New Focus on Commercial Art

11 February 2016

New Focus on Commercial Art

Arts students at NorthTec are set to benefit from the skills and knowledge brought by two new staff members with broad commercial experience.

Digital arts tutor, Johannes van Staveren, has worked in the competitive world of video gaming and animation and brings a perspective based on the saleability of his work, while colleague Alysn Midgelow-Marsden is a textile artist with extensive experience of managing a self-funding gallery in the UK.

Both are passionate about their art and also share a philosophy that with good marketing and strong connections, the creative industries offer great opportunities to love your work, have fun and make a living too.

Johannes, from the Netherlands, fell in love with video games as a 12-year-old and decided he would be happiest pursuing a career working with like-minded people. While studying multimedia arts at university, he secured an internship at a company developing games for the Nintendo DS console, and after graduation he worked in the social sciences department of a large Dutch university before starting his own software company and working as a video game producer.

His “gamification” model of teaching will encourage his students to use social media to gain exposure for their work, allowing them to build up followers before they have even graduated.

Johannes will teach video game development, motion graphic design and interaction design. By teaching the principles behind each speciality, he hopes to send his students out into the world well equipped for employment in the industry. This year’s students will also have access to a suite of brand new iMacs.

He said: “The digital side of creative arts is a future growth industry. There are really good employment prospects and you can work anywhere in the world.”

Artist Alysn Midgelow-Marsden has taken on the new role of Creative Industries Education Co-ordinator, which combines the traditional task of curating NorthTec’s Geoff Wilson Gallery with helping students learn how to finance themselves through their art.

This will involve working directly with the students in a mentoring capacity and assisting them by creating industry connections through the gallery.

Alysn said: “The best degrees are those with a real industry focus. Students tend to focus so much on their artwork and their creative potential that they often don’t think about what they will do afterwards. There is a really broad spectrum of options open to them, but if they don’t hit the ground running when they finish their degree it can be really difficult to break into the industry – they may end up with a job which doesn’t reflect their degree or the effort they put into it.”

Her role will involve working with both students and tutors to co-ordinate the students’ approach to professional practice. This will include working in the gallery, having their work on sale in the gallery, securing work experience within the industry and developing links with the wider creative community in Northland, New Zealand and internationally.

Alysn spent 14 years running a private art gallery near Nottingham in the UK, which employed several people and helped support independent working artists. Before that she worked as an independent artist herself, working in textiles, in particular metal cloth. Her work was displayed at several large exhibitions and shows, and she has also had four books published.

Anyone wanting to enrol or find out more about NorthTec arts programmes should call 0800 162 100 or visit

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