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International student: Sakjith Weeratunge

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Kia ora Sakjith.  Let’s get to know you, describe yourself as an artist.

I am from the island nation Sri Lanka. I come from a long line of people with a creative gene and that’s where my innate capabilities stem from.  I see myself as more of a hands-on creative person who likes to bring in the best of all worlds when creating art.

For example, I have a passion to design and create medieval weapons, armour and knives by using different materials. At first, I consolidate my thoughts and ideas on paper by sketching and gradually transforming that raw work to CGI and 3D models to perfect it, visually to get it right from all perspectives.

Sakjith HotArts

Finally, I would play with different materials such as brass, iron, wood, and leather to bring my idea to life. This is the kind of artist I am.  

Do you have a project you are currently working on? 

I am currently working on my portfolio because this is the last leg of my Level 6 Diploma program. So yes, I do have a couple of projects going on simultaneously.

I came to NZ to expand my horizon in the creative field; therefore, I have selected classes to learn and to be that much smarter in many different mediums.

Hot Arts is my favourite and I am currently completing a knife series both digitally and transforming some of it into physical products, whilst experimenting with different materials such as mixing leather to handle to compliment the original concept.  In printmaking, I have a Hoodie series which I am working on. 

Sakjith HotArts2

What are some of the things you enjoyed most about studying at TLC?

In a nutshell, TLC was the best thing that happened to me! TLC taught me to embrace creativity, not just but in leaps and bounds, something that was not evident previously in my creative self.

This emergent phenomenon happened all thanks to my TLC art mentor Dennis Poole undoubtedly.  

Just before Covid I was in a very stagnant place without being able to go forward. I knew I could do more but I just didn’t know how and I was getting really frustrated. So my parents decided to send me to NZ because they knew this was the best hub to learn creativity. Unfortunately for me the pandemic happened. The best option at the time was to focus on studying online, so I joined TLC to follow NZ Diploma in Creativity Level 05 online as a distance learner. It all happened just by chance because TLC was the only institution delivering the NZ diploma in Creativity as an online program with the full NZQF qualification. Never looked back since!Sakjith Printmaking

The autonomous learning, having my very own designated art mentor, steering my creative journey - guiding but without too much influence, pushing but without too much pressure was an unparalleled experience.

I was amazed at some of the creative work Dennis very cleverly drew out of me. He guided me to create a series of vehicle body designs inspired by the movement and shapes of different animals on digital media. This collection really amazed me, he knew exactly how to bring out my hidden talents, which I even didn’t know I had in me.

With the completion of Level 5 online studies, I came to New Zealand last year to complete my Level 6 on campus as a full-time student. This is a different experience altogether.

TLC is an Artist’s Paradise; that is what I like to call this. Starting with the very hospitable faculty I feel at home again. The freedom to explore all aspects of creativity until you know what you’re really good at, without forcing us to run behind a pre designed syllabus. Made it known that I have come to the perfect learning spot; my wings aren’t clipped anymore.

How do you sustain your creative practice, where do you draw inspiration from?

Sakjith Printmaking2

It all began by trying to wear my brother’s shoes. Although creativity came naturally to me I always wanted to do everything my brother was doing. Growing up he was in to origami and video games and then I wanted to do the same, I became a pro and gradually transformed those skills to making props as seen in video games such as ancient survival gear and mediaeval style weaponry (child friendly of course) built out of paper mâché, bamboo, recycled paper, cardboard, and PVC pipes. Today I design similar concepts on digital media using Blender 3D modelling software.

Secondly, my parents' are my biggest strength, they keep encouraging me, especially my father, he always says to push boundaries fearlessly.    

Thirdly, I am a gaming addict, a fitness freak and a conversationalist, these 3 vices are also very things that inspire me to be the best version of myself, yes so you could say that video games, physical fitness and friends also inspire me to sustain my creativity and a balance in life.    

Are your skills and approach to creativity transferable into ‘other’ fields in your life?

Yes, for sure undoubtedly. Today design thinking has taken the front seat in many other disciplines. I feel a creative person has the skill set to look at a problem, visualise it and come up with a holistic solution. It happens with our training, being able to draw ideas having different perspectives and ability to combine multiple mediums to come up with a great product-the end game. My Level 06 programme is also about concept design development, the process where the idea or the products are innovative, marketable, and how much they cost to manufacture. So it's just not one aspect as people would think. We embrace a problem-solving mind-set, team building through collaborative work, because of the freedom we are encouraged to express through art our communication abilities become great. 

Patience, emotional intelligence, and time management are also skills that are part and parcel of creativity. Most importantly we value others’ creative ideas therefore, we learn to respect other views.   

Describe a highlight, a wow moment of a recent work or creative experience?

While working on my hoodie print series I accidentally printed the same design on the old print. That was a wow moment, a happy accident because the old image acts as a shadow of the new print which is a marvel to me. I did not think that was even possible.

Sakjith Hoodie
Why did you decide to enrol at The Learning Connexion and was it a good decision?

This is also another happy accident, Covid lockdown and border closure made my parents look for other options for my higher studies. That is when we discovered TLC, the only place offering NZ Diploma in creativity Level 05 to distant learners at the time. Best decision my parents ever made for me. To explain this better: The very first day I came to TLC to meet (TLC’s International Student Advisor) Maggie, my brother accompanied me, being a multimedia specialist naturally he just could not stop going from studio to studio taking pictures and admiring the facilities offered at TLC. Guess what he told my parents when we went home? “Ammi (meaning mother) now I wish I was a student at TLC”. I don’t want to elaborate too much on this, but he’s got a master’s degree from a renowned design school in Wellington..  I think you get my point.

What advice would you give people starting out at The Learning Connexion and wanting to pursue a creative pathway? 

I think people who have a creative bone and want to pursue a career in art /design or any creative field, must start their journey with TLC. Their foundation must be built by the atmosphere within TLC, meaning TLC is what it is not because of the buildings and studios. It's about the people, the teachers, mentors, the support staff who care for each student’s well-being and growth whilst their students kick start a journey in the creative field. I am talking through personal experience because I unexpectedly felt really sick 5 days after landing in NZ If not for the caring staff, especially Maggie, I would have not achieved any of this.


Sakjith Rose

For students who have already made the decision to join, please communicate, do not be scared or shy to express yourself. No one is judging here at TLC, quite the opposite.

Go to different labs and studios during your free time to watch creativity unfold, even if it's not what you enrolled for.  Use the opportunity, not all design schools offer this freedom we are privileged to have at TLC.        

What are your creative ambitions? Where would you like to be in 5 years?

To be employed as a CGI Artist - designing vehicles and armour for the entertainment industry whilst managing my own small business in a print series for Hoodies.

How have you transformed during your time at The Learning Connexion?

TLC encourages diversity hence, influenced me to listen patiently to ideas, different perspectives and opposing views of students who come from different backgrounds pursuing different areas of study in the creative industry.

I am happy to say that TLC has shaped me to become a very confident individual.


We welcome students from all over the world!

We teach NZQA-approved programmes across many of the popular visual arts and welcome students from all over the world.

We offer the option to study as an International Student from our Campus in Wellington, New Zealand, or from your own home through our distance delivery programme.

If you are interested in finding out more about studying at The Learning Connexion as an International Student, you can visit our International Student information page here or contact our International Student Advisor, Margaret Mundell, by email m.mundell@tlc.ac.nz or phone +64 (0)4 568 0320 or 0800 278 769. You can also contact our Admissions team by emailing admissions@tlc.ac.nz..



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