SapientNitro: Norma Penner and Brad Huffman


Speakers: Norma Penner and Brad Huffman
September 27, 2013

Today we heard from SapientNitro. Brad Huffman, who graduated from Sheridan just last year, and Norma Penner were the speakers.
SapientNitro is a large international company with over 10,000 employees in 35 offices around the world. Lucky for us Toronto is their biggest office with over 300 employees.

SapientNitro is a design and advertising firm that strictly works digitally. They are proof that the future of A and D will be 100% digital. But technology alone is not enough. They are dedicated to  combining innovation with technology to create highly relevant content. But most important – they do that by listening to their clients. SapientNitro does not impose their ideas on their clients but rather listens to what their client needs and guides them toward the solution for their problems. The human to human interaction trumps the digital to digital communication. And that is why they are successful – because they understand the important balance between the human need and the digital need.

Brad and Norma stressed, above all, the importance of hard work combined with great design skills and careful listening skills to achieve greatness. Success follows passion.

Thank you Norma Penner and Brad Huffman for your comments, they are very insightful.

LinkedIn Page: Norma Penner

LinkedIn Page: Brad Huffman

Company: SapientNitro

Ai Weiwei: According To What?

Ai Weiwei: According To What?


It was a privilege to see Ai Weiwei’s exhibition at the AGO this fall. Ai Weiwei is one of China’s most famous, most provocative and most political contemporary artists. His work reflects the vastness and the isolation of China. Once celebrated by the Chinese government he is now a prisoner in his own country because of his advocacy of human rights, especially children’s. Through his art he has made the world aware of these issues. The messages he conveys  are clear and immediately apparent in sculptures of the finest craftsmanship and ingenuity.

Much of Ai Weiwei’s criticism of the Chinese Government is a result of the 2008 Sichaun earthquakes that killed 5,200 children when their shoddily built schools collapsed. A photograph from one of these schools showing backpacks among the rubble was the inspiration for Snake Ceiling, 2009. Ordinary backpacks of varying sizes, to represent children of all ages, are formed into a snake and hung from the ceiling as a memorial to the dead children. Another sculpture, Wenchaun Steel Rebar, 2008 – 2012 uses rebar recovered from the collapsed schools. Many craftspeople painstakingly straightened the rebar. The straightened rods are laid out in straight lines with a massive fissure snaking down the middle. This is also a very evocative piece and it’s purpose is to preserve the memory of the horrible tragedy and the needless deaths of the children.

There is a very interesting book published in conjunction with the exhibition available at the AGO store and is, surprisingly, very affordable.

Queen West Art Crawl


Trinity Bellwood Park
September 21/22, 2013

The Queen West Art Crawl is an annual two-day juried outdoor art exhibition held at the lovely Trinity Bellwoods Park in the exciting, diverse Queen West neighbourhood of Toronto. As well as 250+ exhibitors/vendors there is an entertainment stage, children’s activities and food vendors.

I’ve always enjoyed this event as a visitor and this year I was accepted as an exhibitor and was pretty excited about this new role. I chose to show my silkscreened figural prints and edition resin prints of my cupcake paintings.

Unfortunately, on the day my excitement soon turned to downright drudgery. The weather was most uncooperative. The eve of the event was marked by a continuous downpour. We arrived early Saturday morning and erected the tent in a sea of mud next to a pathway which had transformed into a mini lake. But we persevered and five hours later we were done and took time for a much needed breakfast. I was surprised at the number of visitors who came out that day. Safely traversing the mini lake with strollers and dogs was not easy and my tent became invisible in the snarl of stroller traffic. But my spirits got a lift by mid afternoon when we discovered the best fish tacos ever at the Food Dudes food truck.

The rain stopped during the evening and I looked forward to a better day on Sunday but my mini lake had not abated so I was still an unreachable island. Things improved in the afternoon and I got lots of positive feedback and even sold a few items.
Even though the conditions were miserable everyone stayed upbeat and made the best of the situation. My mom bought me a Tardis sock monkey and another couple of trips to the Food Dudes and I was pretty happy.

Will I do it again? A month ago I said no way but as time goes by I am forgetting the bad parts and remembering the good so come out next year and visit me at the Queen West Art Crawl.

Mosaic: Stephen Coomber and Courtney Verk


Speaker: Courtney Verk and Stephen Coomber
September 20, 2013

Our second visiting speakers came to us from Mosaic.  Mosaic is an experiential marketing company which is essentially a company that relies on the human experience but conveys the message through multi media. We heard from Stephen Coomber and Courtney Verk both graduates  of the Sheridan Web Design program.

They stressed the importance of controlling your own destiny right from the start. Never feel controlled. Always look for the angle that works for you – don’t accept what doesn’t work and keep asking questions until you arrive at what is the right fit for you. Of course hard work was stressed but through hard work may come the realization that you want to pursue a different  area. Courtney used herself as a perfect example. She started her career managing projects  and ended up as a full time writer as she discovered this was her vocation. Stephen understands that working with other people – he manages 12 – requires a sense of humour and humility. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Their talk concentrated on people skills. Of course digital expertise, design quality and great ideas are the function of the company but the backbone of the company seems to be their human development skills overall.

Thank you Courtney Verk and Stephen Coomber for sharing the dynamics of your company.

LinkedIn Page: Courtney Verk

LinkedIn Page: Stephen Coomber

Company: Mosaic

LinkedIn: Sharnaz Pavri



Speaker: Courtney Verk and Stephen Coomber
September 20, 2013
It was great to have a Sheridan alumnus and a graduate of our program, as our first guest speaker. Her enthusiasm and positivity about the program and it’s potential for employment was a great motivator as we enter the new world of Web Design.

Sharnaz Pavri spoke from her office in Silicon Valley via Skye and hopes to visit us in person at the end of the school year. Sharnaz currently works at LinkedIn managing the design team called Horizontal Team. Her job entails creating a uniform experience across all platforms of LinkedIn. A typical day for Sharnaz involves lots of meetings, a lot of project management, design and development. The goal is creating a good user experience

Prior to joining LinkedIn Sharnaz worked at Apple in the new product launch department, she worked in a War Room where everything was top secret. The hours were long but it was an exciting place to be. She joined LinkedIn during a period of rapid growth where the company went public. She enjoys the collaborative culture at the company.

Sharnaz had some pointers to help us establish a presence in this field:
Online presence
Creating good work relationships
Networking and making connections.

Thank you Sharnaz for taking the time to share your experiences with us.

LinkedIn Page: Sharnaz Pavri

Company: LinkedIn



I am taking a graduate course in Web Design at Sheridan College in Oakville. This one-year intensive program has twenty four motivated students . Some of us are recent University graduates acquiring marketable skills, others already have a career in design and are upgrading their digital skills. At the end of the year we will have the accomplishments and training to enter the web design, advertising, marketing and e-commerce industries.

As part of our course we have the opportunity to speak to industry professionals from world renowned companies, many of them graduates of the Sheridan program. They provide valuable tips and different perspectives about their work experiences – a valuable tool for us as we launch our careers. One of our ongoing assignments is to write and publish an online blog of these talks, a resource to help us in future job searches.

As an practicing artist – a graduate of University of Toronto and Sheridan College, Oakville in Art and Art History – I will include my thoughts and experiences of the Toronto Art scene over the next few months.