“I love art. I love to draw and paint and do crafts. But I need a job. I need to decide a direction for my life. I want to continue with my art, but can I also find a career that pays my bills?” These were the thoughts that plagued Sara Paine when the time came for her to choose a university to attend after graduating in the spring of 1999 from Woodstock High School in Woodstock, N.B.
“I am an 'artsy-fartsy' person,” she says. “I would much rather sit in my room and draw for hours than work on math calculations.” Finally, Paine decided to study for a bachelor of design, with a major in graphic design, at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in Halifax, N.S. The 19-year-old is now in the middle of her second year.
Her father Rick studied art and design at Central Tech in Toronto and is now working for the N.S. government as a design consultant. “I am sort of following in my father's footsteps,” Paine says. “When I was growing up, I found my dad's work interesting. He encouraged me to study graphic design.” Since her father lives in Halifax, Paine figured she could go to a great art school and live at home with her father. Good deal. But, that's not all that influenced her decision. “All of my art teachers since junior high gush about the school,” she says. “It just seemed like the right place to start.”
Entrance to the school is limited and based on a portfolio featuring the artist’s best work. Everyone was really nervous the first day of classes, wondering what the other students were going to be like. “I really don't know what I was expecting,” Paine says. “I guess more of a social atmosphere, with kids right out of high school like me.”
What she found was that the majority of students already had degrees. The atmosphere was much more mature and took a little getting used to. A lot of this had to do with the fact that they are all off-campus students. “I guess I feel like I missed out on the experience of the typical first year of university,” says Paine. “There’s not a lot of school spirit because everyone is there to learn... the end.” Though NSCAD focuses on training more than just academics, Paine feels that the school still fosters the “artsy” atmosphere. Her classes are scattered in a maze inside the beautiful historic buildings of downtown Halifax.
Paine's favourite courses last year were her studio classes. “We would sit for five hours straight just working on our paintings, drawings or sculptures. Every kind is taken very seriously here and not looked at as simply a hobby or pastime.”
Paine remembers the time one of her paintings was set in front of 30 or so people. “I didn't think that the critiques of my artwork were going to be so harsh,” she recalls, ““They picked it apart. They asked