First year IDEA student, Annika McFarlane, reflects on her first term in a 4 year art school degree program

First year IDEA student, Annika McFarlane, reflects on her first term in a 4 year art school degree program

by Annika McFarlane (IDEA22)

Self portrait with instructor and art director, Jay Bassan

When we got the assignment from instructor Jay Bassan, art director at Atomic Eye Design in Vancouver, to do a self-portrait (shown above), with the encouragement to be as creative as we liked, I knew I wanted to photograph myself without actually having any part of me in it. Thinking of what to do I had the idea to create myself out of the objects that I own.

I was interested in investigating how we use objects to define ourselves and express who we are. For instance, it’s easy to recognize our friends and family walking down the street based on what they wear and the things that they carry with them. Whether we like it or not, the objects that we own speak volumes about who we are and the lives we lead.

Rolling with this concept, I created myself out of some of my most iconic pieces of clothing, and surrounded myself with pieces of the places that I often found myself in. My hope was that the people who know me would be able to identify the portrait as me, solely based on those objects and the context I created for myself.

I’m an outdoorsy lover of nature, so that is the main facet of myself I was trying to communicate. It’s hard to tell from the image, but my face is actually created out of chocolate that I piped onto tracing paper as an ode to my love of desserts and all things sugary.

It took a while to nail the composition and I actually started out with an arrangement that was a lot different and quite frankly, horrible. In total, it took me about 5 hours to collect all of the objects, arrange them and shoot the portrait. The majority of that time was spent arranging and rearranging the composition. It was a challenging but fun project.

Science Design Spread, Annika McFarlane (IDEA22)   This is a spread about space discoveries for our design history class. It features three scientists who made big discoveries in their day. The spread shares the research I did as part of a team on each scientist. It was done in gouache, ink and white gel pen.

Science Design Spread, Annika McFarlane (IDEA22)

This is a spread about space discoveries for our design history class. It features three scientists who made big discoveries in their day. The spread shares the research I did as part of a team on each scientist. It was done in gouache, ink and white gel pen.

Reflecting on the first term at IDEA School of Design

I’ve just started my second term in my first year at Capilano University’s IDEA School of Design and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be in this program. Since everything was in traditional media last term, which I don’t have a lot of experience with, it has been pretty challenging so far and has really pushed me out of my comfort zone.

I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with not being the best in the class at anything, but I am also constantly inspired by the work of my classmates. Even though there are a lot of new things for me, it has been such a pleasure to try my hand at all of the different mediums; I’ve learned a lot about which ones I want to continue working with in the future and I can already see my improvement from projects done in the first weeks til now. It’s pretty rewarding to see how much I’ve grown in these past couple months, and it makes me super excited to keep being challenged in the coming years.

Black and White Charcoal Self-Portrait, Annika McFarlane (IDEA22)   This was an assignment for our life drawing class where we had to do a self-portrait without using photo reference, meaning we could only use a mirror. I chose to use hard light to emphasize the shadows, giving the left side of my face a lost edge.

Black and White Charcoal Self-Portrait, Annika McFarlane (IDEA22)

This was an assignment for our life drawing class where we had to do a self-portrait without using photo reference, meaning we could only use a mirror. I chose to use hard light to emphasize the shadows, giving the left side of my face a lost edge.

Besides the work, I can’t leave out the people that I work alongside every day. There are so many phenomenal people in my cohort; they are talented, hard working and all around great people. Getting to show up to class every day with people who are just as excited about learning and improving as I am is sweet as can be.

I’ve learned a lot from my classmates; from helping me with traditional media techniques to helping me brainstorm as well as  always providing me with an honest dose of constructive criticism; their support and enthusiasm is boundless. I think it’s in large part because of them that I feel I have improved as much as I have so far.

As someone who spent a number of years studying all sorts of academic things at other universities, I could not be more stoked to be spending the next 4 years at IDEA. There hasn’t been a single day that feels like the ‘school’ I’m so used to; it is absolute bliss for me. I’m so grateful to be in an environment that pushes me to be better every day. I can’t imagine being anywhere else to learn and grow creatively, it is seriously such an honour to show up every day at IDEA.

Oil Portrait, Annika McFarlane (IDEA22)   This is an oil portrait of my sister for our illustration class. This was the first oil painting I've ever done and it took a while for me to start understanding the medium. Through the painting process I learned that oil paints may be one of my favourite traditional mediums.

Oil Portrait, Annika McFarlane (IDEA22)

This is an oil portrait of my sister for our illustration class. This was the first oil painting I've ever done and it took a while for me to start understanding the medium. Through the painting process I learned that oil paints may be one of my favourite traditional mediums.

I've been reading a lot of the IDEA School of Design blog posts recently and find the parts where alumni share their advice to current students very useful!

IDEA students won 14/50 Advertising & Design Club of Canada (ADCC) Student Awards

IDEA students won 14/50 Advertising & Design Club of Canada (ADCC) Student Awards

Vivay Li—Graphic designer at Phoenix Labs, the creators of the Dauntless video game

Vivay Li—Graphic designer at Phoenix Labs, the creators of the Dauntless video game