NSCAD students launch new online gallery

Creative team gives annual art book a more professional look

The creative team behind the new Free Latte website and this year’s Free Coffee book includes, from left to right, Merle Harley, Sam Moss, Amber Solberg, and Jack Wong. (Photo: Lauren Hughes)

A group of students from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design have launched a new website to feature the artwork of their peers.

Free Latte was started as a companion outlet to Free Coffee, an annual book of student art published by the university’s student union.

“The two reasons we’re doing this is, for one thing, just so that students could see what other students are doing because…our disciplines are kind of separated,” says Jack Wong, a third-year NSCAD student and a member of the creative team behind the art book and website.

“The second reason we’re doing it is to address the concerns the school has had with our presence in the community.”

Student artists are occasionally featured on the university’s main website, but Wong says the online content is limited.

Free Latte is a Tumblr website where students can post projects they’re working on, as well as their completed works. The hope is that artists from different disciplines and who go to different campuses will be aware of what other students are doing.

“One of my experiences in printmaking is how isolated the departments were,” Wong says. “I’d like to see a lot more work from other places in the school and that’s what motivated me to get involved in this.”

Free Latte’s homepage features artwork by students, projects on the go, and a call for submissions to Free Coffee. (Photo: Lauren Hughes)

Third-year art history student Annie Kierans hasn’t uploaded any art to the website yet, but plans to soon. She thinks the project is a smart one, saying, “I’ve checked it out a few times and think it’s a great idea to have a place for students to post their work or works-in-progress.”

“It’s neat to know what everyone is working on,” Kierans says, adding, “It’s more about getting feedback and recognition in the NSCAD community.”

Unlike Free Coffee, which has been published for the past few years, the new Free Latte also creates a venue for film artists to post their work. The book allows for photo stills, but the website allows students to actually upload their videos for full viewing.

Amber Solberg, a fourth-year student who is involved in creating the book and the accompanying website, believes her interdisciplinary education reflects the theme of Free Coffee and Free Latte, saying, “It brings everything together.”

The creative team consists of about 10 students, which the group hopes will allow for more perspectives and for more knowledge about what each department needs from an online gallery.

They are also looking to track down past issues so that the books can be archived online and in the school’s library.

Free Coffee’s background

The website was inspired by the art book Free Coffee. The compilation of student work is an annual publication that has had a variety of looks in the past.

The new creative team wants to take cues from last year’s book, which had a more professional appearance than previous zine-like issues.

“(The book) used to be very handmade, put together,” says Sam Moss, a member of the group who wants to focus on the design and layout of the book. “You could see the work of the hand put into it.”

Jack Wong’s work-in-progress was posted on Free Latte, but isn’t something that would be published in Free Coffee. (Photo: Free Latte)

Free Coffee is open to submissions outside of the work artists do in school, but Wong says the book has the spirit of NSCAD.

The students in charge of this year’s publication are looking to hold a launch party once the book is published and hope that the public would be interested in attending. The event will hopefully promote the presence of NSCAD students in Halifax.

Merle Harley is a third-year student who has extensive knowledge of printing and book-binding, which makes her an asset on the Free Coffee team. She agrees that improving the public’s perception of the work they do at the school will be beneficial to the success of NSCAD’s artists.

“I’m really excited about making (the book) more professional and actually like an artist catalogue, instead of having a zine thing like it’s been in the past,” she says.

Harley speaks for the whole group when she discusses the aspirations they have for Free Coffee, saying they would like to “show the variety of work that we do here and how amazing it is, and to put it together in a beautiful book that people want to keep and look back on and be inspired by.”

Submissions for Free Coffee are due for Nov. 30, 2012 and the book will come out in January. Artists are encouraged to post on Free Latte everyday.