The very first grad class of Surrey’s Salish Secondary was to be welcomed this spring, but the COVID-19 pandemic has ruined those celebrations.
Cloverdale-based artist Cory Van Ieperen was booked to draw caricatures for the school’s dry-grad event, as he’s done for hundreds of other schools over the past couple of decades, but those plans are now cancelled.
“My son goes to Salish, which opened last year, and they only had up to Grade 11 for the first year,” Van Ieperen explained, “because they didn’t want those Grade 12s to be taken away from Tweedsmuir and Clayton in their grad years. So it’s a drag for Salish that in their first grad year, they don’t get to do a proper ceremony and walk across the stage, all that.”
The Surrey-born Van Ieperen has made a career of drawing “Corycatures” of people at weddings, parties, corporate events and other gatherings now outlawed or scaled back.
While studying art in college, he worked his first dry-grad event in 1995 at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary, for $25 an hour.
“I gave it a shot, and a year later I did another one, then it was three and it kept going every year, just snowballed,” Van Ieperen said. “Over the past 10 or 15 years, I’ve been doing 12 or 14 a year, so that’s probably around 200-plus at this time of year, which is usually really busy for me.”
The pandemic has been “devastating” for business, he added.
Accordingly, he’s drawn up plans to create caricatures of 2020 grads based on submitted photos, in an online venture. The digital drawings can include a solo grad or a class of them, in any setting. Details about the two different packages are posted to his website, corycatures.com.
“If they just want the face and a little ‘Grad 2020’ slogan, I do that, and I also have pre-drawn bodies, a variety of them, with as many students in the drawing as they want,” Van Ieperen said. “They’re done digitally and emailed, so they can print them off.”
In another artistic pursuit of his, Van Ieperen is the singer/guitar player for Skookum, a riff-rock band that was booked to play Vancouver’s Roxy nightclub on March 20.
“We’d been rehearsing and were ready to go, and we were ready to hit the studio in April,” he said. “I think it was one or two nights before (the March 20 gig) that all the bars started shutting down, and we haven’t been able to get together to rehearse. We’re trying to see how it’s going to work, and we were supposed to have a new album done by now, ready to go. We have the 14 songs demo’d and ready to hit the studio, and that was our goal for April. Just bad timing for that.”