What is Sheridan’s “Visual Merchandising Arts” Program?

The Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design at Sheridan College includes over 30 different artistic programs, ranging from Game Design to Visual Merchandising Arts. The latter program is less understood, though it has been at Sheridan for over 25 years and teaches very marketable skills.

In laymen’s terms, Visual Merchandising is the art of presenting products in a way that attracts consumers.

The two-year program is made up of four main components:

1.Window displays/prop production

2.Fashion and Product styling – on and off figure

3.Merchandising-Hard and soft goods/fashion and non fashion

4.Two-Dimensional Drawings/Marketing Design

Those who have passed through the B wing at Sheridan’s Trafalgar campus in the past few months have seen first year displays rotating weekly, as students apply their skills to real brands. In the past month, these display cases have been taken over by second year students. Both years have also presented in a floor-to-ceiling display case across from the cafeteria. All students work in both window environments at some point during their two years.

There are about 100 students studying VMA at Sheridan.  Most graduates get jobs as merchandisers, though the skills they learn can also be applied to other trendy skills like home staging. In fact, this industry remained a strong employer through the economic recession, possibly because selling merchandise became even more important in a competitive market.

Graduating students will exhibit their talents on April 9th at their Year-End show. The design and execution of this show is student driven (and guided by instructors) and is built into the curriculum.

There’s Pipe Trouble in Sheridan College (the game, not the plumbing)!

What is that retro-style arcade game in the B wing beside Tim Horton’s? Pipe Trouble is a game produced by Sandbox Productions. The animation is done by a Sheridan grad. You may recognize it from the popular debate it has inspired in Canadian media over the past few weeks for its political message.

Pipe Trouble takes a new spin on the old arcade cabinet form of gaming to address real and current issues surrounding the exploitation of natural gas in Canada. The game takes a critical stance on recent plans between Canada and the United States to build a pipeline for transporting tar sands oil southward.

Tasked with building their own pipeline, players struggle to balance using the least amount of pipe to make the most money against the impact on local environment and neighbouring farms.  On the right, a gas company rep oversees the budget and pushes to create the most direct economical route (every piece of pipe costs money and every second counts). Meanwhile, on the left, a volatile farmer gauges impact on the area and community. Lay too close to the pastures and risk springing a leak that kills livestock and makes people sick. Build through forest or near residences and incite protesters that block your way. Suffer a leak or otherwise incite local outrage and you risk sabotage that could sink the operation! Game over!

Sheridan students and staff are welcome to give the game a try where it is on display in the Trafalgar campus B wing, until the end of next week (April 5th), when it will continue on its journey around Canada. Indeed, many Sheridan students are already enjoying the fantasy life of an oil tycoon on their way to get their morning coffee.

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