OCAD University: student life on campus

An insider’s guide to the best campus event, hangover breakfast and more

The 411

Best place to live:
I recommend living away from campus anywhere north of Bloor and west of Bathurst
Best hangover breakfast:
Art students are stoners. But if you find yourself hungover, Our Spot in Kensington has a good brunch.
Best bar for hanging out:
Sin and Redemption has 70 different kinds of beer on tap, but there isn’t a campus pub
Best place for a nap:
On the floor in the “art before 1900” section of the library
If I wrote the school motto:
“When in doubt, spray-paint it gold” (From Rebecca Morris’s “Manifesto for Abstractionists and Friends of the Non-Objective”)
Best cheap lunch:
Sushi in the Grange is 30% off after 3 p.m. and comes with a free miso soup
Favourite campus food:
The burritos from Fiesta in the Grange, or the salad rolls at Ginger
Best break location:
Chill out at Grange Park, the newly renovated playground that looks like it’s made of modern sculptures
Best place to study:
The quiet lounge on the second floor, the ceramics wing, the AGO
Best campus event:
Evening lectures hosted by the faculties of art and Indigenous studies and the writing and learning centre
What surprised me most about the school:
How individual the experience of attending OCAD feels. It requires a lot of personal initiative and questions to figure things out.

PROFILE: OCAD University | Toronto, Ont. | Founded 1876

OCAD U is Canada’s largest art and design university, tucked between Toronto’s Kensington Market, the downtown core and Chinatown. OCAD is on the traditional land of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, Huron Wendat, and Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nations under Dish With One Spoon territory.

Because the university has so few buildings, the campus sprawls into the neighbouring galleries, studios, restaurants and stores. The students are predominantly commuters, which means they hang around campus between classes. Much of the school is composed of communal studios, workspaces and lounges, making it easy to find new friends. Students receive free access to the AGO with their tuition, which is a fantastic perk. It’s a great place to spend time studying, drawing or admiring art between classes.

The faculties at OCAD include art, design, liberal arts and interdisciplinary studies. In first year, students work broadly and are expected to explore subjects outside of their comfort zone. Every student is required to take English, art history, colour theory, drawing, sculpture, and video courses. This is a fun way to meet students in different faculties, and a good way to figure out which major to pursue during your degree. A lot of students at OCAD end up switching majors after their first year because they realize they love sculpture and hate painting, or love art but hate making it.

After Class
OCAD is the only art school in Canada with a colour darkroom—photography nerds rejoice. The university also houses printmaking studios, a Risograph machine, multiple kilns for firing ceramics, weaving studios, and a print shop that binds books for cheap. Through the library, students receive access to Kanopy, a streaming service that is the equivalent of Netflix for art films. There are also seven art galleries associated with OCAD where students and alumni can apply to exhibit their work. There is a zine library in the Learning Zone, and tons of clubs that will train students to use the equipment they need for the work they want.

Local Vibe
Living in downtown Toronto is one of the best parts of attending OCAD. Some students choose to hang out in Chinatown and nearby Kensington Market where the food is cheap, the streets are lined with fruit stands, and anyone who is anyone wears camouflage pants. Other students choose to live with their parents in the Greater Toronto Area and commute to school. For students considering living downtown, the vibe can be overwhelming and it can be hard to feel well rested. But there are ways of escaping in the city—biking along the water to Cherry Beach or taking the ferry to the Toronto Islands.

More Info
OCAD’s student press publishes Broadsheet, a publication for student articles, opinions and research.

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