily Clancy, a current student in the program, explained how coming to the college was a major shift from her experience with other learning institutions. She was thrilled to discover she would have a class with designated drawing time: “Before school I worked on art, but I stopped drawing in university because there was no time. Starting at NBCCD, I had three hours [per week] where I could sit down with an easel and do stuff.”
Emily is not the only student who takes pleasure in the program’s hands-on curriculum. Her fellow classmate, Jordyn Jonah, enjoyed trying out the different studios, stating “it’s really cool to have all the tools at your disposal to experiment with different mediums.” This experimentation helped Jordyn to realize Ceramics wasn’t the right fit for her and opened up new possibilities. As Emily explained, many students come to the program knowing what they want to do whereas others “find themselves along the way.”
While providing students with the chance to experiment in different creative fields, the FVA program also refines time management skills and prepares students for future success in their studies and careers. Emily explained that faculty members stress the fact that careers have deadlines and learning to manage those deadlines has been an asset. As well, Emily found that having to keep track of her artwork and maintain it in proper condition was important practice. “Now,” she explains, “I have a body of work to pull from.”
Jordyn is also thankful for what she has gained from the program. She explained how FVA gave her “better stamina” by making her more consistent with her art: “I’ve changed so much in this first year. My art is a lot more focused than it used to be. I understand how to implement colour now and I understand how to compose stuff better.” Though Emily and Jordyn are both recent high school graduates, the program has lots to offer mature students too.
Returning to school as an adult, Michael Pohl laments that he once thought concept planning was a waste of time. Now he tells a different story: “I’ve been taught now just how incredibly beneficial it is, especially when you do it in a productive manner. Getting those bases covered has been allowing me to create better projects and just be more organized.”
With a solid foundation of skills behind them, FVA graduates are able to continue on their creative journeys with confidence. Many graduates will continue their education at NBCCD, but the program also helps graduates considering other design schools. Whatever a student’s chosen path, NBCCD has always been devoted to providing students with the necessary skills to pursue a viable career in the arts while maintaining a space where students can be challenged to experiment and explore their own inspirations.
For many, the FVA program is their first step into the professional art world; for others, it is a chance to hone their skills and test out available options. Either way, students that enrol in the FVA program share in a golden opportunity to sharpen their skills as artists, build confidence in their craft, and form lasting connections within the College and throughout the art community.
Article by Meaghan Laaper, NBCCD Staff Writer