Learn more about some talented ArtWorksTO alumni, the work they created in the program, and where they are now.
Maria Pineros, Designer and Illustrator
Now an established designer and illustrator, Maria Pineros was diving into freelancing on her own before participating in ArtWorksTO in 2018. This program offered insight throughout every step of the way, from communicating ideas, and implementing feedback, invoicing, writing a proposal, and sharing ideas. Maria completed two projects during her placement, one with Shelter and Housing Support Administration creating pamphlets that contained resources for youth at risk of homelessness, and another for Parks, Forestry, and Recreation which resulted in a community mural, of which Maria designed the display component and the illustrations which were inspired by five words provided by the City: accessibility, Indigenous rights, diversity, welcoming (immigration) and Toronto.
Maria said she learned a lot about collaborating with each division, and that it was interesting to work on two different projects because the components and deliverables were so different, even within the city. The divisions had different dynamics and offered varying levels of creative freedom and structure through their guidelines and requests. When asked about what she gained from the program, Maria said that “as creatives, we are not always taught professional development skills but it is so important we learn about this element of being a professional creative. Part of the program includes being able to communicate your process with your clients, and knowing how to be assertive when we need to regarding budget, tool limitations, requested edits, and much more. I also feel more confident in replying to RFP’s. Now, I feel very confident writing proposals, and as someone for whom English is not my first language, my ability to talk about my work and skills has brought me to another level of confidence. Getting used to the process helps you learn how to talk about your skills and sell yourself, as well as communicate the advantages of giving me the opportunity compared to someone.”
Maria is currently a full-time designer and Illustrator with over six years of experience managing the branding, communications, and marketing needs of social enterprises, non-profits, government agencies, and start-up organizations. She was hired as a freelancer to design the creative materials for ArtWorksTO: Skills for a Creative Future (2020).
Mike Regis, Film Director
Mike Regis credits ArtWorksTO with building his confidence and excitement to work on media art projects. ArtWorksTO has helped build Mike's experience in working with clients through a process that, as he states it: "includes people who care about your growth as an artist… As a BIPOC person in this industry, it's harder to get opportunities."
Mike is currently working on a video for the Toronto Youth Job Corp program and a public education campaign on the City's complaints process for the Confronting Anti-Black Racism strategy. After successfully completing short videos for the City's Youth Week events, Mike succeeded in getting additional contracts with the City and the LAMP Community Health Centre. Mike concludes: "I'm so grateful to ArtWorksTO for really giving me my start. The program is such a great training ground to get work, and it makes me feel good about myself too."
Dwayne Holness, Founder, Corex Creative
@dukeydukez & @corexcreative
"ArtWorksTO changed my life," says Dwayne Holness, founder of digital media production company Corex Creative. Dwayne credits ArtWorksTO with changing his approach to business: "As a person of colour working in the production world, it's hard to stand out and get that type of contract… Before ArtWorksTO I was having a lot of doubts as an entrepreneur… ArtWorksTO had a light bulb effect on me, and showed me that I'm capable of." Dwayne was a participant in the first round of ArtWorksTO, completing graphic design and videography projects for Urban Planning and the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy.
His first ArtWorksTO contract was his biggest at the time, and according to Dwayne "It was a milestone in my success and gave me an opportunity to look at my company, talk to clients, set deadlines and organize myself to make sure the work was getting done at its highest production level." The work also gave Dwayne an opportunity to bring in a team, which gave him experience with delegating tasks and creating excitement within a team. Dwayne's successful ArtWorksTO projects opened the door to more work within the City, including video production for Toronto Employment & Social Services and Solid Waste. Dwayne is currently working full-time on Corex Creative, with a mission to create a bridge between the community and corporate worlds. Through this work, Dwayne has been able to travel the world and has completed videos for major clients including Lauryn Hill, Baskin Robbins, TD Bank, and Participation, to name a few. Dwayne continues to mentor young creatives and is a current member of the ArtWorksTO Advisory Committee.
Anthony Gebrehiwot, Founder, XVXY Photo
Anthony Gebrehiwot, the founder of XVXY Photo, is a self-taught photographer, community leader, and social entrepreneur who describes photography as "an ongoing dialogue of social change between subject and society." As a former participant of ArtWorksTO, Anthony (aka "Tony") was awarded with professional contracts at a young age, building his experience in how to navigate those opportunities.
Tony completed ArtWorksTO creative and event photography projects for ActiveTO and YouthTO. His work with ArtWorksTO provided him with further experience in preparing for meetings with clients, giving presentations, negotiating, and talking with clients about their needs and what he could provide. He states that his work with ArtWorksTO provided him with "respect as a young professional." Tony found that his success with ArtWorksTO projects opened the door to working with other City of Toronto clients: "If you do a good job, you gain a reputation and get connected to other opportunities in the City." Tony is busy creating professional and creative projects through XVXY Photo and has been able to provide subcontracts for other young photographers through this work. Tony is currently working with the City and Scarborough Arts on "Scarborough's New View Photo Contest." He also has a new exhibit at U of T Scarborough called "From Boys to Men, the Road to Healing". Tony recently shot the "Desire Lines Project," a campaign for RBC and Vibe Arts highlighting emerging artists. His clients have included Nike, Hudson Bay Canada, Nuit Blanche, Afrochic Festival, and LinkedIn.
ArtWorksTO 2018 alumni Dymika Harte is the Founder and Creative Director of UNSGND a women-led graphic design and branding agency. Dymika founded UNSGND when she was only 18 years old while participating in an incubator program with the support of a mentor.
Her technical training is a combination of self-taught and skills honed during a graphic design program at George Brown College. In 2014 she won first place in the George Brown Youth Start Up Hub pitch competition.
Her favorite ArtWorksTO project was creating a promotional video for the City of Toronto Protegée Program, where her team interviewed past participants and city councillors. When asked about how the program helped her grow professionally, Dymika said the biggest learning curve was practicing time management, as well as establishing clear communication, boundaries and professionalism with large clients has helped UNSGND continue to grow. These larger-scale projects elevated her portfolio and demonstrated her ability to work on high- level projects, which was beneficial even to UNSGND's target demographic of small businesses. Since completing the ArtWorksTO contract, Dymika has established a long-term relationship with Toronto Community Housing and has done 5-6 projects with various TCH divisions since.
Dymika’s advice for emerging media artists is to take advantage of mentorship opportunities. Her points of contact in ArtWorksTO mentored her throughout the project and they are still in touch as collaborators to this day. Dymika is passionate about creating opportunities for young BIPOC women in the industry, and is currently giving back to the community by offering mentorship through UNSGND where she mentors independent contractors as they develop their own brands. She is also launching a new tech company, Clutch in December 2021.