A Creative Future for B.C.

Justine Brooks jewellery | BCBusiness
Graduates from Emily Carr, such as jewellery designer Justine Brooks, are providing a significant boost to B.C.’s creative economy.

Successful graduates of Emily Carr University fuel the growth of B.C.’s creative economy

A festive atmosphere reigned over The Comeback 2013 alumni weekend at the Emily Carr University for Art and Design in late September. The school celebrated the success of past graduates who have laid the foundation for future growth.
In January, the B.C. government announced an investment of up to $113 million in a new facility for the Emily Carr University, recognizing the creative community as a key driver in the provincial economy.
In 2012, an alumni survey determined that the employment rate for Emily Carr grads had risen from 86 to 92 percent over the previous six years—a time of global recession when jobs were lost in other sectors.
“Our economic footprint is greater than people know,” says Emily Carr associate vice-president, Advancement and Alumni Affairs Broek Bosma. “I went to San Francisco in March and there were alumni well-positioned at all of these major corporations that are basically leading the digital revolution: Apple, Google, Pixar, Twitter, Facebook, EA Games—you name it.”
Of the more independent-minded alumni, 29 percent have started their own businesses. “Many are one-person shops, but some grow much bigger.” For example, “Simon Chang is a grad from many years ago. He has a women’s fashion design house in Montreal and is now in Asia as well.”
Part of The Comeback celebration was a PechaKucha talk featuring distinguished Emily Carr alumni, including Whistler-based entrepreneur Justine Brooks. A 2006 B.F.A. graduate who designs jewellery inspired by items found in nature, Brooks credits Emily Carr’s art history education with helping to separate her from her peers.
The critiques in her coursework prepared her for dealing with retailers: “It allows you to get used to removing yourself from the work a little. You learn to be less defensive and take it more constructively.”
The school’s larger campus at Great Northern Way will allow Emily Carr’s enrollment to double to more than 3,400 students by 2030. The accompanying increase in graduates is projected to grow B.C.’s important creative sector from an annual GDP of $100 million in 2015 to nearly $800 million over the same timeframe.