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"I went to Whangarei Girls High School, and in my last year of school I signed up to NorthTec’s Art Academy.
"NorthTec’s Art Academy opened me up to so much more than just painting and drawing, which was what I learnt in high school. I was introduced to different mediums and artists, even worked in the Art Gallery. It made me curious about other art industries. It helped me to started finding myself more as an artist, it made me love art more.
"Training at NorthTec helped me get into the career I am in today by helping me put together a portfolio of all my best works and I got to network with other artists. It helped to define myself as an artist.
"I love working as a tattoo artist. I like having artistic freedom with my work and giving customers and clients an original work - and seeing a lot of myself on people!
"My advice for high school students unsure of what they want to would be to do something you love to do – but also think about your future."
It’s great being able to do what you love and get a degree out of it. I want to be an art teacher and this...
“I have a friend who suffers from depression. She painted to express herself and I used to go around and paint with her. I loved it and I could see how much better she felt through the painting process. I also worked at a primary school helping kids with disabilities to form alphabet letters.”
“I had friends at NorthTec and seeing their social media posts made me want to go into art teaching, so I came on board this course. I love that the tutors are really laid back but still give us lots of guidance and info. They are more like friends, and they make allowances if you’re sick or need to catch-up. Everyone here supports each other. The students are great but when I’m around people I get along with, I tend to talk - so I like to take my work home to do it.”
“The stand-out of the course for me is simply creating and what comes out of us. We cover general core subjects but my chosen option here is print-making. At some point we had to paint a self-portrait, and I can’t paint, let alone do a self-portrait. But I did it - and I was really happy with the result.”
“It’s great being able to do what you love and get a degree out of it. I want to be an art teacher and this qualification will give me a lot more options for the scope and context of that. After the degree, I want to do a post-grad diploma in teaching and I’ll see what unfolds from there.”
I came here to broaden my creativity. It’s so hands-on here at NorthTec, you create your own stuff all the time...
Budding artist Brody Laurenson was able to sign up for a degree programme after successfully completing the level 4 certificate in arts and design.
The six-month programme, which was launched at NorthTec in 2017, gave him both the skills and the confidence to go on to the degree. The certificate programme can be a stepping stone for people who want to gain a good grounding in the arts, or test out their creativity before committing to three years of study.
Brody, 23, who is now studying for the Bachelor of Applied Arts, is aiming to realise his dream of becoming a comic-book writer and creator.
He said: “The comic industry usually has an author and a computer artist as well. I want to create comic book stories but I don’t just want to draw them, I want to do the computer artwork as well.”
Brody is from Whangarei but spent nine years living in Canada, where his parents live and where he went to high school. He looked into studying at tertiary level in Canada, but found the cost was prohibitive.
He was not ready to go straight onto a degree programme, but having completed the New Zealand Certificate in Arts and Design, at NCEA level 4, was able to qualify to study at bachelor’s level.
Brody said: “I came here to broaden my creativity. It’s so hands-on here at NorthTec, you create your own stuff all the time. There is a lot more support here than at uni, where it’s more competition-based. Everybody is really supportive, and if you struggle with something they will help you.
“The teachers really help you even if you think you can’t get it done. The staff help you and support you the whole time, there is a lot of one-on-one learning and all the students help each other too. I’m confident about doing the degree now because I’ve done the certificate, and it has made me a lot stronger.”
“I believe this programme is teaching me things that are beneficial to my future career. This is getting me ready for...
“This programme has a lot of variety and options to explore and mix and match, and I really like that we do both...
“I had done art most of my life but because I was told it’s hard to make money out of it, I explored graphics and maths at school. Then in year 13, I got a chance to participate in the Arts Trades Academy through school and NorthTec where I would come on campus every Friday and that lit my fire. I also got the top creative arts prize at school that year.”
“This programme has a lot of variety and options to explore and mix and match, and I really like that we do both practical and theory because not many art courses include practical any more. The content is engaging so you want to apply yourself but there’s a lot of it so I’m learning to be better organised. Last year I was fairly flexible in how I studied, but this year I’ve made a calendar schedule and improved my time management.”
“I’ve been surprised at how many applied arts career options there are and how many people have a creative career. My horizons are wider now and I realise that mostly everything in life has a creative component. It’s also cool bouncing ideas off the other students and getting their feedback.”
“I’m already thinking about what my career path might be and at the moment I’m looking at photography and design. I helped with some photoshoots for events and have created some business cards. My cousin got honours doing this course recently and he has now got a good job in Auckland, so I’m open to moving outside Northland to check out work options. Our family moved here from South Africa in my primary school years so I realise that it’s possible and necessary sometimes to completely shift your life to make it work.”
“My dream at the moment is to become a photographer – maybe combined with something else - to have a studio and nice house on some land. If anyone out there is struggling with what to do in the arts, this is a great programme to open up your options.”
“I’m now getting to create what’s in my head, out into reality. I’m so keen that I’ve filled a whole sketch book with...
“I didn’t want to continue with my old job that I’d had for a few years, then when I had a back injury at work it became even clearer that it was time for a change. I couldn’t do the physical work anymore and during my recovery time I looked at my choices. I’m always drawing so my partner encouraged me to apply last minute to this course that was about to begin.”
“I’m now getting to create what’s in my head, out into reality. I’m so keen that I’ve filled a whole sketch book with my own work in addition to the course work, and people are even offering to buy some of the pages. I’m also opening up to heaps of new ideas from our art history study and I realise how much more there is to learn. It’s feeding me.”
“Our classmates also all have their own way of thinking and their own culture, so we all give each other feedback and its cool seeing other’s perspectives and art. A lot of my work is Māori-focused, however one girl in our class is French so I can start to see how other people think.”
“I was very nervous when I first came here because everything was new and I wasn’t a good student at school, but this environment is more relaxed than I expected so I’d encourage anyone thinking about studying to give it a try.”
“I’m keen to do well in this level 4 course, then I might go on to the Bachelor of Applied Arts, but I want to keep my options open for a while and continue to explore what’s out there.”
“My dream is to be a tattoo artist. I’m already doing it but I want to get internationally known. This feels like the first step in a bigger change in my life.”
I majored in photography but in my last year at NorthTec my body of work was looking at how women are perceived in...
Working with flowers isn’t what Jacinta imagined she would be doing when she studied for her visual arts degree. “I majored in photography but in my last year at NorthTec my body of work was looking at how women are perceived in art. Flowers are often used as symbols of women, and that seeded my interest in flowers.”
“I loved the idea of somehow working with flowers so I went and saw Megan Dickinson at her gallery because she previously had a floral design school. She validated and encouraged the connection between working with flowers and creativity so when I finished my degree, I sent an email to the awarding winning Whangarei business, Mint Floral. The owners, Jasmine and Bryce, suggested I come in for a chat then they gave me a work trial.”
Jacinta now works as a full-time trainee florist at Mint Floral and loves it. “I get on-the-job training plus I’m putting myself through an online course at the same time. I realise that visual arts study is directly relevant to working as a florist. In studying creativity we learn about balance, shape, texture, proportion, colour, design and composition – all of which I’m dealing with every day in my hands-on work.”
She also loves the challenge of providing what the customer wants. “Gifting flowers is usually for something very personal. I like to understand what someone else wants, give it to them, and see them happy with the result. My biggest growth has been learning to do things for other people rather than the self-focus that comes with some other forms of creativity. If the customer is vague I enjoy helping them get clear, and we’re a small enough business that one guy came in and actually physically helped create a bouquet for his father’s funeral.”
“One day I’d like to own a florist business but for now I’m really enjoying working in this new-generation fresh florist environment with our vibrant team and learning about the amazing variety of available flowers.”
My degree has already landed me a good job in digital arts in Auckland - and a surprise award at graduation.
“My degree has already landed me a good job in digital arts in Auckland - and a surprise award at graduation.” Joshua won the NorthTec Council Art Award which included a cheque for $1000. “It was a complete surprise to me but it may be because I put in a lot of effort and filled up about eight books with drawings, theory and coding. I’m passionate about digital arts.”
“I always loved the arts and knew I wanted to get a degree. I’m originally from South Africa, and now live just up the road from NorthTec so studying here was perfect for me. As well as covering the basics, we could do what we were interested in so I created a video game. It seemed like a good opportunity to research digital arts and apply the skills to making a video game. ”
“Our tutors were amazing. They gave us one-to-one attention and were really friendly while still keeping stern standards around our work and self-discipline.”
Joshua is now working as a graphic designer with an Auckland company and the job came about from a chance encounter. “While I was studying I was working as a supervisor at a Whangarei supermarket. They needed me on check-outs one day, and my now boss happened to come through as a customer and we had a quick chat. He learnt what I was studying, gave me his card, and later made contact and offered me work in Auckland.”
“I already intended to move to Auckland to be with friends and to study for a master’s degree, and I’m loving the work here. The NorthTec tutors have given me the exact skills that I am applying here in Auckland and could use anywhere in the country or further afield. Ultimately I want to be a creative director in a media or film company. I want to be right up there at CEO level.”
“The Applied Arts degree at NorthTec is great, it gives you the ability to maximize your imagination and creativity...
“Then just over three years ago, some people from NorthTec, which has a partnership with our school in China, visited our school and offered us an opportunity to study in New Zealand with the chance of graduating with a degree. I decided to make the most of that opportunity.”
“I wasn’t a hardworking student in China, but when I was accepted for NorthTec, I decided to study hard really hard - for myself, my parents, and my grandfather. I wasn’t sure I could make it, but three years later I stood on the stage at graduation and was surprised and honoured to have been selected to give the Valediction speech.”
“Our tutors also helped us network with industry and I was able to get freelance work with some local video production and TV companies so I’ve gained amazing experiences and some excellent skills in camera operating and editing.
I’m a lot more confident now and my English has improved a massive amount in the time I’ve been in New Zealand. Thank you NorthTec for this fantastic opportunity and support.”
“Grandpa, I want to tell you this. I have completed my degree and graduated. Your grandson has made it. I didn’t let you down."
I previously have tended to keep to myself but here everyone is so different and friendly, and as an artist I found...
“I decided to do my degree at NorthTec because when it came to choosing a country to study in from India, the best options were New Zealand or Italy. I didn’t want to learn another language so I chose New Zealand, and of all the places I applied to, NorthTec was the first to respond. It’s been a great choice.”
“I was always into art and my grandfather says I started drawing at three, but I never really thought of a career in art because I was into science. In the boarding school I went to in India we did Cambridge exams and my Dad encouraged me to take art as an option and to go on at study art at uni.”
“What I loved most about the NorthTec course were the really cool people I met and became close to. Because I’ve moved around a lot in my life, I previously have tended to keep to myself but here everyone is so different and friendly, and as an artist I found that nourishing and inspiring. Māori culture was new and exciting to me too and I’ve learnt to understand a bit more about that now.”
“Photography has become a surprise focus for me and I’ve learned that I’m good at it. In my final year, my photography progressed into doing a video immersive installation and I loved it. The workload in that last year though was quite stressful, and then to add to it, I broke my elbow. It was overwhelming but friends got me through it – including driving me around.”
“Now that I have graduated, I am doing a Gallery Study course while working as an assistant at the Geoff Wilson Gallery at NorthTec, and I’m doing some freelance photographic work out in the community as well. One day I’d love to own a gallery/studio that includes graphic design and photography, but for now I’ll see where this course takes me.”