Nicorene Stassen

VANAS Alumni

Concept Art Diploma

Thanks to Vancouver Animation School and its teachers I found confidence and a sense of belonging through my Concept Art.

Can you tell us a bit of your art background prior to Vancouver Animation School?

The first knowledge and experience I gained in art before I studied at VANAS came from having Art, Design and EGD (Engineering Graphic and Design) as subjects in high school. I drew a lot as a child and continued to do so as I grew up. After high school I learned how to use Photoshop through following YouTube tutorials and quickly became proficient in it.

VANAS alumni Nicorene Stassen
Nicorene Stassen Concept Art student artwork

What were your motivations to take the program?

After I had finished high school, our family moved to a pretty isolated town. With the nearest accredited university now being 6 hours away, I decided to rather study online from my home. I wanted to learn how to code so that I could create applications and games. I took a few online classes on coding and though I did learn a lot, I felt that it wasn't truly making me happy. I decided that I wanted to go down an artistic career path, to create art for video games, animation, storybooks and comics. I searched online for courses that could put me on that path and then I came across VANAS' website. There were a lot of other schools that offered online courses too but I chose to apply at Vancouver Animation School because I have a long-standing plan to relocate for better business opportunities. Since VANAS is accredited, it increased my chances of successfully doing so. I also chose to apply because the teachers are industry professionals and because I wanted to be in a class with fellow students. Funnily enough, I was the only part time concept art student that applied at the time so I wasn't actually in the same class as any other students. (On the bright side, this gave me undivided feedback and teaching from my teachers!).

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Nicorene Stassen Concept Art student artwork

How has VANAS helped you?

Thanks to Vancouver Animation School and its teachers I found confidence and a sense of belonging through my art. I've learned so much, not only in terms of technique and constructing compositions but also how to add atmosphere and emotion to give life to any artwork. I've also gained new insights and perspectives from my teachers while working on assignments. It's made me realize that I want to work among other artists more than to work remotely. It's really amazing what a bunch of creatives can come up with when we put our heads together.

Can you mention some A-ha! moments during your education?

I don't know if I had many "a-ha!" moments. I did however have a lot of "Oh, wow!" moments. Most of them happened when the Concept Art teachers showed me new functions and techniques in Photoshop that completely blew my mind.

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Nicorene Stassen Concept Art student artwork

How do you compare your art skills before and after VANAS?

My digital art skills were at a beginner stage when I started studying at VANAS. I had a good grasp on perspective and design psychology from what I learned in school but I was lacking when it came to anatomy or producing clean and uncluttered pieces. I can say with certainty that my knowledge (and ability to apply said knowledge) of designing people, places and things have increased to a point where I can sit back, look at it and say "That's pretty cool-looking." instead of shrugging and saying "Good enough". Seeing as how we are our own biggest critics, it really is great when you can be happy and content with your own work.

What was your favorite class/topic (why?)

I honestly enjoyed everything. But thinking back, I think I really enjoyed learning anatomy the most. The technical aspect of set breakdowns was also a lot of fun for me.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I'm really happy that I got to study at Vancouver Animation School and I'm very grateful to my teachers for their wisdom and encouragement. If I ever end up taking a trip to Vancouver, I'll make sure to stop by VANAS and say hello in person.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Learn more about our program:
Concept Art Diploma