It was on the advice of his aunt and uncle who had both attended Brentwood that Kayden first set foot on Vancouver Island to explore possible educational options. However, Brentwood didn’t feel like a natural fit and it was at Shawnigan that Kayden ultimately found his place, joining the community and Copeman’s House as a Grade 10 student in 2015.
“Boarding was a big change, but totally worth it,” he says about making the shift from public school in his home province of Saskatchewan to boarding life at Shawnigan. “There’s no comparison in terms of the environment, the range of options and experiences, and the level of care that’s offered.”
Even though Kayden has been drawn to art “since he could pick up a pencil,” it wasn’t until the beginning of his Grade 12 year that he decided to pursue a more extensive formal exploration of artistic learning and expression though a selection of courses including Art 12, Graphic Arts 12 and AP Studio Art.
The catalyst for this pursuit of a long-held personal passion was a campus visit in 2016 from Shawnigan alumnus Brian Cunningham ’90 (Copeman’s). As a Vancouver-based conceptual illustrator, Cunningham designs scenes, characters and props for high-profile films and TV shows, including The Revenant, The BFG and Monster Trucks.
For Kayden, this “Artist in Residence” visit was galvanizing, providing clarity about a potential future career in art, 3D design and animation. Since that visit, he has remained in touch with Cunningham, to whom he has turned for career and industry guidance in planning his post-secondary path.
Director of Fine Arts Vikki Agate and Graphic Arts instructor Maite Urzua have also been instrumental in helping Kayden explore his interest in surrealism while learning the technical aspects of how to encompass the genre in his composite graphic images. With a growing understanding of software such as Photoshop and InDesign, Kayden is increasingly able to bring his ideas to life on screen.
“I like drawing,” he explains, “but creating art using a computer really pushes the boundaries of what you can create: It’s easier to translate your vision into reality and it makes the impossible, possible”.
With confidence in his passion and direction, Kayden has applied to the School of Motion Picture Arts at Capilano University and to Vancouver Film School with the goal of pursuing a career in animation and 3D design. Having gained the technical skills he needs for a head start in his post-secondary training and with the ongoing support of his Shawnigan alumnus mentor, Kayden is several big steps closer to his dream of working as an animation director at a major computer animation film studio.