Camille Porthouse Returns as “The Fairy Goth Mother”

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Camille Porthouse was last interviewed for WorkStory in 2014 at the beginning of her career as an Alternative Photographer. While she initially took photos for the music industry, a “Zombie Walk” ironically brought her passion to life. From there, Camille Porthouse Photography focused on the darker, more twisted things in life. It has since been rebranded as Fairy Goth Mother Studios in order to reflect Camille’s mission: “to help people be themselves and learn that you can find empowerment in letting your freak flag fly”.

Camille’s metamorphosis into “The Fairy Goth Mother” took a year to complete and she explained how something negative turned into something positive along the way: “I decided to re-brand in early 2016 after a year-long hiatus.  I wasn’t in a great place emotionally in 2015, and I felt unable to channel it into my art so I took a break. When I started to find myself and live more, I felt my passion coming back, and sat down to evaluate what this company is to me. I came upon the name Fairy Goth Mother Studios when I thought about the models I worked with that loved the alternative industry but didn’t fit into it. I worked to transform them … and thus acted like a fairy god mother of sorts-- just darker, of course…. At this point, I finally feel like my art can help people embrace their bodies, their sexuality, their inner weirdo, and see media and pop culture as a usable platform and not just some ‘body shaming industry’”.

When asked about what remained the same as the company changed, Camille replied: “My pre-shoot nerves are always tried and true. I have this moment the day of a shoot where I think to myself, ‘Oh my gosh! What have I gotten myself into?’ It doesn’t matter how long I have been preparing, I always have a huge inner panic”.

Fairy Goth Mother Studios is actually located inside Camille’s home, which helps relieve some of the stress for her and the models. Before each session, Camille gets to know her client(s) and they plan their photoshoot together over a few drinks:  “I like to really know the person modelling for me. It helps me pull out the emotion I am hoping to capture.  I recently bought a townhouse and chose to convert the basement into a studio. This is why we can have casual beers and hang out.  I have started to furnish my home with shooting in mind. I added a fireplace in my bedroom and a lovely canopy over my bed. I even [positioned] it so it would get the best natural light for Boudoir sessions. What can I say? I love this career.”

In November 2016, Camille displayed her work at RAW, a Kitchener-Waterloo based art show. In the days that followed, she was then approached to have her work on display in another Kitchener gallery. When she asked the curators what type of art they were looking for, they responded, “The weirder, the better!” and Camille is up for the challenge! In the past, Camille has described her work as “risqué” and originally didn’t see herself as an artist. Today she accepts her artistry and stresses that “it is so much more than a half-naked girl in a weird pose”.

“I started out not wanting to think of myself as an artist. I shot the things people wanted me to do and acted like photography was just a chill side-job…. I downplayed what I loved the most and in turn I doubted myself….  Over the last year I have really embraced what my art is. It’s a part of who I am [and] it’s how I view aspects of society… I always felt that everyone has a little hidden side to them, a side that they don’t show off to the rest of society because it isn’t appropriate or the social norm…. My work is risqué and provocative to some, but as I have grown as an artist I see the human body as something completely different than what some take at face value….”

Seeing the body differently may also be due to do with the fact that Camille works 6 days a week in the medical field as well! “I absolutely adore human anatomy, biomechanics, blood, gore, emergencies etc. so a career in the healthcare industry is a no-brainer! I am nerdy and logic-based and adore reading medical textbooks, but I also daydream about covering a model in cake and glitter.”

Before RAW, Camille had never been face-to-face with a critic, but she said overall the “response was amazing”. “I got to watch strangers look at my work for the first time.  There were [some] that didn’t seem to enjoy my work, but … people wanted to know the inspiration behind my images! No one had ever asked me that before and I got to open up and discuss the different layers and how I integrated them into my work. I was told that my work was inspiring, that people could see how comfortable I am with myself from my work, that they hoped to push their personal boundaries with their work after seeing mine, and that I should absolutely refuse to ever censor [myself]! I could have cried! I never thought that anyone would feel that way about my work.  It made me realize just what kind of impact I can have on people and that makes me want to do more and make people celebrate their oddities and just be free.” Camille Porthouse said that her goal as The Fairy Goth Mother in 2017 is to “push more boundaries, meet more people, and make them loosen up!” She will probably also cover models in cake and glitter.

You can connect with Camille on social media here, here and here.  

Alumna Bringing Realism Back To The Art World

By Heather Hughes

Emily Copeland knows your eye better than you do.

A collection by Emily Copeland, BFA’15, for her thesis, titled The Stacks, was recently on display at the Artlab Gallery in the John Labatt Visual Arts Centre. This was Copeland’s first solo exhibit.   Photo by Heather Hughes.

A collection by Emily Copeland, BFA’15, for her thesis, titled The Stacks, was recently on display at the Artlab Gallery in the John Labatt Visual Arts Centre. This was Copeland’s first solo exhibit.   Photo by Heather Hughes.

Copeland, BFA’15, is perfecting the art of realism drawing. Only one year after graduation, the young artist is managed by Bernarducci Meisel Gallery in New York, which focuses on contemporary realist art. Currently, her work is part of the First Look exhibition at the gallery; she is working on completing a 12-piece exhibit for spring 2017.

“I’m now the youngest person in the gallery,” she said with a smile.

While many artists struggle for a few years (typically age 30 is the sweet spot where artists tend to gain notoriety, she said), Copeland was determined to do things differently and create her own opportunities.

She started to “creep” art dealers and galleries on their social media accounts, particularly on Instagram, and through following popular accounts, regular commenting and posting images of her work and process pictures she was able to make some meaningful connections. These efforts proved fruitful, as it connected her to Bernarducci Meisel Gallery and the alumna’s art now garners a price tag of about $10,000 ($7,000-$8,000 U.S.). She recently sold a piece to a collector in Australia.

“You reach more people on Instagram,” she said. “It’s a very modern way of doing things, but it’s the whole reason I have a career right now. I’m proud I’ve done it on my own. You don’t have to follow the typical route. You have to find ways to beat the system.”

 In 2014-15, she worked with piles – or stacks – of poker chips, books, wood, clothing and teacups. These elements were blown up much larger than life size to give it a surreal effect. According to her, this method gives the audience a unique viewpoint that exposes detail they wouldn’t normally see. Each stack was comprised of something different – different materials, textures and colours – causing a variety of different shades and tones. Even though these objects were completely random, she attempted to create a pattern of shapes that change from circular, to rectangular, to triangular, then back to rectangles and circles.

As a result of those efforts, that collection of her thesis work, titled The Stacks, was recently on display at the Artlab Gallery in the John Labatt Visual Arts Centre. This was Copeland’s first solo exhibit.

“I’d never thought I’d have a show here – let alone a solo show,” she said.

The London, Ont.-based artist dedicates about 10 hours a day on her craft. Her technique? She photographs vintage subjects, such as a worn leather baseball glove, a glittery disco ball or a burlap-wrapped spoon and fork. Using Photoshop, she magnifies sections of the image and recreates it in charcoal on Stonehenge paper, working from the top left corner and moving section-by-section. Some of the images can take upwards of 300 hours to complete.

She draws inspiration from Baroque era artists – Caravaggio, La Tour and Velazque – and their focus on mimesis (replicating what they see) and their contrasts with lighting. Her current influences are Jonathan Delafield Cook, C.J. Hendry and DiegoKoi, primarily because they work from photographs to create hyper-realistic works.

“Realism – people don’t do it anymore. They don’t really teach it anymore,” she explained, noting she doesn’t look for deep, contemplative meaning behind her works, instead she likes “creating things that are nice to look at. If I see an object, I think, that would look good in black and white in space. I don’t have a lot of meaning behind my drawings. With realism, I’m focused on the technique.”

Even though she has spent her whole life in art school in some form, Copeland didn’t always see herself becoming a professional artist.

She attended H.B. Beal Secondary School in London, which has a strong emphasis on the arts. At the time, however, she thought art would always be a hobby. She was pre-accepted into the Ivey Business School, but in second year switched to Visual Arts. Even afterward, she wasn’t committed to art as a career. However, in fourth year, everything changed – she fell back in love with drawing.

“I said, ‘Nope, I’m being an artist.’ Obviously I’m meant to do this. If I have to draw every day of my life, it’s not work,” said Copeland, whose work was recognized through the Undergraduate Awards program.

Her intricate drawings capture the texture and light reflections of an object in an almost photo-realist way. She is particularly attracted to drawing items that aren’t flat and have dimension to them. Currently, she is working on a large-scale vintage bicycle with a flower basket on the front.

She has created a few sport-related images, however she does not want to be pigeonholed into one subject matter. “I have my audience in mind at all times. I like to please different audiences.”

With such early success in her art career, Copeland continues to refine her talents and is always looking for new ways to connect with her audience.

“I’m very proud of myself. I work really hard. I’m very stubborn and when I’m not drawing, I’m researching. I want to prove (the critics) wrong,” she said.

Learn more about Emily Copeland and her work at Follow her onInstagram e.copeland


 Posted with permission, Western News




Finding Herself in the Photography World: Krysta’s Story

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Krysta Myles is a portrait photographer with a passion for children and babies. Krysta began her journey into the photography world as a new mom. Her hobby eventually turned into her own business, Krysta Myles Photography. “I started getting into photography when I had my first child in 2010. She gave me a new perspective on how precious life really is, and how quickly time passes us by.” Krysta had always enjoyed taking photos, but when she saw how rapidly her daughter was growing, she said it made her “yearn to capture as much from her childhood” as possible.

“I became fascinated with snapping images of her and trying to figure out how to capture nice images wherever we were. While she was napping you could usually find me with my nose in a photography guide, or with a hot cup of tea at my laptop on photography websites. After posting what was mostly likely the 500,000th photo of my daughter on Facebook, a friend asked if I would be interested in taking some photos for them. I did, and I loved it, so I offered to take photos for friends and family until I eventually saved up enough to upgrade my equipment. I then launched my website and started taking in regular clients and I haven't looked back since!” she continued.

Krysta asked, “What’s not to love?” when referring to her job. “I have the opportunity to meet awesome new families, hold their precious new bundles of joy, and give my client's memories they will cherish, and call it ‘work’. The most rewarding part of my job is definitely seeing the look on my client's faces when they see their final images.  It is such a joy to be able to capture images that bring back memories of these fleeting moments in my client's lives.”

There are also a lot of challenges that come with Krysta’s profession that happen “behind the scenes” so people may not realize this is not an “easy job”. “The most challenging part of my job has been balancing work and family life. I work from home, so keeping up with my active children (5, 2, and 4 months), as well as working on my business, keeps me busy day and night. Settling into a good routine and carving out specific times each day for me to work has been essential for balancing it all.”

In addition to having clients in her own home, Krysta travels all over Bruce and Grey counties to do photo sessions. Afterwards, she edits and prepares the images into a personalized photo gallery for each client using her computer.  Her job also includes marketing, ordering products and blogging, all of which “require a lot more time than shooting sessions”.

Despite the challenges, Krysta loves interacting with her clients and making sure they are comfortable. “The biggest thing I want people to know before coming to a session is to relax. I strive to keep my sessions as laid back as possible, especially when there are children involved (they really pick up on stress). My favourite images from my sessions are always the ones taken during candid moments between loved ones. So I like to tell my clients to pretend there isn't a strange lady with a camera following them around, and to just be themselves.”

 Like her clients, Krysta Myles advises other photographers to be themselves as well. “…Find out who you are in the big photography world. Focus on finding your style and resist the temptation to compare yourself to other photographers. You have something unique to offer. Your individuality is what will set you apart from others and make your work stand out.”

To book an appointment with Krysta, you can email her at or visit her website.

The Girl with a Passion for Fashion: Nicole Snobelen

By Veerta Singh, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University


When Nicole Snobelen was 8 years old, her Nanny gave her a designer game where she could draw and color outfits. Nicole knew right then and there that this was something she wanted to do with the rest of her life and she made her dream a reality!  Nicole Snobelen is the owner and designer of Evelynn by Nicole Snobelen and the Founder of the Abby Girl Fund. She studied Fashion Design at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario during the years of 2009 – 2012.

Evelynn is a Canadian fashion line based in London. The collection is targeted towards young women who love to stand out in a crowd! Nicole also founded The Abby Girl Fund, a fundraiser that started in 2015 to help lift the spirits of girls suffering from illness. Volunteers with the Abby Girl Fund visit girls in the hospital and work with them to design and colour their dream dress. In the days that follow, they secretly fabricate the identical design and make the young girl’s dream dress come to life. A few days later, they surprise each girl with her very own custom dress!

Prior to seeing her dreams come to fruition, Nicole indulged herself in many different experiences that really gave her a better sense of the fashion world and helped her get to where she is today. She was the marketing captain at The London Tap house, where she was put in charge of customer relations, marketing the business, running Friday nights, planning events and getting people involved with the company. She also trained new employees – both servers and members of the marketing team. 

Nicole also assisted fashion designers at Toronto Fashion Week, where she furthered her knowledge in the fashion industry. And as if that isn’t impressive enough, Nicole put together over 23 fashion shows to raise money for charity organizations like The Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Diabetes, Lupus Canada, Cystic Fibrosis, and MS Research.

So what does a day in the life of Nicole Snobelen look like? “Being an entrepreneur, I typically start working when I open my eyes and, until I close them, I am never really not working—I am my business. I start my day off by checking and replying to emails, followed by updating social media outlets. This usually includes updating my website, prepping orders to be sent out and mailing them. I try to get in 3 to 5 hours of sewing—new inventory or custom work. Some days I schedule trips to the fabric stores. I like to set aside an hour a day to spend time on the Abby Girl Fund submissions—whether that would be patterns, making the design they came up with or actually putting it into production to sew”.

Nicole says that four things are very important when working in this field. “Passion is so important. If you’re going to run your own business, you need to love and be passionate about what you are doing”. She stresses that patience is also key because you cannot expect to be successful right away—things take time to grow. Dedication is also important. “It not only takes a lot of work to create a job where there wasn’t one, but to actually wear every “hat“ (run and control every part) in your business from the start can take a lot out of you. I have sacrificed a lot of things in my journey, like having a fixed income. When I first started Evelynn, I was living dress to dress in order to get where I am today”. Last, but not least, creativity. The fashion industry is very competitive and you need to be able to find inspiration easily.

The reason Nicole is involved with fashion design is because her favourite thing to do is brighten people’s days or bring them out of their situation. “I am very passionate about what I am doing and who I have become in the process. I wanted to use my talents to help people, which is why I started the Abby Girl Fund. I use my gift to brighten the days of little children going through a hard time. To not only see, but be a part of putting a smile on the children’s face, it fills me with so much joy. I can honestly say I have the best job I could ever imagine. I get to wake up every day and live my dream, choose the people I want to work with and be a part of something amazing that I created”.

Nicole has some great advice for people who are relatively new in the workforce. “Don’t give up on your dream! Things will get tough and you will feel discouraged but if this is your dream, fight for it! Listen to people; you can learn something from everyone you meet. Be a good person and help people when you can”.

To see some of Nicole’s fantastic work from Evelynn, visit her Facebook page:

To get more information on the Abby Girl Fund, visit:


Putting It All Together: Michelle’s Public Relations Story

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Michelle Praymayer is the Public Relations and Promotional Events Assistant at Home Hardware Stores Limited for the head office in St. Jacobs, Ontario. With previous employment in the radio and television industries, and as a former student of both Conestoga and Fanshawe College, Michelle has used her promotional and media experiences to excel as a member of the Home Hardware team.

Michelle says that she loves “the variety” that her job brings: “Every day is unique and I get to be a part of so many neat things.” Along with variety, Michelle loves the atmosphere surrounding her workplace: “It’s a family business. It’s a small town environment and most people know each other and are very friendly.... It adds to the charm.”

 On a typical day,  Michelle can be found phoning store owners and customers, picking products to donate to fundraisers, answering emails, creating and editing press releases or newsletter articles, as well as creating product lists. On the not-so typical days, Michelle’s variety of tasks increases! For example, earlier this year, she organized the entertainment for Home Hardware Canada's national Dealer Market event, which included a circus act called, “The Aerial Angels” and she was chosen to coordinate the Lieutenant Governor’s visit to the Home Hardware distribution centre as well. In addition, Michelle has suited up as the mascot, “Handy the Helpful Hound” for Thanksgiving and Christmas parades. Through her work, she was also able to attend the 2014 International Plowing Match which took place in Alliston, ON. Michelle has even worked alongside the experts seen in the Home Hardware commercials, Mark Cullen and Anna Olson!

 Initially, Michelle wasn’t expecting to get the job: “My mom worked there first and brought home the posting. I applied in March... and didn’t get a call until end of May. They hired me in that interview.” Michelle began working at Home Hardware in June 2014 and credits her previous experiences, including volunteer work, for helping her acquire this position. “Say yes to every opportunity” says Praymayer. “Volunteer in the field or a related field early to gain the competitive edge and make you more appealing to the employer.”

 Michelle studied at Conestoga College in her hometown of Kitchener for a career in Broadcasting; This led to appearances on television and radio and many other opportunities. After one year, she changed directions and continued her education at Fanshawe College in London with the Music Industry Arts program. After graduating, Michelle took some time off and returned to Conestoga to become an Event Planner. Michelle says that she is still figuring out what to do with her life. However, she has been able to successfully apply aspects from all of her programs as a Public Relations and Promotional Events Assistant for Home Hardware:

 “It’s really neat to see things from my past coming up” Praymayer explains. Michelle worked on entertainment contracts while in school, which is something she has to do at work when booking the entertainment for various events. “I created training videos here [and] I used previous knowledge from my writing skills [I] developed [as a writer for] SportsXpress magazines”. Michelle also had previous work experience in the food industry which has helped her to create menus for other special events. Although Michelle Praymayer may be unclear on what her future holds, it is certain that she will continue to excel at what she does, thanks to her hard work and determination, in whatever field she chooses.

Overcoming Isolation through Art: Heather’s Story

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Heather Wodhams is a part-time retail employee with a full-time passion for art and photography. “When it comes to art,” explains Heather, “nothing about it feels like a job!  It is my essence and something that brings me so much fulfillment.”

“Art and photography are an outlet for me, a way of expressing who I am as a person and what I believe in without having to really explain myself. It is a way of reaching out to the world to see how people from all walks of life respond to me and my creations.  In this way, even though I would categorize myself as an introvert, I am still able to relate to the world and feel connected so that I don’t feel isolated.”

Heather was born in Georgetown and raised in Tara, Ontario with “an incredibly active imagination”. She has always had a love for reading fiction and being out in nature, which is often reflected in her work today: “I believed, and still do, that all life is precious and that there is importance and strength even in the smallest things, maybe because I’m so small myself!  I realized that I could help other people see what I saw by recreating or documenting things that inspired me.... It becomes quite obvious from looking at my work that nature is a prevalent and recurring theme in anything that I do.  It is ever-changing and provides endless inspiration.”

Nature is something that Heather has become quite at ease with, but that doesn’t mean she is a one-trick pony. Wodhams has created a diverse body of work using a variety of methods including, but not limited to: photography, collages, painting, illustrations, digital art and more. She is always willing to work outside of her comfort zone and to try something new:

“In recent months, I have started photographing people and families, something entirely new and challenging to me.  But I don’t limit myself to any one subject-- the same way I don’t constrain myself to any one medium.  People make requests for things I’ve never done, most recently photographing cars, and I love the challenge!  Still, lately I do have an affinity for watercolour, ink, and of course any type of photography.... I work in a variety of mediums because I never want to become complacent, or comfortable with what I am doing.  There is a vulnerability and an excitement that comes from working with a material that you haven’t yet mastered.  For me, art is not about flaunting my abilities. It’s about constantly learning and growing.“

 Although being an artist can be a solitary occupation, Heather is open to collaborations. One of her earliest collaborations was in Grade 12 at Chesley District High School (now Chesley District Community School) where, at the time, the entire student body consisted of  only 300 people. Heather was chosen to create a mural that would be on display in one of the school’s hallways. She painted the Chesley Cougar mascot in front of several yellow and black bricks. Then each brick was filled in with a unique design created by the equally unique individuals in Heather’s graduating class. She recalls the experience as follows:

“Back at CDHS, I felt so strongly that the school was very special in that we were a tight-knit group of students.  So when I had the opportunity to create the mural I knew I wanted it to represent the students and the bond we shared, to be a lasting tribute to the positive aspects of high school. I absolutely loved to see the people filling in their own section of brick on the mural, because they were the building blocks of the school community and it helped to show their diversity and individualism.  I was warned that vandalism may happen to the piece later on and I thought ‘well, if I give these students the opportunity to be a part of this mural they will be much less likely to want to deface something they helped create’.  It was a way of working with my peers instead of isolating myself from them.”

Today, Heather continues to collaborate through commissioning her work, which gives her the chance to create something that she would not have necessarily thought of on her own. She has a connected with others from around the world through her Facebook page and  Instagram account which allow her to display and sell her work without being in “a traditional gallery setting”.

Even though she excels at what she does, Heather’s journey into the art world has not always been easy and has taken some unexpected turns. Before working with a variety of mediums, Wodhams mostly focussed on painting in college. This ended up depleting her creativity instead of increasing it. She admits that she was at a point where she didn’t paint for “over a year” after she graduated from Fanshawe. However, this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because it opened her eyes to other creative and work-related opportunities:

“After high school I made the difficult decision of going to post-secondary to study art.  It made sense to my friends and family, but to me there was always a fear a failure, and of coming out the other side with nothing but debt and a useless diploma.  I graduated in 2010 from the Fanshawe Fine Arts program and immediately got a job at Fotoart (a camera and photography store).  From there my passion for photography grew exponentially. I was then offered a job at Lens Rentals Canada (LRC) and jumped at the opportunity to connect with photographers from all across Canada, and to use gear that I could have normally only dreamed of using.  These jobs helped me gain a confidence and a drive to want to be my own boss, focus on my own business and see if I could apply the things I learned to my career as a freelance artist.  So with some hesitancy, I left LRC in October 2014 to start my own venture, which of course leads us to the here and now!”

Currently, Wodhams’ struggles with art are more positive because her mind is now over-run with ideas and it is difficult “to bring them all to reality!” For Heather, each new idea leads to another, “so that the thrill of a new creation never fades.” In the future, she would like to continue learning the video editing process as well as working with stained glass and jewelry-making!

In the words of the beloved “Ms. Frizzle” from The Magic School Bus, Heather Wodhams would advise her younger-self to “Take chances, make mistakes and get messy.” She emphasizes, “If there is one thing I could tell my young artist-self, it would be to not feel pressure from anyone to alter the way you create art.  We all have our own process and even though some may not understand yours, the important thing is that you do.  Even if you can’t explain why you create, there is an instinct within you that leads you in completing a piece. Trying to fit yourself into a mold of what an artist is will quickly drain any joy and passion you had for art.  Trust your instincts....  After all, art can be an incredibly personal and intimate creation, and to others it is simply a whimsical outlet, so just try to maintain a truth with yourself and that way no matter what anyone thinks, you will feel confident in your work knowing that you love it.”

Look What They Have Become: Jamara and Darryl’s Film Making Journey

As told by Jamara Forbes & Darryl Ayles to Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

 Darryl Ayles is rarely seen without Jamara Forbes and his orange hat. Put all three together and you have Orange Hat Film Productions, an independent film company based out of London, Ontario. Recent grads of Fanshawe College’s Advanced Filmmaking Program, Jamara and Darryl are working on their biggest project yet: Look What You Have Become, a novel and a mini-series and they want you to be a part of it!

What is your job?

 Jamara: I currently work retail during the weekdays and on weekends I lead my second life as production manager, writer and director at Orange Hat Film Productions (OHFP). 

Darryl: I am basically just working on Orange Hat business as my full-time job. So I’ve been working behind the scenes day to day, keeping everything up to date. I’m also the Director of Photography and part-time Director for our upcoming project.

 What do you love about filmmaking?

Jamara: I think what I love most is the camaraderie that grows when working in small crews, independently. More recently, I have found the writing/producer role to be extremely satisfying. There is something so incredible about watching [the] characters you’ve developed literally come to life and tell your story.

Darryl: Honestly, I really think being there every step of the way, from when my idea is just a pipe dream to when I see it projected in front of a crowd, that’s the best part.

What path did you take to get where you are?

 Jamara: Fresh out of high school, I applied to Music Industry Arts at Fanshawe College to pursue my love of editing/mixing music. After being waitlisted, I figured film editing would be the next best thing. I could incorporate all that I wanted to with music only with a video track on top. I fell in love with film noir, theory and filming and never looked back.

Darryl:  Well, it all began back in grade 10, when I believed – as any child does – that they are destined to be the lead actor of every film ever. After discovering that I had no acting talent, I began to work behind the curtain. There, I received what I would like to call a college-level education in theatrical lighting and sound. After many years, and many friends, I decided to continue the path and apply for college. That’s when I chose Film Studies as a backup. Although my backup may not have been my first choice, it ended up being the right one. After only a few classes, I knew that I wanted to be behind the camera-- and on top of it all, that I wanted to be in charge. After completing Film Studies, I entered and completed Advanced Filmmaking, (AFM) which has been one of my biggest accomplishments to date. Finally, through a classmate, I started helping on an independent film based out of London called Theories and I was able to make a lot of connections. Not only with a lot of actors that ended up in the mini series, but with a couple producers, Mike Tyrrell and Dayna Pearce who have been a huge help as we move forward in production.

How did Orange Hat Film Productions start?

Jamara: OHFP started officially the day of last year’s Advanced Filmmaking “First Take Film Festival”…. we were no longer confined by project outlines and creative constraint from profs or peers. Our first OHFP short film was Conscious, which we filmed in three days on our own time. After AFM taught us the filmmaking formula and steps to follow, we’ve easily adapted this style to all our following projects.

What makes the two of you a great team?

Jamara: We make a great team because of the time we’ve spent learning the same material. We are able to communicate with fluidity about paperwork, production, and post-production. We speak the same language thanks to the three years we spent with wonderful Fanshawe College profs who drilled everything into our heads….

Darryl: We started dating one year before Orange Hat was established and our great communication and love for cinema just fit. Together, we tag team every process and trade off when the going gets tough.

 How did you come up with the Look What You Have Become mini-series and book?

Jamara: We graduated August 26, 2014, and the first version of our script was finished September 17th. We had a blast during the last semester of school filming four short films with friends. The loss of school really gave us a kick in the pants to keep the constant flow of filmmaking going strong. After Darryl wrote the outline we each took turns writing the screenplay and three seasons later, we’re still writing and developing. Adapting the screenplay into a novel started as my side-project, but soon [it] showed more potential than we anticipated. It turned out that film—being a visual language—translated effortlessly into novel format and the voice of Shadow Sellers, [the main character] is quite a strong one.

Darryl: ….I didn’t really feel the need or urge to film anything any time soon…. About three weeks [after graduation], the urge set in and I found myself coming up with crazy concepts for storytelling…. I had developed a backwards-style story and the basic concepts of how I wanted to write, film and release it. 

Why did you choose to shoot the mini-series in black and white?

Darryl: Well, it was not an easy decision by any means. I had a meeting with our producer, Mike Tyrrell a couple months before going to shoot and we talked about all the pros and cons of shooting it in black and white. Soon enough, the pros were heavily outweighing the cons, and by the end of the meeting, I was more than confident in solidifying my decision. Some of the main reasons we stuck with the choice were to save time and money, especially in post production. The camera we chose to use allows us [to create] small file sizes, making our episode turnaround time shrink dramatically. This would all not be possible working with the cinema standards of today….  Instead [we’ve] created a … project that will be perfect for viewing on anything from a mobile device to a home theatre. Above all else, I like to think, “What if we were doing this exact project ten or fifteen years ago before digital was acceptable?”… Without a big production company backing us, 35mm film (theatre standard) would not be an option, and to complete a demanding mini-series on a low budget, there would only really be one choice: 16mm, black and white [film]. I like to believe that our 16:9 1080p files are a perfect digital substitute for the size and feel of 16mm [black and white film].

 What are you most excited about with Look What You Have Become and where can we see the mini-series when it’s complete?

Jamara: I’m most excited about our plan to screen all seasons in succession at London’s Hyland Cinema Theatre. I think it’s a wonderful idea and when the time finally comes, I can’t wait to sit back and watch our story come to the big screen!

Darryl: I’m honestly just most excited to receive a response—not only from the novel, but episodically, every single week and be able to pinpoint where we succeeded and where we failed in a more specific way than ever before. One risk in particular is that we are shooting everything in black and white. I’m a little nervous about how it will look from time to time, but I have faith it will turn out in the end. In addition, I’m so excited to break away from short films and music videos, because taking on a project of this size is kind of like my final test to know that I can handle the responsibility of directing a full-length film in the near future.

Jamara: When we complete this project it will be released episodically online, either on YouTube or Vimeo. I mean, the dream for us right now is Netflix, but there’s nothing wrong with dreaming big!

 Darryl:  ...I think that it’s a matter of people seeing this material regardless if they’re paying or not. That’s why I think the YouTube approach is the smartest for our mini-series.

 Where is the mini-series being filmed and how can people get involved?

Jamara: The majority of filming will take place in London, Ontario with a few days for out of town shooting. Please, please, please get involved! Submit to us any artwork, music, graphic designs and we would be honored to feature your works in an episode or more! My main goal was to make this project a collaborative effort from all my friends, peers, associates, and neighbours. We want our story to speak to you in a familiar voice.

Darryl: If you are interested in being a camera assistant, PA, gaffer, stills photographer, or script supervisor, we could always use an extra helping hand on set. We have a great team right now but sometimes an extra hand is needed. Please email us at We would love to get in touch.

 To learn more about Jamara & Darryl’s work have a look here and here

Krysia Bussiere: Designing Woman

By Jennifer Ammoscato

 As an architect, Krysia Bussiere BA ’12 doesn’t want to just build buildings.

She wants to help build community.

 “Architects can affect change on both a social and a physical level,” The UWindsor grad says of her work at the Detroit, Mich., architectural firm, Hamilton Anderson.  

Bussiere doesn’t shy away from a challenge. When told by Dr. Veronika  Mogyorody that the University’s new Visual Arts and the Built Environment program (VABE) would be “difficult and demanding,” she was intrigued. In fall 2009, she enrolled as part of its first class.

VABE is a collaboration of the University of Windsor’s School of Creative Arts and the University of  Detroit Mercy’s (UDM) School of Architecture. It combines the study of art and architecture to give students a breadth of knowledge and experience in both disciplines. 

 For Bussiere, VABE combined very “loose” things like the visual arts with very technical things. “It was really fun,” she says. “Like solving a puzzle. I love thinking about how people move through space, or how architecture or cities can be influenced by and influence culture.  It’s thinking on so many different levels.” 

The VABE program focuses on art in the first two years. If a student’s primary interest is in visual arts, they can complete third and fourth year at the University of Windsor and graduate with a Bachelor of  Fine Arts in Visual Arts and the Built Environment.  If they are interested in pursuing architecture and qualify, in third year they can apply to the architectural program at UDM. 

For Bussiere, the goal was always architecture. “I wanted to study architecture, but I also wanted to learn the fundamentals of drawing and sculpture.”  She spent most of first year learning to draw in various mediums, as well as some painting and sculpture, which is helpful because architects need to be able to convey their design ideas visually.

 “The visual arts classes taught me how to control my hand for Modelling and drawing,” she says. “By second year, we were all so confident in our skills that we could model creatively and quickly in such great volume.”

 Bussiere spent her third-, and fourth-year co-op placements with Toronto-based B+H, one of Canada’s largest architectural firms. “I learned more and more about the architectural process.

I learned about ‘construction documents’ and how they zero in on finer details as a project progresses. Over time, I was given more and more responsibility.”

Through B+H, Bussiere worked on higher education buildings and on the Markham Pan Am Centre erected for the 2015Pan / Parapan American Games in Markham, Ont.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts in 2012 from U Windsor, part of VABE’s first graduating class. The alumna was accepted to the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture, and went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in 2013 and Master’s in Architecture in 2014.

 Bussiere joined Hamilton Anderson, a Detroit firm that handles a wide variety of projects that include architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and interior design. 

 She initially began as an intern, but is now full time. “While you’re in school, you hear about firms from your professors and get in your mind where you’d like to work based on what they do and the people who work there.

 “Working with Hamilton Anderson appealed to me because they have a great studio environment and take on large-scale projects—but also smaller-scale projects—in the city of Detroit.”

 Detroit, freshly sprung from its term as the largest city in US history to declare bankruptcy, is working hard to transform itself. Part of this includes attracting investors and tenants to its once-bustling downtown. Hamilton  Anderson is one of the firms helping to shape its new face in an effort to reverse the exodus of businesses to the suburbs.

What Bussiere loves about her work is the range of projects she works on. “You’re constantly learning and it’s interesting.”

She also enjoys “the constant dialogue between you and the client and you and the contractor so that the work being done matches the needs, expectations and standards.”

The architecture of both Windsor and Detroit fascinates the grad. “I grew up in the area and want to learn more about its architectural background.” Of particular interest to her is Detroit, perceived by many to be on the cusp of a long-hoped for renaissance. During her UDM studies, projects frequently involved local sites in the Motor City.

 “I think it’s rare for an architectural program to focus on the Community aspect, and the need to create projects that benefit the community,” she says.

 “You came away from it with this sense that you have to be responsible with what you’re designing. We muse about the kinds of changes we can create as designers, architects, landscape architects and how we can tangibly change, because that’s what we’ve learned.”

 This story, reprinted with permission, originally appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of View the University of Windsor Alumni Magazine.

Living a Working Poet’s Life: Holly’s Story

By Holly Painter

Facilitated by Elyse Trudell, WorkStory Ambassador

 If you had asked me as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have answered "teacher". If you had asked me as a teenager what my plans were after high school, I would have answered "teacher's college". If you had asked me as an early twenty-something what my passion and future career was, I would have answered "teaching". So as my 30th birthday approaches, you might naturally assume that I spend my weekdays in a classroom, standing in front of a group of students discussing important topics and curriculum material, preparing them for the next test, essay, exam, grade. If you assumed all of this you'd be half correct, but I bet you'd never guess my job title: I'm a poet.

Poet? I can imagine exactly how your forehead is wrinkling at the thought. Poetry, as in the boring stuff studied in school? Who would decide to do that as a job? How is it even possible to make any money? And how is that in any way related to teaching?

I am a spoken word artist. I perform poetry, writing and rehearsing my poems before sharing them on stages (and in classrooms) across the country. I began performing at poetry slams (after battling my fear of public speaking), and eventually my hobby became my job. Correct that; my hobby became my passion that pays the bills.

I run the London Poetry Slam, a space and stage open and welcoming to creative writers and spoken word artists of all ages. Right now, over fifty percent of our performing poets and audience members are youth under the age of 21. Poetry is alive and well, and it's all the things you never knew from English class: it's energetic and engaging, it packs a room once a month on a Friday night with 150 excited people, eager to share their own and listen to each other's stories. And youth love it.

The basic messages of spoken word poetry in London are "Speak Your Truth" and "Show the Love". These messages I carry with me as I speak at schools across the province at assemblies or in classroom workshops. The poetry actually becomes secondary to the themes of being open and willing to share personal experiences, and listening and being respectful and empathetic as people do. You would think high school would be the last place you would see this type of thing happen. But I see it every week. Youth relishing the opportunity to share their thoughts, feelings, experiences, and passions with their peers, to write, create, and speak freely, and to snap their fingers in support and acceptance as they hear and connect with what others are going through.

I may not be a full-time classroom teacher, but I wouldn't trade my job as poet/public speaker/arts educator for the world. What I have learned about youth through listening to their poems are the fundamental things I believed about them when I felt the tug at my heart to be a teacher; young people are artistic, articulate, and altruistic. They are passionate, perceptive, and powerful. They are enthusiastic, empathetic, and engaging. They are artists, advocates, activists, and teachers just as much as they are students when given the chance to open up, speak, and share. Often they just need a way to express all of this and someone to throw them the ropes and listen when they take hold.

If you asked me years ago how to help students become all of the things listed above, I guarantee you I would not have answered poetry. Funny what happens when you try something new, ignore doubts or fears, and encourage young people to realize the power of their words.

For more about Holly’s work check out

A version of this piece originally appeared in the London Free Press on March 6, 2015 


Painting a Different Path

By Karli Steen, WorkStory Ambassador 

Self-employed artist Alicia Wishart always knew her career path would be one that accented her creativity. Her original interest was Animation, so she started her journey with the Art Fundamentals program at Sheridan College, in order to prepare. After finding that the program wasn't for her after all, she took time to re-evaluate, and then pursued Graphic Design.

Though Graphic Design is not a main focus, Alicia says the techniques taught are still very useful: "I can do many of the things that cost people a lot of money. Steve (her husband), designed my website, but I maintain it and do any changes. I do all my own promotional materials, can scan and prepare all my art for reproduction for many other products. I am also able to layout large projects like my book and make it print ready. I tend to follow colour trends that I think people would enjoy in their art."

Alicia had never really considered turning her love for art into a profession, in spite of loving it since high school. She recalls being told that making a living as an artist was an impossible feat,  but she decided to take a chance and try it after she knew her position at the time,  in graphics, was coming to a close.

For Alicia, there are two types of work days - days at home and days at art shows. Days at home usually involve being fully immersed in painting, with a current show of interest playing in the background. Up to 7 to 8 hours can be spent painting; and the process can get so intense, that needs like showering can easily be forgotten.

Alicia described the various elements of a show day: "When I'm at a show, I have to drive to the show and set up my tent. Good situation will mean I can drive up to my spot and unload there. Bad situation means I have to find a parking spot, unload my stuff into my wagon, drag it two blocks and then down a ravine to my spot. Repeat about 5-6 times until all is unloaded and then set up the tent. Takes about two hours to make the tent nice. On show day, I get up and put on comfy clothes that are also decent looking. I'm usually set up in my tent in a park so I have to consider the weather will I be cold, is it raining, will I be sweating like a pig and likely get heat stroke again? It's not much different than working retail I talk to tons of people and sell my gear. When the show is done, I have to take everything down, pack it up and drive to wherever I'm sleeping. It can be a very tiring end to an already long and tiring day."

When asked what she found most rewarding about being an artist, Alicia had this to say: "The most rewarding thing is seeing how much I can accomplish. I did 6 paintings in a 6 month period for school and I thought that was insane. I worked so hard! Now I have done somewhere around 225 paintings in 7 years and feel like I need to work harder. I've made some really great friends from being on the show circuit and feel like I've gained an extended family. Everyone wants to help each other succeed so having that community is very helpful when you need advice. Most people have no idea what our life is like other than fellow show people. I have also had opportunities to do things that I wouldn't have had the chance to do if not for meeting my fans. They treat me well and send me greetings or come to see me whenever I'm in town. I got a behind the scenes tour at the Calgary Zoo and got to pet my favourite hippo, Sparky."

Although Alicia is happy in her work, she admits she does well when the economy does. She will continue painting, but also hopes to expand her artistic talent with cake making. Aside from artwork, Alicia has a fur/shell family, consisting of two dogs, a cat, and two tortoises. They keep her life just as colourful and busy as painting does; and she hopes to one day establish a tortoise sanctuary.

For those interested in the world of art, Alicia stresses the importance of being able to adapt. Art is always evolving and, if you can't evolve with it, it will be hard to last. If you plan to be a self-employed artist, Alicia recommends taking some marketing and business courses, as they will teach you how to sell the art you produce. She also has some advice on art in particular: "As for producing art, go with your own voice and not what others tell you. You have to make it, not them. Art doesn't have to be overly introspective and deep. It can be fun or beautiful or just something awesome. When you follow your own voice, it will show in your work and others will see your passion too.

Check out Alicia Wisharts work here:

Meet Waffles & Mango






Blood and Gore Leads to Happy Career in Photography

By Annette Dawm,  WorkStory Ambassador

Camille Porthouse is the owner of Camille Porthouse Photography, but unlike many other photographers, Camille doesn’t often take the traditional wedding and baby photos you might find on another professional’s Facebook page. Camille is happiest when she gets to work with individuals who share her love of blood, gore and latex clothing, all within the Alternative Photography Industry.

“I am lucky enough to specialize in something I love, which is working on artistic shoots with alternative models” says Porthouse. “This means I get to have almost full artistic control over the shoots I create. I get to come up with concepts for the makeup artists, and I also get to draw up designs to help clothing designers see my overall vision.”

Although she is at the helm of Camille Porthouse Photography, every project Camille works on is a collaborative piece of art. Each shoot comes together with the help of many talented people. The mutual bond that she and her fellow artists share is what gets her “most excited” about her job:

“I love that I can express myself through art while having amazing teams of individuals that want to see my visions come to fruition. It creates a group of artistic individuals that can all seek inspiration from one another.”

Even though Camille loves what she does now, she never liked photography growing up and she certainly wasn’t interested in taking pictures of people. However, one Christmas while she was living in Ottawa, she was given a professional camera. She soon learned how to use it, but she still wasn’t comfortable with human models. Then an unusual event changed everything for Camille!

“It wasn't until I heard about a city Zombie Walk event that I decided that this would be my first real test in taking photos. Once the 2008 Ottawa Zombie Walk happened I was completely hooked! People had an amazing response to my work and it fuelled me to look [at] this as a potential career. Life then took me to London, Ontario and I began shooting for charity fashion shows, and once again the annual city Zombie Walk. Word started spreading, and soon enough I was being contacted to work various city wide events.”

Camille was also a professional photographer for Canadian musicians, Hedley and Karl Wolf when they played in London in 2012. She was able to work at the concert as well as the after party. Following this event, Camille found herself working as a photographer at many hip hop concerts, but this wasn’t her thing. As for her advice to aspiring photographers in any genre, she wants you to know this: 

“For newcomers in the industry I would say, ‘just stop trying to do what is on trend. Follow your heart and your interests.’ I didn't at first, and I spent over a year shooting rap shows, which is about as far off from who I am as a person as you can get!’”

Camille has been following her own advice and she tells us that, “Since then, I have refined my business and feel happy shooting the things that I want to, the things that make me happiest. It just so happens that blood, gore, and latex clothing make me the happiest. Who would have thought?”

Her work has been making other people happy as well. She has been published in over 25 different Alternative magazines, both in the online world and in print. “I have had the most success so far with publications in South Africa and Australia. However, my work has also been published throughout North America and in England” says Porthouse. If you are interested in seeing Camille’s work and links to where she has been published, you can visit her Facebook page, which she credits as an “integral tool” in terms of creating a successful business.  

Elite student kept in tune with industry

By Paul Mayne, Western News

Koen Tholhuijsen, a recent graduate of Western’s Piano Technology Program, recently started an internship at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music. The Netherlands native said the program at Western taught him all he needed to know about tuning and repairing pianos.

While growing up in the Netherlands, Koen Tholhuijsen spent countless hours in his father’s workshop.

“As an electrician, he had a lot of tools hanging around. As a kid, I was extremely good at breaking stuff,” said the 25-year old. “I would always try and fix things before my parents figured it out. Playing with all those tools was when I started enjoying working with my hands.”

Today, Tholhuijsen uses this curiosity to get ‘in tune’ with his internship as a piano technician at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music. And he gives credit for his ear for music to Western’s Piano Technology Program, which has been training students from around the world for 14 years.

The one-year intensive program has seen students arrive more than a dozen countries – Australia to Ireland, Germany to Cuba – to learn the fine art of piano tuning, repairs and findng that perfect pitch.

Formerly located at Toronto’s George Brown College, the program was revamped and brought to where it belongs – in a music school, said program co-ordinator Anne Fleming-Read. It remains the only piano technology program offered in North America.

“It’s like its own laboratory. This is the perfect location,” she said of the program, tucked neatly in a corner of the Don Wright Faculty of Music Building.

“This is a niche market – and a very small market. There have been several schools throughout the world that are no longer operating,” Fleming-Read said. “Apparently, word gets out you can come here and, in eight months, have what you need to go out and start making a living, and continue your learning.”

With just 14 students in the program each year, Tholhuijsen saw Western as the perfect opportunity for him, despite the fact he was already enroled in a similar program in Amsterdam.

“It was a three-year program. After I did the first half-year, I pretty quickly figured out it wasn’t the right school for me,” said Tholhuiijsen, who quickly began googling piano technology programs. “Western was one of the first ones that popped up right away. The website was good and I got a lot of great information. So, I got in touch with Anne and made my decision.”

Coming to London was delayed as he spent the next year-and-half saving up the $16,000 program tuition. But it was worth the wait, Tholhuijsen added.

“I just wanted to go to a good school and reach my goal of working in the business,” he said. “They teach you the basics of what you’re going to need to be successful. And to be sucessful, you spend on average of 60-70 hours a week in school. That’s a lot of time to put in. But if you do that, there’s a big chance you’ll learn so much.

“They push you to succeed, which is great. My personality needed that pressure.”

Fleming-Read said students appreciate the individual time they receive, with such small classes, thanks to senior technical officer Don Stephenson and resident technician Paul Poppy.

“It allows for a lot of individual and personal attention,” she said. “It’s not just them sitting at a desk. You are working right there with them. You get to see their ‘up’ days, and their ‘down’ days, and respond accordingly. Sometimes, you take risks when you push them harder, but they need to know they can do it.”

While the main program will not be growing, a summer session in Piano Technology is offered to graduates and practicing technicians. A similar one-month program will also be offered for residents of China, an area desperate to educate technicians.

“This will be for those who already have some experience and want to take it to the next level,” Fleming-Read said.

Tholhuijsen joked that despite waiting the year-and-a half to begin at Western, he still graduated before his former classmates in Amsterdam. And a few months into his internship, despite all his training, he admits the learning never stops.

“You are always developing your listening skills,” said Tholhuijsen, who, while not a pianist, dables on the piano. “Everybody has it, everyone hears it, but you really need to develop it, which is why it’s important to put those 60-70 hours in.

“Most people who listen to music will hear different things we hear, as tuners. At the beginning, you barely hear anything, but then you slowly start developing your listening skills and begin hearing more and more. It takes time and, still now, it’s improving for me.”

Posted with permission, Western News

Rising Star

By Joanne Ward-Jerrett 

Iain MacNeil (BMus’13) thought he’d become a music teacher. And then he discovered opera.

At 19, Iain MacNeil (BMus’13) came to Dalhousie intending to train as a music teacher. Instead, opera found him and set him on an exciting new trajectory. “I grew up around music,” says the Brockville, Ontario native, who started piano at age five and quickly moved on to musical theatre, capturing the lead role in a community production of Oliver! when he was 12 years old. “Everyone in my family—even my grandparents—is into music, be it listening to old favourites like John Denver, or making music themselves, singing and playing piano or guitar.”

Encouraged by his high school music teacher and mentor, Judy Quick, MacNeil set his sights on Dalhousie, imagining that he would fit right into the local music scene at this cool, seaside university. “Judy was such a great influence,” he says. “I wanted to be a music teacher just like her. And she thought I’d like Halifax.”

 But it didn’t take long for MacNeil’s career plans to change direction, thanks to the attentions of accomplished mezzo-soprano and Dalhousie voice professor Marcia Swanston. “Until I came to Dal, I had no idea that I could sing classical music, or that I had any aptitude for it,” says MacNeil. “Suddenly, I was exploring this whole world of layered and textured music.”

A natural bass-baritone, MacNeil cut his operatic teeth on Mozart, whose music he describes as “both the easiest and most difficult to sing.” Within months, the teenager was singing opera in Italy, an experience that cemented his future career aspirations.

 Now 23, MacNeil has emerged as one of the rising starts of the inter- national opera scene. “In the last year, Iain has enjoyed unprecedented success,” says Dal’s Swanston. “It’s all rather amazing for a young singer just emerging from undergraduate studies.”

 Highlights of that success include being one of only two Canadians invited to take part in the Young Singers Project at the Salzburg Festival in Austria; being invited to join the prestigious University of Toronto Opera program (he hadn’t even applied); and touring with Carmen on Tap through the United States with Julie Nesrallah. He is currently proceeding through the rounds of the New York Metropolitan Opera competition in the United States and has just been named to the Canadian Opera Companys Ensemble Studio, Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals. “Iain actually came third in the Canadian Opera Ensemble Competition,” says Swanston. “He is the second of only two Dal students who have placed in that competition the fall after graduation, so it’s almost unprecedented.”

 For all his successes, MacNeil is surprisingly grounded. “It’s dangerous to let the music business dictate your life,” he says. “Music and performing demand a lot of emotional energy, so I’m trying to enjoy it; to take the highs and the lows and stay balanced.”

 Reprinted with permission from Dal Magazine, the Dalhousie University alumni publication. To read Dal Magazine, click here