Comox Valley artist expands horizons with digital design department at North Island College – Comox Valley Record


Submitted by NIC

North Island College alumnus Marlee Pestell is entering the world of branding and design with digital skills that will enable her to work from anywhere in the world.

Pestell was no stranger to art and creativity before enrolling in NIC’s Communication Design Diploma Program.

The Emily Carr University of Art + Design graduate had previously earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, as well as a Studio Art Diploma from Capilano University. And she had also carved out her own niche as an artist, selling watercolor and acrylic paintings to clients on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, in addition to a day job. for a Vancouver ceramic studio.

But Pestell discovered that something was missing in his career.

“I’ve identified as an artist most of my life, and my mom is an artist, but it wasn’t until I started at NIC that I realized there was a bit of a disconnect with the the way I do art. “

“I was creating art that was pretty, but I wanted something more determined,” she added.

Pestell discovered this “something” a few years later. While working at the Comox Valley Art Gallery, she was impressed by the design work of one of her colleagues, a graduate of NIC’s DIGITAL Design + Development department.

“I found myself drawn to this type of work,” she said. “That’s when I realized I needed to learn Photoshop and the rest of Adobe Creative Suite and coding and everything,” she said.

Pestell enrolled in the NIC Communication Design Diploma in 2018. When she and her classmates graduated last spring, they entered the industry armed with the tools essential to thrive in the industry. .

Pestell also learned to use apps like Sketch, Invision, and WordPress, as well as work with HTML and CSS coding.

As part of her final project at NIC, she designed a complete branding package for the fictitious company Jungle Vodka, including packaging, logos, branding guidelines book, media, and e-commerce website design. .

“When I was in the program at NIC I realized there was all this world to explore and it was pretty awesome,” she said. “Before taking the program, I hadn’t even noticed how much design influences our world. And now that I know what bad design is, I can’t see it and want to help.

The graduates of the Diploma in Communication Design went on to work in the fields of Communication and Graphic Design, Front-End Web Design and Development, User Experience Design, etc.

Pestell said the nature of digital design and branding means working collaboratively with others and being able to do so from anywhere in the world – at night during a global pandemic.

“Going into a career that can be done online is a huge thing,” she said. “I have the freedom to work where I want, to travel where I want. As long as I have Wi-Fi, I can create.

Now she is passionate about pursuing a career in branding and design to tell customer stories.

“Even though I still identify as an artist, I think I’ve always been a designer,” she said.

NIC DIGITAL Design + Development 2020 graduates are currently displaying their work as part of a virtual graduating exhibition, 2020 Visionaries. Visit to find out about Pestell’s work and profile.

Applications are open at the start of the academic year for the Diploma in Communication Design and NIC’s other DIGITAL Design + Development programs.

To learn more, visit



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