Name & occupation: Chantal MacDonald, Graphic Designer
Hi there Chantal MacDonald, thank you very much for participating in my Interview Series with illustrators, graphic designers and sign makers from around the world here on my blog.
What year did you start working as a graphic designer.
2006 I officially entered the workforce, although I was doing work prior to that while I was a student.
The first time I came across your name, was actually when I for some reason saw that you had mentioned my name, in a blog article. I remember how I searched the net, and that blog came up. And ever since, really, I have been thinking of interviewing you for my interview series. The blog article was published on Corel Corps official blog. Because I was involved in beta testing and had got to know some people this way, at Corel, I thought it gave me the opportunity to interview someone who design those Graphic Software boxes, I used to see and hold in my hands. These type of designs, mass productions, are made to sell a product, and the designers in my view, are too often never mentioned. Equally I have always, since I was a kid, wondered over who made those designs. And suddenly a product package design, got a name attached to it – yours.
Great blog article in which Chantal MacDonald talk about her work on the packaging design for CorelDRAW X6. ( https://corelblogs.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/create-redecorate-with-coreldraw-x6/ )
One of the very first things I saw you work with, was the design for the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X6, DVD & book package. I really like that box design. It is still close to me, on the shelve, at my home office workspace. So I see it quite often. And I had the pleasure being asked about the design, prior to its release. Felt honoured being asked.
How did that design came about?
For X6 we really wanted the packaging to reflect how powerful this product was, so I designed it in a way that highlighted the iconic CorelDraw balloon and used abstract background textures that were black, sleek and metallic.
Did you design it from scratch? I know that the box for X4 and X5 looked similar, but X6 came out in a different style. And it looks great. There is a sort of Batman feel to it!
Thank you, yes it was from scratch except for the balloon which was an evolution of our existing icon.
What was important for you, as a designer, when you got the assignment to create & plan the design?
I really looked at the big picture and what our campaign was going to be. Not only did we want to show how powerful this product was, but I had the idea to showcase our incredibly talented illustrators and designers that used the product. We had some amazing artwork provided for our CorelDraw contest and I wanted to highlight those pieces throughout our advertising and product itself, not only was it eye-catching and showcase the outcome of the product, but it gave publicity to the artists as well.
Corel Corp is not only a Canadian company, but very much an international company, with users from literally all over the world. Did that very fact play an important role, in the work you did with X6 as a Senior Graphic Designer at Corel.
Certainly, I showcased CorelDraw artwork by artists from around the globe and our advertising and packaging is always catered to the market that it is in.
It is not everyone who get to make these product designs, that reach so many users. Would you say that you yourself, had any preconceptions of how it would be to work with an international company profile like Corel. Or any company of that size.
I have a lot of experience doing international design and have studied semiotics to have a good understanding of cultures and communication, and I actually worked in Seoul for a while as well, so I felt prepared to design an effective package for all Corel’s markets.
Would you say you have the same approach with a client for a small company, down the street where you live and work? If so, what do you think is the biggest difference, if there is one.
It would all depend on the company’s objectives – my process includes a very effective creative brief so that I gain a complete understanding of the company.
I remember reading the blog article at Corel´s blog, that you had just discovered CorelDRAW Graphics Suite – and moving from Mac world to PC world. Is there something in particular, from a designer craft point of view, that you feel you learned from?
I basically had to learn the software and a PC! I learned that amazing illustrations and designs can be produced using CorelDraw and that the software was quite intuitive. I also conquered my fear of PCs, but I am really a Mac person at heart.
What was your first professional design assignment?
I’ll go with my first international design, I was 22 years old and working at a design agency – I developed the packaging for a colon screening test by MedMira. It may not have been the most glamorous assignment, but I created a really successful package design!
I remember the very first illustration assignment I got. It was when I was 21 years old. It was a payed job for a tiny scout club member paper. Printed on a office Xerox machine. It wasn’t much money, but it did pay some lunches and cafe visits.
You probably have quite a few designs you like more than others, for various reasons. Milestones. Is there some design work in particular, that you feel extra attached to? Something that you feel set the design career in motion. Or your own design language being more established within yourself. Your style.
Yes, I did some really great work as a Creative Lead & Arcc Director for Aveda Canada, and in particular was the interior and exterior graphics and design for their locations. To this day, I walk by Civello Salon in Toronto and see my graphics and signage on a major street (Queen St.) and I smile knowing how much I put it into that and how effective it was.
Would you say there is a different way to how you work today, to how it was when you first started out. Business-wise? Both as a freelancer and employed designer.
Definitely, as I grew my career I became more and more involved in the bigger picture. Now, I am a Director of Marketing and I get to develop the strategy and execute it – so I do all the design, writing, social media, advertising, people management, etc. In the beginning, I was working on projects but after completion I was moving onto the next thing, where as later in my career I see the impact and have a greater understanding of the complete marketing cycle.
Do you like myself, sit and work at cafes, to brainstorm etcetera. And if so, do you bring just a sketchbook, pens, or do you bring the computer and a wacom tablet?
I am a bit of a café junkie, but my career path has been very corporate so I don’t always have that opportunity. If I get the chance, I bring my laptop and just immerse in the work.
And lastly coffee. Everyone get this question: Coffee or Tea in the morning?
Coffee, unless a tea latte is an option 😉
Thank you for participating in my Interview Series, Chantal.
Interview by Stefan Lindblad, with Chantal MacDonald, © 2016
More great inspirational read by Chantal MacDonald, on the Corel official blog, Corel Blogs