CAMPUS CLUBS: Digital Art Club teaches transferable skills

Digital Art Club president, Jack McFadden-Finlayson (right) and executive, Noah Dumoulin. Photo credit: Melanie Lennon

When you think of an art club, creative projects, art supplies and dedicated members probably come to mind.

Ontario Tech Student Union’s Digital Art Club (DAC) has all of these things, except…maybe not in the way you may think.

The club, which meets at 5 p.m. every Wednesday in the Software and Informatics Research Centre (SIRC), has approximately 15-20 members. The group uses different software to create art.

Although they meet regularly, the club’s presence is primarily online rather than in person.

Jack McFadden-Finlayson, the president of DAC, and Noah Dumoulin, an executive, are both students in the four-year Game Development and Entrepreneurship program at Ontario Tech.

Dumoulin is in his last year of the program and his time with the club is nearing its end. McFadden-Finlayson, however, still has another year left.

He says DAC nominated him to be president after being a member for just one year.

“They made me president when I was in second year of my program. So, third year is my first year being president,” says McFadden-Finlayson. “The idea was that whatever mistakes I make this year, I’d be able to learn from and have my last year as president be better than the first.”

Each meeting typically follows a theme, according to Dumoulin. The topic of each week is meant to prepare members for what’s to come at the following meeting.

“I always go by the sort of thought process of what could I teach a younger, less experienced version of myself. That would have made life a lot easier,” Dumoulin says. “We also want to help amplify those who want to specifically be an artist by showing tools that would put them at a competitive edge.”

However, both Dumoulin and McFadden-Finlayson say getting members to attend their in-school sessions is not always easy. Whether it’s stress from class assignments, or the unwillingness to travel from the main campus across Conlin Road to the SIRC, the two are finding more members participate through their discord rather than in person.

In hopes of increasing their attendance, DAC regularly organizes contests, challenges and their end-of-year gallery.

Previous DAC members’ artwork displayed in room 4310 at Ontario Tech’s SIRC building.
Previous DAC members’ artwork displayed in room 4310 at Ontario Tech’s SIRC building. Photo credit: Melanie Lennon

Unfortunately, McFadden-Finlayson says the latter will not take place this year due to a “misstep in communication.”

As a replacement, DAC will have an end of the year contest for members to submit their work to the ‘best personality’ and ‘best style’ categories.

“The traditions of the Digital Art Club are very important…We’re not just going to call it a day and say, ‘oh well’,” Dumoulin says. “We still wanted it to be an end of the year thing to look forward to…that’s not going to be graded by a professor.”

They say a “good portion” of their annual budget goes towards funding prizes. In the past, awards for contests have included art supplies, like sketch pads and pens, as well as product keys for digital art software.

“We just want to make sure that we’re providing some quality tools to people because game development students, who are a bulk of our number, have the Adobe Suite for the four years that they’re in university. But the licence unfortunately expires at the end of that,” explains Dumoulin.

DAC doesn’t just want members to leave with access to software. Dumoulin says he wants students to learn valuable skills to use in the workplace, as well.

“Habits are very important, especially when you’re in university and you’re learning new skills and you’re learning how to get good at something,” he says.

Both officials want to see an increase in members next year. They believe DAC is a great place to explore artistic ability and meet students who share the same passion.

“Art is something that’s meant to be shared and shown to people, and to also engage with and participate with other people who are like-minded and also enjoy making [art],” says McFadden-Finlayson.