By: Alex Quevillon

Gary Concoran, 44, says the pre-animation program is his favourite. He’s in his second year.

For most students, graduating from college is the end goal of a post-secondary experience.

But for artist Gary Corcoran, 44, attending school has been more of a process, as he is now taking his third Algonquin program.

Along the way, he’s worked with countless heavy hitters, building a lengthy portfolio punctuated with Algonquin certificates.

Taking the general arts and science pre-animation course, this is Corcoran’s third time attending the college.

Corcoran’s currently enrolled in the general arts and science pre-animation course as a mature student.  He also took graphic design at Algonquin from 1988 to 1990 and interactive multimedia from 2008 to 2010.

“Algonquin has a really youthful feel,” said Corcoran.  “Being around younger students makes you feel really youthful.  I find it easier to get work done here in the open space they have here.”

As living proof that this college provides more than just a stepping stone for a career, Corcoran has had numerous highlights in an already prolific art career, but still comes back to further his knowledge.

In the millennium year alone, he had a pair of milestones that made him a truly unique artist.

He worked with Corel to demonstrate digital art, the first in Canada to demonstrate it, at the National Capital Fine Art festival.  Later that year, his design for the Canadian Wildlife Federation was put up on display at the national headquarters in Kanata.

“It’s just pure luck that these two events happened in the year 2000,” he said.  “I don’t know how many people have had those two accomplishments, let alone in the same year, and in the millennial year too.  It was just really, really lucky.”

His Canada-wide highlights continued with a pair of iconic national figures.  Corcoran presented hockey legend Guy Lafleur with a portrait he did of him, and while working with Ducks Unlimited, presented Canadian senator Romeo Dallaire with one of his articles of art.

“I’m not really interested (in hockey or politics), but they’re figures where, if I can draw something for them, I’m going to do it.  Maybe it could lead to future opportunities down the road.”

Corcoran also designed art for the Royal Canadian Mint.  His work there was appreciated by fellow employee Anthony Testa, who also believes that he is a unique talent.

“Gary’s great because he can do traditional art, drawing, and visual and digital art,” said Testa.  Not many people can do more than one, they just stick with what they know.”

“He’s a great person to work with, easy to get along with, and you always know what you’re getting with Gary.”

Corcoran’s abilities are noticed by everyone around him.  As his friend for nine years, Doreen Kahale hopes that he can find full-time employment doing what he does best.

“He’s very unique and very talented,” said Kahale.  “When he’s assigned to a project, he’s committed, you know he’ll get the job done.  I really want to see him get a career in art; it’s not an easy field to break into.”

His work has reached all over, collaborating with the likes of Mitel, Capital Style, StageFX, National Defence, Natural Resources Canada, Hemera, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Geomatics Canada, Girl Guides of Canada, Sonovision, Syndesis, Canadian Geographic, and the Green Party of Canada.

Even with these accomplishments, Corcoran’s still stepping up his art at Algonquin.

“This has to be my favourite program of the three I’ve taken,” said Corcoran.  “It just feels great to be a part of the college community.”