By Sherif Badr and Amanda DelaCruz

The amazingly creative artists mentioned here struck a chord with us for whatever reason - they were clever, unique,  evocative or just thought outside the box. But they were the ones we kept wanting to come back to on our two days at OCAD University's 100th Grad Exhibition, flooded with noise and mugs and shirts designed by award-winning illustrator Gary Taxali. OCADU alumna Amanda DelaCruz came along for the ride. We laughed, we were enamored and sometimes things got awkward...


1. "Amoral"

by Erik J Hayes / ILLUSTRATION

SB: With each piece in Amoral you get a beautiful illustration plus a lesser known historical tidbit about the other sides of these otherwise murderous individuals we know so well. This series appeals to the misunderstood rebel within, and makes it clear that nobody's really all good or evil.

AD: Illustration is my absolute favourite department to visit every year I go to the grad show. Every artist has such a distinct style and I know the professors are particularly hard on them to create a striking, well developed body of work. Erik had an interesting concept of really showing how there are hidden sides to history that tend to be overlooked. 

2.Offline Survival Guide (OSA)

by Matthew Flute  / Graphic Design

SB: Matthew takes a look at how social media has changed us, and then unplugs it from the equation altogether. How will you survive offline without that constant feedback from others? Admit it, you love the interaction. Try a "listen to me" or "friend me" button!

AD: I love how Matthew actually created a product line to help people survive offline. The packaging, the pamphlets, the buttons - upon closer inspection it became obvious how clever his thesis work really is. He even had a small, harmonica sized, metal-stringed instrument that he boxed and labelled as a "portable music player." That was one that actually made me Laugh Out Loud :)

3. Socialites

By Chris Nzekio / Graphic Design

SB: Chris is another artist interested in social media and its effects on us - he just puts his thoughts into hilarious cartoons rather than Facebook rants. There's also something to be said when an artist is always at his booth to engage with his audience, and in a spiffy suit no less. 

AD: It's true, Chris was there both times we came by, something that I find is becoming less and less common at this show. When I had my grad show, I was there every second I could be - it still seems weird to me when I come across an empty booth. Chris had a great video looping his digital drawing process - he made it look so effortless and natural. 

4."Dragon Lady"

by Aurora Judge / Sculpture and Illustration

SB: There are few things that get me giddy and one of them is definitely well crafted armor. If you had a childhood your initial reaction is likely "Can I try that on?" "If not, how will I ever ride my dragons?" #GameOfThrones

AD: The detail in Aurora's work is crazy, it's almost as if she had a dragon specimen to base her work off of. I was very impressed but even more disappointed because these beautiful pieces were behind glass and my fingers were itching to feel their textures. 

5. "Sympathy for the Devil"

By Heidi Berton / ILLUSTRATION

SB: This one is definitely 'out there.' Heidi's thesis reads thus: "In 1971, a man named Gerald Mayo filed a lawsuit against Satan. Imagining a world where this is common legal practice, Sympathy for the Devil illustrates how these unwarranted legal fees would affect Hell." People have to escort themselves into hell, the devil seems to have a lack of staff and unlimited errands to run, and the inhabitants are generally not liking the cut-backs. Smile.

AD: Heidi's concept is so unique and so clever. I came back to her booth like 6 times to look at some other detail I had missed the previous time I went by. I found it particularly funny that the Devil felt he had to turn his thermostat down to save money on heating. 

6."Saintly Behaviour"

By Sophie Paas-Lang / Illustration

SB: I was attracted to this series for its style and what I thought it was about; coping with being under scrutiny. It turns out that Sophie was exploring contemporary female issues in light of female saints throughout history. Art is about what you take away though right?

AD: The first image here is so bang on, I know people can definitely relate to that feeling. 


7."Minimal Memory"

By Jacklyn Bonsignore / Graphic Design 

SB: Jacklyn's game engages you as soon as you see her slides. One automatically starts to see characters in her assembled blocks of colour. Do you recognize any of these characters from TV or video games? I could totally see this one in boardgame cafe's across Toronto.

AD: Jacklyn's has taken minimalism to a new level. You know an image is iconic when you can still recognize it even though it's been distilled to basic geometric shapes and colour. I'm pretty sure I would be awesome at this game.


By Samantha Sotiria Virginillo/ Material Art and Design 

SB: Samantha hammers her copper hearts and then fits the pieces together through gears to create moving sculptures - they're battery powered and awesome. Her thesis looks into how corporate the medical industry has become.  

AD: I majored in Jewellery and Metalsmithing when I went to OCAD and none of my copper bowls could compare to this crazy bionic heart. I could really appreciate her work because I know how hard it is to create organic shapes in metal. People probably don't know, but this would have started out as a flat sheet of metal that she would have had to hammer into shape. Even if she didn't have it battery powered I would have still been impressed. 


9.The Secret Lives of Plants/ Illustration

By Paige Clark / Illustration

SB: I have to admit, this wasn't really up my alley at first. Then, the playfulness of the topic and style began to stand out, especially in contrast to some of the more serious and perhaps overly complicated themes this year. 

AD: This looks like it could be the start of some animated series. All these plants are up to some serious hijinks that would be interesting to watch unfold. 

10."We have lost the art of patience"

By Inji Nadeem / Graphic Design

SB: In our day and age when we can view anything we want literally instantly and get most material things we want in a short period of time, patience is a hard thing to have. Inji takes images that could be digitally created in a matter of minutes and embroiders them over long hours. Statement received.

AD: The idea behind Inji's work really speaks to me. I have a deep appreciation for the handmade, especially the tedious, laborious kind. Even though I use CAD/CAM daily in my own career, there is always something so beautiful to me about the time invested in a piece and what that says about the artist. 


By Alexia Lim / graphic design

SB: Alexia brings the goods with Nüfüd. Her project takes a look at the processed crap in our food and takes it to the extreme where just the additives, preservatives and synthetics are left; it's not food, it's Nüfüd! Literally the stuff of your favorite dystopian (Brave New World comes to mind). Alexia enhanced her display with a short mockumentary video as well.

AD: Alexia's video and display was great. She even painted a friend in a magenta tone and had her give a confessional about her addiction to Nüfüand how she was learning new things every day like how you can actually grow vegetables instead of manufacturing them with chemicals. I loved the bright pops of colour and the propaganda type feel. When her video was playing there was always a crowd around her booth, you couldn't look away.  


By Gabriel Altrows

SB: Bright colours, wild imagery and raw painting talent; Gabriel Altrows brought us back to our interview with Taka Sudo at #Hashtag gallery

13. "A Hole in the Bucket"

By Deshi Deng / Illustration

SB: This is all about how disappointing some of the most anticipated events in your life can be. The image of everyone taking selfies while on what should be a spiritual journey hits home.

AD: The fact that the sculpture was even taking pictures was what stuck out to me more. But the illustration of the beautiful boat ride that really becomes all about the bug bites is one I have personally experienced. There's good and there's bad but Deshi's work is all good!

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