Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design
Year of graduation: 1992
Jennifer Gibson has won awards for her semi-autobiographical series of books about a hearing-impaired teen, as well as for her photography — which has been featured in National Geographic Magazine, among other outlets. She is also a public speaker and a freelance graphic designer who works with authors around the globe to create book covers.
Q: How long have you been working professionally? Can you tell us about your work?
A: I’ve been self-employed and doing freelance work since I graduated in 1993. My major focus at Sheridan was Illustration and ironically, the extra courses I took in photography and creative writing became the most utilized skills afterwards. The intensity of the programs and depth of field of the skills that I learned at college gave me the strength to be able to do my work independently. I was able to tackle large projects on my own with the extensive background I received from college. That led me to explore my other passions, which has since then exploded to new heights. Becoming a published author is a dream come true.
Q: What would you say is your biggest achievement in your career to date?
A: I just recently published Hope, the fourth book in a series about Jessie, a hearing impaired high school student, and I am in the process of working on the fifth one. Sadly, my mother died suddenly a few months ago, and Hope was the last book that she read, which makes this one a truly special edition for me.
I would have to say that meeting the famous Canadian singer, Michael Bublé, is the reason why I decided to go after my dreams. It was a fluke that I met him outside of the theatre prior to his concert in Toronto. I told him that I travelled quite a distance to go to his concert and had sewn the jacket that I was wearing. He came over, gave me a hug, held onto my hand and told me that I looked beautiful. I was floating on clouds for the rest of that night. When I watched him during his concert, I had an epiphany. I realized that he only became successful by working extremely hard and following his passion.
After that experience, I sat down with my mother and told her what I wanted to do. My goal was to write a series of books for teens about a hearing impaired girl that was based on my life. She loved that idea. What is especially notable about this particular novel is that Sheridan is featured in it since the main character goes to college.
Q: While you were at Sheridan, were there any particular professors that influenced you? How so?
A: It was the combined experience of working with many different professors at Sheridan that inspired and influenced many aspects of my life — that includes photography and writing, where I have won many awards. They taught me the value of being curious and willing to broaden my field of knowledge. I continued to take additional courses after graduating which helped expand my portfolio.
Q: Do you have any advice for students heading into your field?
A: My advice to students is to try as many new things as possible, including studying additional courses, to have a greater chance of success and a possible fallback. That’s exactly what happened to me: I ended up relying on my other skills to open more doors and create a new venture.
Don’t be afraid to also pursue other activities while at school. I studied martial arts and played ice hockey during my time at Sheridan, and ended up trying out for Team Canada in both sports. That was an amazing experience and a truly remarkable memory to hold on to after I graduated. Today, I’m a martial arts instructor as well as a Fencer in Foil and Sabre. What you learn in school will stay with you for the rest of your life. I always encourage people to follow their dreams. Do what feels right to you. Most of all, believe in yourself and your talents. You are truly unique.