Q & A with Chris Brodt (’15 BDes)
Students are drawn to the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Arts by many things. Sometimes all it takes is one person pointing another in the right direction. Chris Brodt (’15 BDes) has a particularly interesting story about his journey from catering company to convocating with a Bachelor of Design.
I first met Chris at Running with Scissors, this year’s Bachelor of Design grad show in the FAB Gallery. Gallery manager Blair Brennan had told me about Chris’s unique story earlier in the week and he introduced me to Chris at the show.
Blair’s story about Chris goes like this:
He was delivering for a local caterer and he came to the FAB Gallery loading dock like so many other catering deliveries, but Chris seemed very interested in the show that was on display…. I forget which show it was… [and] we started talking.
The gallery was not yet open to the public in the hours before the reception, so Chris got a private tour of the show, for as long as our time would allow. He was keenly interested in design and said he was hoping to go to school to study it.
I didn’t feel like I was recruiting a student. I just felt like I was talking to someone intensely interested in one of our shows. We talked about the show and the BDes program. I invited him to come back and told him he should go talk to Dawn McLean in our main office if he wanted more information on courses and programs.
Before I knew it, Chris was coming through the front door of the gallery frequently with his Art & Design classes. A small success story for FAB and the Department of Art & Design and, one hopes, a big success story for Chris.
Here is the story in Chris’s own words:
I spent my first year at the University of Alberta in the Faculty of Science, trying my best to succeed in the Biological Sciences stream. Unfortunately, things did not go according to plan.
After my first year, I decided to take some time off and work. I picked up a job at the Upper Crust, catering around the city. One evening, I was asked to deliver food to an event at the FAB Gallery. Little did I know this was the Bachelor of Design Grad Show of that year.
At the time, I didn’t even know the U of A had a design program. During the delivery I met Blair and he was kind enough to give me a tour of the show. He filled me in on all that the design program had to offer and when and what I needed to apply. After speaking with him and seeing the amazing work coming out of the design program, it was a no-brainer. I enrolled into a couple of fundamental art classes and applied to the Bachelor of Design program the following May.
Chris Brodt, Sling Table. Solid American Black Walnut, Solid White Oak, Leather.
Words of Wisdom from Chris Brodt (’15 BDes)
Q: How did you go about preparing a portfolio?
My girlfriend put me in touch with a recent graduate of the design program who was able to talk about his experience in the program and the portfolio application process. He was kind enough to send me his entry portfolio, and to review and critique mine. Though our styles varied, he was able to give me useful feedback and tips to increase my chances of getting accepted. In the end, I trusted myself and my own work and submitted a portfolio I am still proud of today. Recently someone applying to the program e-mailed me and asked for the same advice, so it was nice to pay it forward!
Q: What advice would you give to new Faculty of Arts students?
Try your best to enroll in as many areas/classes of Art and Design as possible. Taking sculpture, graphic design, drawing, etc. sets you up to be a more well-rounded designer in the future. It is through those other classes that you learn to solve problems in new ways, further increasing your knowledge base for your required courses in Design.
One of my fondest memories was taking a trip to Toronto for the Interior Design Show in 2014
A group of us in the design program set off to showcase our work and it was a great opportunity to receive feedback from professionals in the field, as well as the general public.
As it was Design Week in Toronto, we were also able to visit a variety of other shows around the city, getting to meet local designers and artists, and familiarizing ourselves with the impact design has on a larger metropolitan centre.
I think it’s important to showcase your work in as many shows as you can, regardless of your age or experience level. It’s amazing the amount of inspiration you can get from a trip like that. Overall, take advantage of the resources and grants available and go on a design adventure!
Q: What’s next for you?
I’ve been asked that a lot, and truthfully, I am not sure.
Through the design program we learn so many facets of design so it’s difficult to know where my true design passion lies. Currently, I am working within the medical field, which is a service in desperate need of more creative thinkers. Next September I will be moving overseas to try my luck at design in the UK market. Not quite sure how it will go, but I’m excited to try my hand at it!