Interdisciplinary Arts, Media & Design (MDes)
Donica Willis(she/her) is an ambitious, unapologetically and interdisciplinary Toronto-based artist born and raised in North/East Preston, Nova Scotia. The richness of her ancestors, their story, their pain, and their joy runs through everything she touches. At a young age, Donica found her love and passion for art, she was the daughter, sister, niece and cousin that expressed birthday wishes and other sentiments through a homemade card, poem, etc. She spent her youth exploring art in many different ways – from dance, to performance, to portraits and more. High school was a turning point in her life of art where she began to see art in a different light. Unlike before, she began to see art as something that wouldn’t be acceptable to pursue as a career – the typical ‘starving artist’ mentality that we all know too well. With these thoughts, and constant pulls through reality, she began to transition to graphic design. This seemed like the most natural ‘second best’ to art that was within her reach. After graduating from high school at 17, Donica packed up and moved to Toronto, ON where she completed her Bachelor of Technology (BTech) in Graphic Communications at Ryerson University. Upon graduating, she secured a full-time job at the university in the Student Affairs, Storytelling department with a design/web role that she currently still holds. Within her first year of graduating, Donica started her own business based on her freelance work now known as DW Creativ – a creative studio specializing in branding, graphic design and brand consulting. Since, she’s worked on over 700 projects with over 150 clients/brands. With 5 years of building the business and working in the field under her belt, Donica decided to return back to school and pursue graduate studies. She is currently an MDes candidate in the Interdisciplinary Arts, Media & Design Program at OCAD University and is expected to graduate in 2021. Her research interest lies within the realm of decolonization and specifically the ways of which adding a speculative lens to her design practice can create alternative ways of being inside classrooms. Donica wishes to unlearn and challenge her formal design training and in doing so providing the space for discussions around more inclusive futures. She hopes at some point to return back home where she can transform the current long-distance work she does with the community to something on-the-ground.