Toronto Film School’s Chanel Martineau will have plenty of options when she goes to raise a glass in celebration of her latest design project in the new year.
In January, the Ottawa-based Online Graphic Design & Interactive Media student will be whisked off to Montana to toast the launch of the brand new winery whose labels she was commissioned to create – all 14 of them.
“It was my dream contract,” Martineau, 34, said of her partnership with Unleashed Winery.
“The owner is so happy with all 14 labels, that she’s flying me out for the opening. I’m so, so grateful for the opportunity.”
A lifelong mixed-media artist who had her first solo watercolour show at the tender age of 11, the Masham, Quebec native said it was the online portfolio she began building up shortly after commencing her Graphic Design studies at Toronto Film School in 2017 that initially caught Unleashed Winery’s eye.
“The owner reached out to me with a basic idea of what she was going for – that famous painting of the dogs playing pool – so I used that as my starting point,” she said of the five-month project, which she worked on full time from November 2018 to April 2019 whilst also juggling her one-course-a-semester Toronto Film School studies.
“I basically just tried to make the illustrations as animated as possible, as though the dogs were really in the middle of something and you could see the action,” she added, noting that, in addition to the illustrations, she was also tasked with the graphic design elements of the label-making process – from colours and composition, to placement and palettes.
“Every single time I came to (Unleashed’s owner) with these labels, she just loved them. I barely had any adjustments to make – it was really an awesome thing.”
Martineau credits her husband – with whom she formed the bluegrass band Three Moons in June in her 20s – with giving her the encouragement she needed to go back to school to pursue her passion for Graphic Design.
“He always believed in my artistic abilities, and he really pushed me – he basically forced me, actually, but I’ll be eternally grateful, because it’s been such a game-changer for me,” she laughed.
Due to its flexibility, Toronto Film School’s Online Graphic Design & Interactive Media Diploma proved the opportune path for Martineau to expand on her artistic talents, while also juggling young motherhood with a host other commitments, including her work as an assistant to Ottawa’s Sarah Elizabeth Photography.
“For me, it’s been the best choice, because I have a family and because I have a bit of a busier lifestyle than others. So, being able to do it at your own pace, you’re better capable of processing what you need to process, however you learn,” said the mother of two young boys, Lennon, 4, and Caleb, 2.
“Also, being taught by industry professionals is absolutely wonderful, because they’re the ones who are super current and up to date on how things in the industry are moving and where they’re going, so it makes you feel that much more current in what you’re producing.”
A former teacher who once studied to become a therapist, Martineau said a big interest that’s emerged over the course of her Graphic Design studies at Toronto Film School has been learning all about the psychology behind design decisions.
“Human behaviour is so interesting to me – it plays such a paramount role, really, in everything when you’re designing. It’s always about the user – especially when it has anything that has to do with UX (user experience) design or if you’re building a website,” she said.
“So, that’s something that’s kind of really interesting to me right now – and it’s kind of a rabbit hole.”
After graduating from Toronto Film School next year, Martineau said she plans to continue her studies in Psychology at the university level.
“I’ve always been interested in art therapy as a way of combining my two loves – but that’s future-future, you know?”
In the meantime, she plans to continue to seek out more opportunities to share her design talents near and far – be it through her freelance work, in a company setting, or by showcasing her work through written articles like the one she recently had published in Vintage Life, the fifth volume in UPPERCASE Magazine’s Encyclopedia of Inspiration.
And, of course, she’ll be counting down the days till January, when her dog-themed wine label designs will be unleashed on the world.
“Working with Unleashed was such an amazing learning experience – one that really helped me grow in a way that will help me in the future, I think,” she said.