Laura Cannon has always been an artist, and studying the Bachelor of Creative Media has allowed her to take her skills to new heights.
"For as long as I can remember, I have painted and drawn. Growing up, if I wasn't playing piano or riding horses, I was head down in a sketchbook," says Laura.
Laura left her job after the COVID-19 lockdown in early 2020 and was looking for something new. A friend suggested she try the New Zealand Certificate in Arts and Design at UCOL Te Pūkenga. Laura excelled in the programme and the lecturers encouraged her to enrol in the Bachelor of Creative Media. It was an easy decision for Laura, as she had loved her time at UCOL Te Pūkenga so far.
"The relationship you have with your lecturers at UCOL is so much closer than you would have at university, where you could have 150 students in your class. Here there was 16 or 17 of us doing the degree together. Those relationships are really important and the creative media team works hard to build those relationships with their students."
"The BCM lecturers are phenomenal in what they do and are really what makes the degree - while I did work hard, a big reason why I've got to where I am is because of the strong and consistent support and care they gave me."
A big thing that attracted Laura to the Bachelor of Creative Media, was the opportunity to work with clients through the Workhub. The UCOL Te Pūkenga Workhub connects learners with local businesses and organisations in their industry, so they can develop their skills in a real work environment.
One of Laura's favourite industry projects was an adoption poster she designed for the SPCA. She used watercolour paint and coloured pencils to create a lifelike images of cats and dogs.
Laura loves working with coloured pencils because of the level of detail and realism she can achieve with them. Another piece she is particularly proud of is her kereru illustration. Laura used three to four layers of pencil on each part of the illustration, and applied a mineral spirit to blend the layers together.
"I used next to no black. I used blues and browns which provides more deep layering and shadowing, whereas black is very flat and final," says Laura.
Another highlight project for Laura was a chalk art piece she and classmate Dearna Schofield drew for the opening of the Workhub. The piece depicted a sun shining from the Workhub entrance across the footpath. Laura says working on such a large piece meant she had to approach it in a different way than she normally would.
"The biggest thing is understanding the time and effort that goes into something like this. You have to be really well organised and approach it with different ways of thinking – for example, we used a long piece of string to help draw our straight lies and make the semi-circle shape, instead of using a ruler and compass"
"We couldn't include the kind of fine details we would in a typical illustration, because it would have taken too long. I came up with a design that had a lot of big block colours, and we found out the quickest and easiest way to do it was to use gloves to rub the chalk around, as you would with charcoal."
During the final year of her degree, Laura interned at Square Edge Arts Centre, where she helped organise Art Trail Manawatū 2022. Laura did such a great job that she was kept on in a part-time role to work on other projects, such as revamping Square Edge's website.
"This was by far my favourite part of UCOL/Workhub — being immersed in a working creative environment, learning new skills, and interacting with industry creatives. The team at Square Edge are the most amazing people too in terms of welcoming me into their space and working with me to build up my skills and experience. They helped give me the confidence to transition out of study and into a working environment. I will forever treasure my time there and loved working with them. It also helped prepare me for my new full-time role".
In early 2023 Laura started working as a graphic designer/marketer at Pivot Design in Feilding.
Laura encourages Bachelor of Creative Media students to jump at industry projects and internships that come their way.
"A big part of this degree is not being afraid to say yes to opportunities. Even if it's not exactly what you want to do in the future, it's still experience that you can learn and build your skills from. If you walk in with an open mind and a desire to learn, you never know where these opportunities may lead."