Hayden Dewar, didn’t pursue a career in visual arts for years because he didn’t think he could make a living. Studying opened his mind.
It also improved his skills and gave him the opportunity to work on industry projects that will look great in his portfolio.
Hayden Dewar, always wanted to work in visual arts and illustration. But after leaving school he found it difficult to apply himself. “I wasn’t really proactive in pursuing it as a career, and I didn’t realise it was possible to make a living from it.” Instead Hayden drifted into a career in retail, working in a succession of stationary stores. During this time he also completed several commissions, including a massive mural for Richmond store Dimmeys’ 150th anniversary. “It was a commemorative mural with a timeline of their history including portraits of famous people.” It took him five years to complete. “After finishing that I realised I needed to retrain and update my skills, particularly in terms of digital art and software,” he says.
After searching through courses online, the 33-year-old enrolled in the Melbourne Polytechnic Bachelor of Illustration, where he is now in his third year. Every week students hear from an industry guest speaker, including graphic designers, illustrators and artists. “The course made me realise what’s possible. It’s broadened the vision I had for myself.” Hayden says the degree is developing his skills and giving him the academic grounding he needed. “I wasn’t very well versed in art history. And that really informs what I’m doing particularly in terms of design. My skill level has gone up and there’s more critical thinking involved in my work.”
When he finishes, Hayden plans to concentrate on his main passion, painting, while working as a freelance illustrator on the side, in mediums like packaging, web graphics, advertising, editorial illustration or children’s books. Many of the course subjects have a practical component. For example, students get to design and build a website portfolio that will be finished in time for graduation. They also take part in industry projects, which last year included designing a wine label for the viticulture students. “It was a good experience. We had meetings and presented them with our ideas and designs.”
During the course, Hayden has continued to take on commissions, everything from a portrait for his sister’s wedding to a banner for a youth group. He says the decision to study for his degree with Melbourne Polytechnic has been a good one. “Hopefully I will never go back to working in a stationary store. I feel like I’m on track to have the career I want.”
Bachelor of Illustration