Image arts students apply their talents to victory

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By Jesse McLean

When Katie Dawn started her science degree at the University of Lethbridge, the windblown trees of southern Alberta were the last things on her mind.

Now, two images from the recent Ryerson grad’s Square Trees series are featured in the September issue of Applied Arts, one of Canada’s premier photography magazines.

“Having your pieces published by such a wide-read magazine is huge for a student,” she said. “It really makes you realize that you can compete (with professionals).”

Vermast, along with fourth-year Image Arts students Danielle De Paulos, James Kachan and Lindsay Murrell won a spot in the 50-page Student Awards section featuring students from around the world.

“A lot of creative professionals are looking for something fresh and they will turn to Applied Arts student work for that,” said Natalie Szpiro, promotions director of Applied Arts. It also gives the student a grasp of where they stand within the industry and what is to be expected once they graduate.

The student category was first introduced in 1998 but this year marks the first time the issue is all student work.

“Students are our future,” said Szpiro. “We hope that they will be the ones we write about some day, and these individuals are what keeps the industry alive and going, like a cycle.”

But the award-winning students stress that a successful future involves being aware of your opportunities.

“You get so many free tickets as a student. But once you leave, it’s so much harder to get exposure,” said Murrell, whose submission depicts a woman standing in the mouth of a forest from her Everywhere We Go series.

“There were a couple (of opportunities at school) that I missed last year, then seeing them come out, I just thought, ‘crap, I wish I had done that,’” Murrell said.

De Paulos also urges students to apply to contests, regardless of self-judgment. The issue contained three photos of her grandparents holding framed portraits of themselves as part of her Golden Years collection.

“It builds confidence and networking and by the time you hit fourth year, being rejected is OK because it just makes you work harder.”

Both students have been contacted by professionals interested in their prints. Murrell was even e-mailed by the photo editor of the Globe and Mail’s Report on Small Business. There’s also a publishing source on campus, explains Kachan, the managing director of the student-produced Function magazine. Pieces from both his Anxiety + Calm and Chasing Nightmares series were included in the Student Awards issue.

“The calibre of work that comes out of this school is really phenomenal,” he said. “And Function, as well as contests like the Applied Arts one, is a great vehicle to show that.”

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