I was working full-time at an optometrist's office but really wanted to do something artistic with my life. Because I'd been out of school for so long, I wanted to test the waters, whether in drawing and painting, illustration or design work.
About four years ago, I took painting and integrated media courses at OCAD U and then, over two years part-time, I earned a certificate and was able to strengthen my artistic portfolio. Then I was accepted as a full-time integrated media student.
One thing I loved about continuing studies was that the professors cared about each individual student's needs. Everybody had different priorities: some were in design and wanted to hone their skills; others were painters and needed a website to showcase their work.
Because some of the classes met twice a week, I only had a day or two to complete assignments. That required a lot of time management because of my full-time job.
Now I'm going into my third year of integrated media and continue to work part-time at the optometrist's. There, I supervise everything: the dispensing area, helping with purchasing of glasses and contact lenses. I manage all the patients, train staff - I'm a jack of all trades. A little bit of I.T. as well. It's a small office, but busy.
My artwork is hybrid media. In high school my focus was music, so I incorporate that into my work a lot. Right now I'm interested in installations and creating immersive and interactive experiences.
Working with technology - when it works - is my favourite aspect of the program. With digital courses and integrated media you're always experimenting, and that allows you to develop with constantly changing technologies and ideas.
The best integrated media artists are those willing not to let perfectionism take hold. That was the hardest thing for me. In art, sometimes you think a mistake is a terrible, impossible moment you can't get over.
But once you take a step back and see how people are reacting to your work, you realize it's a blessing in disguise. I definitely wear a different hat when I go into the office - my perfectionist hat.