An artsy year in review

Peak writers look back on some of the projects they took on in 2021

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A pale wooden work station. On the desk: a keyboard, laptop, router, and lightning bolt lamp. On the shelves above: plants, books, chargers, headphones, a camera lens, and video game console. Fairy lights hang in between the shelves.
Find inspiration for your next creative endeavour. Photo: Vadim Kaipov / Unsplash

By: Tamanna T., Staff Writer and Alex Masse, Peak Associate

Tammy:

Podcasts

Photo courtesy of Soundtrap / Unsplash

For the past few years, podcasts have grown in popularity. Interested in how the process works, I decided to make one of my own. During the summer, I started a book review podcast which focused on my favourite fiction novels of the year. At first, it seemed fun I talked my heart out into a microphone for an hour, and I thought there was nothing I would need to edit. But as soon as I played the audio back, I gasped at how patchy I sounded! I almost instantly hated the sound of my voice recorded, and I despised the editing process even more. It took me at least three hours of editing to make sure the podcast ran smoothly and the topics were interesting — I had to cut out large chunks of me just ranting. 

If you want to start your own podcast or if you’re interested in the process, do your research beforehand and expect the work to require significant time and effort. In the end, I gave up on my dream of having a famous podcast channel because I couldn’t handle everything that came after the recording, but it was a fun learning experience.

Wall hangings

Photo courtesy of Jonny Caspari / Unsplash

In spring, back when classes were still online, I found the art of making different wall hangings on Pinterest. It seemed like something that would occupy my free time and perhaps become my creative outlet, and that’s exactly what happened. I started with making simple paintings on tiny canvases. Then, I added a hook on the back, and hung them all across my room. Next, I printed some pages from my favourite novels and made collages with them. I framed them and hung those as well. I also made collages of Marvel characters. 

By the end of summer, my room was filled with wall hangings that contained my passions and every time I looked at them, I would get happy. Wall hangings are easy to make and require minimal effort, so it is a great hobby to take up during the upcoming winter break. You could even make some for the holidays and gift them to friends and family.

Alex:

Accidentally becoming a designer

Photo courtesy of Theme Photos / Unsplash

It all started when I was attending a workshop for my communication major. It was for co-op prep and I remember one of the speakers mentioned how much of an advantage extra skills — SEO, coding, and design — are on your resume. I’d always been fascinated by design, though I never saw it as something I could pursue. I wasn’t great at drawing. Of course, I also didn’t mind the idea of padding my resume.

My work in design started small at first. I had fun prettying up my social media, and occasionally designed posts for SFU Poetry Club as part of the executive team. Then, things escalated. I ended up volunteering at QSpeak, a national queer youth outreach organization. That was surreal — not only had I picked up something that had intimidated me, but I was designing content for a cause I cared about! 

I ended up using those skills in my first co-op term, where I helped design newsletters, social media content, and so on. It surprised me how fun and intuitive design could be. I’m a very visual person, and I love using rules and limitations — such as having to reflect a specific brand — as a way to breed creativity. For years I thought my fear of drawing meant I couldn’t design. Boy, was I ever wrong. What sealed the deal was when I officially declared my publishing minor. Now, I’m learning my way around Adobe and building up a proper portfolio.

The little zine that could

Photo courtesy of @sfu_wewerehere via Instagram

One of the best things I’ve done with SFU is putting together We Were Here, We Were Queer, a zine for queer SFU and FIC students. It started as a brainchild of several students at Out On Campus, specifically those who attended WriteOUT, a weekly queer writing group. Somehow, we ended up talking about making a zine within SFU, a space where queer students could tell their stories in a safe, accessible, and supportive environment. A space that would capture queer history as it was made, because we’re so often erased. It was the kind of thing you’d spitball but never expect to see come to life. 

Except then it did. 

We got funding through the SFSS. Enough to not only pay editors, but artists that submitted work too. Because yes, when we put out a call for art, we actually got submissions. People wanted to be in our odd little zine! We even had a full-on launch party, with an open mic and a giveaway. It was amazing — more than I ever thought a bunch of starry-eyed queers would pull off — and it gave me friends and community I’d feared I’d never have in university.

This was only our first issue. There’s no telling what 2022 could bring. In the meantime, you can read We Were Here, We Were Queer for free on our website.