PEI

Visual artists invited to growing design conference on P.E.I.

A conference at Holland College in Charlottetown begun three years ago is expanding this year to include visual artists.

'We have such a large community of creatives on P.E.I.'

The Dotgain conference at Holland College is now in its third year and has expanded to include visual artists along with graphic designers, photographers and animators. (Jean-Sebastien Duchesne)

A conference at Holland College in Charlottetown begun three years ago is expanding this year to include visual artists.

The one-day conference, called Dotgain, takes place Friday at the Florence Simmons Performance Hall. It is now for all "creatives," including painters and sculptors as well as graphic designers, photographers and video game artists and animators.

"We have such a large community of creatives on P.E.I., and one of the things we have to look out for is for our industry people to have opportunities to have professional development," said organizer April Condon, an instructor in the graphic design program at Holland College. 

"The whole idea behind this was to make affordable professional development for our creative community." 

Holland College began teaching graphic arts — then called commercial design — 50 years ago under Henry Purdy, who is still an active local artist. He's been invited to speak at this year's conference.

The college's offerings have expanded over the years to include photography, video game art and animation, and fundamental arts.  

Debate will be entertaining

Everyone is invited to this year's conference including screen printers, web designers, sign makers, fine artists, photographers and more. 

Emily Cohen, a consultant who helps artists and designers with their business acumen, will speak at this Friday's Dotgain conference at Holland College. (Jason Varney)

The conference will be a good opportunity to network, Condon said.

"In any industry, we can get in our corners and not realize there's a whole group of other people facing the same challenges as we are," she said. "As a college, we're in a nice position to be able to provide support." 

The cost is $50 to participate in the full-day conference. That includes lunch, workshops and keynote addresses from two speakers. 

Condon is expecting between 150 and 200 people to attend, an increase over the past two years when it has attracted about 120 people. 

She said one big reason for the boost is that the non-profit group Creative P.E.I. (formerly Culture P.E.I.) has become a conference sponsor and will bring in comedian Patrick Ledwell to host a debate on the merits of formal versus informal arts education. There will also be a workshop on portfolio best practices.

Author and consultant Emily Cohen of New York will address the business challenges of artists working in a creative field. 

Chris Govias, the first-ever chief of design for the Canadian Digital Service, will talk about designing simple, easy-to-use services for federal departments and agencies. 

"Everybody needs to consume information from the government, and part of his challenge is how you successfully do that," Condon said.

The day will wrap up with conference delegates heading to the opening of the Confederation Centre's new slate of gallery shows in the evening.

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