Emily Carr: Learning at a creative oasis


Photo by Jeff Vinnick

Jessica Molčan, 28
Visual Arts

Emily Carr University of Art + Design is nestled on Granville Island—actually a peninsula that juts into False Creek—among seemingly endless artists’ studios, tourist traps and misguided vehicles (really, it seems like most of them are lost). Despite the chaos, ECUAD provides a creative oasis for its students.

The minimalist and angular buildings aren’t particularly welcoming and the school feels very industrial. However, what the buildings lack, the student body makes up for in vibrancy and warmth. As a transfer student to ECUAD from Vancouver Island University, I experienced this first-hand when I arrived two years after much of the bonding that takes place during foundation year. It was a relief to connect with other students within the first week of classes—at least, ones in my own major. There is a downside: Each department is fairly isolated and, even though visual-arts students share a roof with their peers in industrial design and communication design, they seldom interact.

The studios are a great place to get work done and socialize, although they close at 11 p.m. The library is chock full of more art books than I’ve seen in my life; the on-campus bookstore has even more. The art store Opus is next door to the North Building, and offers students a 10 per cent discount on supplies. Having outgrown its island home, in 2016, the campus will move to a new creative hub at Great Northern Way between Main and Clark, closer to Chinatown and East Vancouver, so keep this in mind when choosing housing.

The school boasts a fantastic student art sale every December. Not only is it a great place to get your artwork out there, but people come specially to ECUAD to support students. There are artist talks and events on campus, some program-specific. The student-run magazine, the Woo, is another way to get your art, design or writing in print. There aren’t any sports teams or leagues, but there are plenty of clubs to join in everything from illustration to film. An extra bonus is that ECUAD recently struck a deal with the Vancouver Art Gallery to offer students an annual membership for a mere $5. Worth every penny.

Campus perks include the impromptu installation pieces and interactive art hidden inside and outside the buildings. Boat trips are a must: For $5.50 to $10 round-trip, little ferries ply False Creek from Granville Island to downtown Vancouver, with stops at David Lam Park, Stamp’s Landing and Spyglass Place.

City Vibe
Vancouver is, without a doubt, one of the most vibrant cities in Canada. While it’s not an art capital of the world just yet, downtown and the East Side both offer wonderful galleries with great openings, which are usually free. Since the university offers a U-Pass for students, jetting around the city on public transit is easy. Vancouver is also one of the few places you can go golfing and snowboarding on the same day. For those who are active, there’s a mountain of things to try—no pun intended.

The Skinny
For everything Vancouver, the good and the bad, events, food, and how to be a Vancouverite, check out VanCityBuzz.com.