Alumni Success Spotlight: Vanessa Trepanier (Video Game Design & Development)

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Frequent readers of our blog may remember our interview a few months ago with Vanessa Trepanier from the Video Game Design & Development program. At the time she had just graduated from the 18-month Video Game Design & Development diploma program at the Academy of Design. With a few flash games under her belt, and a portfolio in the works, Vanessa’s future in the industry looked bright.

We followed up with her last week after hearing she scored a great position as a Game Artist for Stir Fry Games. She shared some valuable insight regarding finding work in the video game industry, and how she made her education with us work for her.

Where do you work now? and tell us a little about what you do

I’m a Game Artist at Stir Fry Games, an indie company situated in Guelph Ontario. I do pretty much everything, from concept art to modelling, textures, writing, level design, testing, and even blogging.

Vanessa's workstation at Stir Fry Games

Tell us more about Stir Fry Games and how it has become a great fit for you

Stir Fry Games has only been around for a few years, and already the studio’s met with a lot of success! It’s now a three-person operation, and as far as working there goes, it’s pretty much my dream job! Instead of being stuck to one task, I’m able to do a variety of things and truly showcase my talent. I’m also able to give a substantial amount of creative input! It’s definitely a better work environment than a larger studio, in my opinion, because of these creative freedoms and the fact that I’m not stuck doing the same thing over and over again. I want to give the studio the best of my abilities, so we can continue being successful in the future! If you want to follow along on our progress, including our current (top secret) project, then you could head over to our website at We have a link to our blog on there.

How did your education at AODT prepare you for working in the industry?

Before I attended the AODT, I didn’t know a thing about video game production, especially the 3D art aspect. After attending the AODT, I was able to make a strong portfolio, and now I’m applying everything I learned at school to my new job. I’m also currently sharing some tricks I learned in school with the 3D community on the SFG blog.

What is the job market like out there for grads of the Video Game Design & Development program?

It all depends where and when you look. Don’t limit yourself to just one place: search all over, as far as you’re willing to move. There are so many game studios out there now, especially in Ontario and BC (and of course the US). Not all studios advertise that they’re looking though, so apply everywhere!

Do you have any words of wisdom for new grads looking to succeed in this industry?

Don’t be upset if you don’t get any interviews right away, especially at big studios. It can take time to get into the industry, and also applying for big studios right away isn’t necessarily the best tactic. Try to get your foot in the door somewhere, then go from there. Also, you can always consider making your own studio!

Are there any popular myths that you have dispelled, now that you are working in the video game industry?

I can safely say that indie can be better than AAA titles sometimes. And it’s not always fun and games, unless you’re trying out other games for “inspiration” at work.

To learn more about Stir Fry Games Studio, and demo some of the games they have developed, please visit

Are you interested in our Video Games Design & Development program? Visit the Academy of Design Website [link] for more information about our courses and application requirements. Give us a call at 416-929-0121 today for more info.

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The Chic Click – Two FMM graduates team up and start their own business

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Two graduates of the Academy of Design are making their dreams come true. Upon graduating from the Fashion Marketing and Merchandising program both Stefanie Di Mascio and Katie Beattie had their share of trials and learning experiences. However, remaining determined, hardworking and with an ability to take a chance they find themselves in an excellent position today - owners of their own company.

After realizing through various social media outlets that they were essentially doing the same thing (social media work) Stefanie messaged Katie about a potential business venture. They met at their now office (Starbucks) and the rest is history so they say; The Chic Click was born.

The Chic Click is a social media consulting and development company, offering clients a range of services from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Blogging, Tumblr, Flickr, and Foursquare. Stefanie and Katie meet with their clients, analyze their needs, and develop social media channels that suit those needs. They currently maintain and conduct the social media for companies such as O La La Life ( and 6 Degrees Event Center ( to name a few.

“After graduating from the Academy I started working a full-time job at a great company. A nine to five, good benefits, kind of job” says Katie. “But it wasn’t for me, and I wasn’t happy. When Stefanie messaged me it felt like fate, I felt like that was where I needed to be. We both have no problem working hard, and we do, and it’s getting us places, places where we want to be”.

They are both adamant that doing what you really want to do is hard, but worth it. You may face difficulties and they are sure there will be obstacles in the future. But they are unwavering and unwilling to accept defeat. “The Academy gives you the tools you need, you have to use them in a way that’s right for you” says Stefanie. Through combined forces, both Stefanie and Katie are using them to their advantage. Katie adds, “seeing CEO listed as my job title on our bank account was an amazing feeling!”. 

You can find more information about The Chic Click at and can follow them on Twitter @TheChicClick.

Interested in the Academy of Design’s fashion programs? Contact us online or call: 416-929-0121

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iDress for the Academy: White On!

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iDress for the Academy: White On!

For those of us lucky enough to be in classes during the summer when our city has decided to switch climates with the Sahara, we know we have to do what we can to beat the heat. In our first term of the Fashion Marketing program at the Academy we take a colour theory class, and based on what I’ve been seeing in classes lately, if we learned nothing we sure learned this: white deflects light. That light includes the sun’s unforgiving rays, so I say “White on, y’all!”


I am currently a Term 4 student studying Fashion Merchandising and Marketing at the Academy of Design.  I love: black, studs, enormous sunglasses, platform sneakers, excessive layers, and length.

Follow me on Twitter: @hallaek

Check out my Blog:


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New Fashion Intern! Meet Hallae Khosravi

Posted by admin in Fashion Design, Fashion Marketing, iDress for Academy, People | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Howdy folks, the name’s Hallae and I’ll be your new fashion intern, likely snapping pictures of your trendy outfits whether the fact is unbeknownst to you or not. I’ve been studying Fashion Merchandising and Marketing at the Academy of Design since October, and though I started out as the poser for my own fashion blog, I can now proudly say that I’ve made the transition to behind the camera (thanks to my photography prof, Babar).

I swear my only use here is not to hide behind corners like a paparazza awaiting her prey; only my prey is hopefully wearing a khaki midi, a silk ‘barely there’ tank, and oversized circular wire sunglasses. I’m also going to be letting you know about the fashion goings on with the school and around the city, and squeeze in some interviews.

I graduated from Queen’s with a BA in Drama and was intending to attend a conservatory acting program in the fall. But when I discovered the world of fashion blogs the time I spent researching designers on quickly started to take over any time for reading plays and creating well-rounded character profiles. My love of fashion really took off when I started my own fashion blog, then called La Mode Au Naturelle and now I Wear Black, based around the idea that curvy women can be just as stylish as the baby-giraffe-models we see prancing around these days. Creating the blog gave me an outlet to express myself through fashion on a bigger scale, as well as incited conversation between myself and most anyone who had seen the blog. It was fascinating the number of self-admittedly curvier girls that expressed their want to do something similar, but being afraid of the outcome due to their extra angles.

I’m a huge advocate for real, beautiful women and strongly believe that we need a stronger representation in the fashion community. When I look around my class at school I see seat after seat of attractive women expressing themselves through style, and we are the ones studying fashion. If we are representative of the future of fashion, then it is our job to alter that world to work not only for us, but for the reality in this world that the average woman is a size 8. My ‘passion for fashion’ extends beyond designer brands, and striking ads, and hopefully I can share that with you in my future posts.


I am currently a Term 4 student studying Fashion Merchandising and Marketing at the Academy of Design.  I love: black, studs, enormous sunglasses, platform sneakers, excessive layers, and length.

Follow me on Twitter: @hallaek

Check out my Blog:

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Muhammad Algamir designs for the YWCA World Council

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Beautiful, elegant, functional and quintessentially Canadian are all words to describe recent Fashion Design graduate Muhammad Algamir’s design for the YWCA Canadian delegates. Muhammad’s design won out against seven other competitors, and he not only designed the concept for the garment but oversaw the production of 19 identical jackets. His entire Fashion Design class was tasked with producing the jackets in various sizes.

YWCA Canada delegates will wear Muhammad's design to the YWCA World Council in Zurich, Swizterland

“I took my inspiration from Canada.” Muhammad says about the red and white jacket he created. “I know there were going to be lots of women with different bodies, so I made the design to suit everyone. It is flowing. I took the triangles from the YWCA logo and I made pockets so that it can be practical. The fabric is really good, not too thick.” [Excerpt from: YWCA blog]

YWCA Canada’s delegation will wear Muhammad’s red and white jacket to the YWCA World Council where over 1000 women across the YWCA movement gather to set policies and priorities for the YWCA movement, elect a governing board, honour women and develop leadership and capacity. Much like the Olympics, delegates from over 100 countries don colourful cultural costumes, outfits, t-shirts and accessories to celebrate this global gathering of women.

Muhammad next to his winning design

Muhammad Algamir comes from a long line of tailors and dressmakers. He originally studied business administration, but followed his passion for design instead after touring the Academy of Design. [Source: YWCA blog] The YWCA challenge isn’t the only time Muhammad has wowed us with his designs. You may remember the stunning red dress he designed that was showcased at Humber’s Fashion Exhibit (March 3-13, 2011). We have no doubt that Muhammad will continue to be successful in the fashion design industry. He is now working with Greta Constantine in Toronto as a sample maker.

Muhammad's stunning red dress from the Humber Fashion Exhibit

This project for the YWCA World Council was an excellent opportunity for Fashion Design students to gain real world experience in the industry, and understand designing for different sizes rather than the usual sample size 10. Students also learned more about the YWCA and their mandate. “We love partnering with the YWCA. It was great to have students learn more about the YWCA and it was so encouraging to see the group come back to finish the project together,” says Paula Shneer, Chair of the Fashion Programs at the Academy of Design, who was very pleased with the collaboration.

Interested in the Academy of Design’s fashion programs? Contact us online or call: 416-929-0121

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Design Ideas to Inspire You

Posted by admin in Innovation, Interior Design, Places, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Being a designer, you can never have too many inspirational ideas to motivate you to create a space. I stumbled upon this video and saw that it has some great pictures of well designed areas. Some of these spaces focus more on a decorators approach but there are also some that are the result of some highly skilled interior designers. This video definitely inspired me, I hope that it has the same affect on you.

Written by Rayni Kovacs, a term 3 student at The International Academy of Design. You can follow her on twitter at @_Rayni_

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Interior Design: Listing of LEED Certified Buildings in Toronto Ontario Area

Posted by admin in Innovation, Interior Design, People, Places, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dr. Maha Salman is a sustainability expert who teaches the subject at the Faculty of Interior Design program at the Academy. Recently, we sat down with her for an interview. Please see the post here.

Dr. Salman provides a list in this post of LEED certified buildings in Toronto and explains

Photo courtesy of the City of Mississauga website

the importance of LEED certification as our need for construction grows. Some commentators estimate that one-tenth of the global economy is devoted to construction, operating and equipping housing projects and office buildings. The building and construction sector is vital to the economy. This sector represents about 10% of the gross world product, provides 7% of the work opportunities.

Such demand consumes about 3 billion tons of raw materials each year. Buildings & construction sector consumes 50% of material recourses taken from nature are building related which means that 40% of the materials flow entering world economy is consumed in building. It also consumes a great deal of energy. About 50% of all energy used worldwide goes into buildings, with two-thirds of that used in housing sector. Most of the buildings, especially houses, depend on fossil fuel, directly or indirectly, for building operation. Building sector is responsible for 40-50% of greenhouse gas emission.

LEED Certified Buildings in the Toronto area;

Want to find out more?
Please RSVP for our talk with Dr. Maha Salman on Tuesday, May 31st at the Steeles Campus of the Academy of Design. 2000 Steeles Ave. W 7pm.

RSVP with Kathy Marques:

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Interior Design: Meet our new Associate Dean: Nadia Amoroso

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In the company of the ARIDO “Art by Designers” exhibit hosted at the Denison Gallery, the Academy of Design held a Wine & Cheese reception to welcome our newly appointed Associate Dean of Design, Nadia Amoroso as well as to announce our new Bachelor of Interior Design Program.

Dean Elizabeth Jeffers (left) with Associate Dean Nadia Amoroso (right)

Nadia Amoroso has many years of experience in academics, administration and research, at the graduate and undergraduate levels at a number of national and international universities, including the University of Toronto , Cornell University, the University of Arkansas, and the University of Oklahoma. She  was the Lawrence Halprin Professor at Cornell University and  the Garvan Chair at the University of Arkansas. She has lectured at a  number  universities and design institutions including Harvard University, The University of Michigan, Cornell University, the Architectural Association in London, and she has presented at  Google Earth headquarter in Silicon Valley area.  She holds a Ph.D from the University of London,  and  Masters and Bachelor design degrees  from the University of Toronto.

Dr. Amoroso’s work is extensively published in a number of magazines including Canadian Architect, Archis, Urban Design Journal, OnSite and others.  Her recent book,  ‘The Exposed City: Mapping the Urban Invisibles’, has received positive international reviews, including Landscape +Urbanism blog and Pop-Up City, and other architectural and design blogs. The creator of the TED conferences has written the foreword for this book and the co-founder of Google Earth has provided the afterword for it.

Dr. Amoroso sits on a number of design juries. She is a review panellist for book and article proposal submissions for several publishers.  More recently, she is working on new image-research based book on environmental digital design. This is being published by Thames and Hudson, and scheduled to be released next year.

Nadia surrounded by faculty, staff, students and alumni

The Academy of Design is excited to have Nadia Amoroso on board!

Interested in hearing more about our Interior Design degree program? Give us a call 416-929-0121 or contact us

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Interior Design: Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Maha Salman

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Dr. Maha Salman has been teaching Academy of Design students since October of 2009. She is an architect and holds a PhD in Sustainability & Architecture from the University of Huddersfield (UK). She has taught all over the world including Iraq, Libya and Dubai. We seized the chance to sit down with her and talk about her thoughts on sustainability, the eco-friendly movement, and how interior design can factor into saving the planet!

Thank you for taking the time to do an interview with us. How long have you taught at AODT?

I started here in October 2009, but I have been teaching for much longer than that and have taught in Iraq, Libya and in Dubai. I have a lot of experience teaching a diverse range of courses. When I came here I started teaching studio, environmental courses and some theory. They were all in my domain of sustainable architecture and environmental design, just in different context.

Dr. Salman (in purple) critiques a student's project


Sustainability is a hot topic today. How important is it to Interior Design?

Well the building sector consumes 40-50% of resources in the world so it’s very important that interior designers are mindful of this when creating built environments all over the world. The built environment consumes a lot of resources, a lot of energy, a lot of waste and CO2 emissions. Since we use materials, fixtures, etc. interior designers have the power to make conscious decisions that are better for the environment.

In regards to the definition of sustainability, what sort of topics to you teach students?

The first thing I teach my students in the global definition of sustainability which is to meet our needs without compromising future generations to fulfill theirs. This is the basic theme that I start with. We go through a lot of sustainable design issues: sustainable design principles, strategies, and how to apply these strategies to interior design. I educate students regarding the choices they can make about: materials, energy consumption, water, size, encouraging sustainable transportation, and indoor environment quality.

It’s very important to have healthy interior spaces. It’s not just about the health of people but also productivity. When people have healthy environments they are more productive (click for an interesting article on healthy office spaces). I also talk about costs, how we can save a lot of money by using sustainable materials and solutions. In the end it’s about the human well-being, about saving the environment, about minimizing waste, and about diminishing our carbon footprint.

All of these topics take up about two courses and we try to cover all of them. In addition I also get students to do their own research and designs. I encourage them to visit sustainable business buildings to see how they can apply what was used in those buildings to their own design projects.

What are some good interior design projects as examples of sustainable design?

I always look to LEED certified buildings that were built using sustainable strategies. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and in Canada they are governed by the CaGBC (Canada Green Building Council). They evaluate projects based on site, energy, materials, the indoor environment, innovation and design. Actually I teach everything through the LEED standpoint. It is quickly becoming a universal design guideline rather than just a certification assessment method. All LEED buildings are great examples for the students and I encourage them to visit these buildings specifically.

One building I particularly like the students to visit is St. Gabriel’s Passionist Parish. They have the opportunity to observe and investigate what’s used in the building that makes it sustainable, while keeping the function of the space in mind. Office buildings are also great places to visit and it helps inform their own designs for their Term 3 design studio where they have to design an office space. I tell them to incorporate what they learned in the sustainability course to their studio. I hope to make this a theme. All projects from now on should be sustainable.

What trends to you see in sustainability in the next 5 yrs?

Most of the firms are heading towards sustainability because a lot of people are now aware of how important it is. It’s not just a style like Gothic or Victorian style; it’s a theme of design. We are making a move towards non-toxic materials, renewable resources and recycled materials and furniture.

For a student interested in Interior Design, what advice would you give them?

Be aware of environment, how important it is, hat the problems are, what environmental crises there are now, and think of suggestions on how we can solve these problems with sustainable design. People who have this awareness are going to be more efficient interior designers since this is definitely where the industry is moving towards. When you graduate with this knowledge it makes you more in-demand and increases your chances of finding work since not a lot of people currently have this specialty. It will open a lot of doors and you get to save the environment too!

Interested in hearing more about our Interior Design Programs? Give us a call 416-929-0121 or contact us

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Interior Design: Art by Designers Event Wednesday May 11, 2011

Posted by admin in Charity, events, Interior Design, People | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Being a part of the design world, there are so many events and opportunities to broaden your horizons in different fields of design. Especially living in Toronto, there is always something design related going on. This week there was an art exhibit called “Art by Designers” held at the Denison Gallery located at 33 Wingold Ave. right here in Toronto. Being that my school, The Academy of Design at RCC Institute was a sponsor of this event, I was lucky enough to attend it on Wednesday evening. There was a great turnout that I’m sure everyone enjoyed it. The event was presented by the ARIDO GTA and it was the third year that it has been held. The main feature of this event was the silent auction for a charity called Inner City Angels. Inner City Angels is an arts education charity which provides Toronto’s inner city children with affordable arts and learning experiences with professional artists.

The AODT was a sponsor of "Art by Designers"

As I took a look at the works of art I noticed that many of the paintings were receiving great bidding results. Being an art lover myself, I bid on a few paintings and did not go home empty handed. This event was a great opportunity for up and coming artists to really promote their work. I also learned that one of the professors at AODT, Andrew Legault, actually designed the entire Denison Gallery a few years prior to this event. The design of the space included a great lighting scheme which really intrigued ones eye to look at the works of art, as well as a maze of forms and planes which led each and every viewer to be a part of the space and the art and to see each and every piece. Walking through the gallery made me feel like I was being absorbed into the art and really helped me appreciate it. I am proud that my school, The Academy of Design was a sponsor of this event and it was great to see many of my classmates and professors out there supporting the art and design world.

I was limited in regards to the photography I was allowed to take, but here are some pictures of the event below.

Denison Gallery

A Full House

My Personal Favoite Painting by Elizabeth Lennie


By: Rayni Kovacs

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