New blood: Alison Johnstone, our latest illustrator, and designer.

We are very excited to welcome Alison Johnstone to our studio as an illustrator and designer. After spending 2 months with us for her practicum program from Capilano University’s IDEA School of Design program we knew we had to hire her right after her graduation. With additional firepower, we have begun to take on more design-centric work such as branding and more.

We have quite a few new projects coming down the pipeline that we’re very excited to share when ready. In the meantime, check out Alison’s interview and work below.

Alison Johnstone, illustrator and designer and her side kick, Charlie!

During her time with us for her practicum, Alison was thrown into the deep end and worked on everything from package design for a beverage company, stickers for a CBC show, character design for a U.K.-based animation series, a children’s storybook, and much more.

Here’s a short and fun interview with Alison along with a few selected pieces of her art and design work. 

Editorial spread design and illustration by Alison Johnstone.
Animated gif portrait by Alison Johnstone.

Why did you apply for your practicum at Chairman Ting?

At the beginning of my practicum class, my classmates and I  were given a list of 20+ studios and agencies we could apply to. I was a little overwhelmed, to say the least. As I was scrolling through everyone I saw Chairman Ting and remembered that Carson had been a guest speaker at my school. I loved his work, he was really upfront with industry tips, and he was super kind. I went to his website and saw the breadth of his work and immediately knew I had to work with him! I was most drawn to the wide variety of work he did and that’s exactly what I wanted from my practicum, to learn as many different skills as possible in a short period of time.

What was your initial expectation of the Practicum and how did those expectations differ from now?

I was expecting to learn a lot but I wasn’t really sure specifically what. I thought I’d be working just on my own without much interaction with others.  I knew I’d be doing weekly check-ins but what I didn’t realize was those weekly check-ins would end up being the thing I would most look forward to in my week. They were so much fun! As I started working with everyone, I realized how much of a family dynamic there is. I made really strong connections with everyone there. I learned so much about design, illustration, typography, colour, how to conduct yourself in a meeting, etc. The thing I wasn’t expecting was that I’d learn a ton about myself. I learned what my limits are but also that I can go so much further than I ever thought I could. I came into this practicum apprehensive, not knowing what to expect, and I left feeling proud of the work I accomplished!

What did you hope to get out of the Practicum?

My main goal coming into this was to learn something new and to push myself outside of my limits. I wanted to pick everyone’s brains and get as much knowledge as I possibly could!

What have been the biggest challenges working at the studio?

I think the biggest challenge was stopping myself from self-sabotage. At the end of my practicum, there wasn’t as much to do and I felt like I should’ve been contributing more. Because I had more time on my hands, my mind had the space to run around in circles. This challenge ended up being a blessing in disguise as I managed to figure out how to silence those inner voices.

How does your internship experience differ from your classroom experience at  the Idea School of Design?

I was expecting practicum work to be really difficult, but I actually found it a lot easier than school. Schoolwork’s all on you, it feels like every project is a mini startup because you’re coming up with the company, name, brand essence, etc. But at work, you’re taking other people’s brand babies and turning them into something new. I surprisingly felt a lot more confident at Chairman Ting than I ever did at school. This goes to show how well I was trained I guess!

What are your top 3 most favourite types of work at the studio?

Anytime I got to illustrate something, I was walking on air. I loved getting to concept illustrations. I was surprised to see that I really enjoyed the design side of things. I really think I found my calling with design. Lastly, I loved presenting. I got such a thrill presenting my work to clients. I love talking so maybe presenting is my calling

What’s your least favourite type of work at the studio?

Remembering client names. I found it difficult to keep track of everyone and felt really bad every time I’d forget someone’s name when reading emails. This is something I need to get better at for my own future clients!

How does it feel to be the first practicum student to be hired?

I feel really honored and excited. The one thing I have wanted since starting school is to have employment right after I graduate. Even better, I get to work with this amazing group of people who are incredibly kind, helpful, funny, and have only wanted to see me succeed from the moment I met them. I believe the only reason I had a good practicum experience was that I had such wonderful support throughout. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Design and art by Alison Johnstone.
Design and art by Alison Johnstone.
Package design and art by Alison Johnstone.