Like many of her generation, Jessie Meyer began dabbling in graphic design in her early high school years. Inspired by the gaming culture, she began creating characters and storylines and posting them online. Today the 26-year-old is having just as much fun with her own graphic design company and is garnering a lot of attention for her work, most recently, a nomination for Graphic Artist of the Year by MusicNL.
And in a lovely twist of fate, Jessie is nominated for work she did for her father.
“I actually laid out an album for my Dad, Dave Panting, who is also nominated for an award – Instrumental Album of the Year. That’s the album I did the art for,” shares Jessie.
“It was his suggestion for me to apply for the award and I used his album as the submission. So this is pretty special.”
The award recognizes the contribution of a graphic artist or company to the development of artists or groups in the music industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.
This isn’t the first time Jessie has been recognized for her work. While enrolled in College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) Graphic Design program, she brought home Gold in Graphic Design from the National Skills Canada Competition in Vancouver, BC, and won an Award of Merit and Award of Excellence for two years running from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). She has also gotten some attention from unexpected sources.
“I do lots of fan art in my spare time, I’m bit of a nerd,” she laughs. “I was posting some of it on Tumblr and one of the stars from the show Agents of Shield
saw it, contacted me directly and asked me to make some buttons to hand out to Comic-Con. That was kind of cool!”
She creates marketing materials for the likes of Opera on the Avalon, the Festival of New Dance and Youth Heritage Newfoundland and Labrador, along with bands and businesses.
Just as her passion for character development led her to design, so did a love of art and music. With her pedigree, it was a natural fit.
“My mother was a career artist and my father is a musician so I come from creative stock,” says Jessie. “It was my mom who suggested I apply to CNA. I loved the program and it just took off from there.”
Indeed, her creativity led to her career in graphic design, but she says it was her time at CNA that poised her for success.
“I feel 100 per cent that the training I received in the Graphic Design program contributed to my current career and this nomination! I think it’s very valuable in honing your skills technically and giving you the knowledge to take your creativity and make it into sellable skills,” says Jessie.
“I really think if you’re excited about the program, the possibilities are endless. You get out of it what you put into it. All of the instructors are really approachable and also obviously passionate about design, so it was beneficial to be in that sort of environment.”
Tara Thompson is another product of our technological age, who taught herself some mad skills in Photoshop at 12-years-old, creating graphics for her Myspace page. Within a few months, the Grand Falls-Windsor native had her first poster displayed at a big provincial summer festival.
“I used to go on my favourite bands’ forums [online] all the time and everyone had these cool pictures in their signatures and I wanted to make my own,” said Tara. “Six months later I had my first poster displayed at the Klondyke Days festival in Bay Roberts.”
Today, the 24-year-old does logo work for clients across the country, designs posters, t-shirts and CD artwork for some local hot bands (see RocketRocketShip, Chris Kirby & The Marquee, and London Above), creates magazine and blog layouts for various web clients, and in 2015 was chosen to do the album artwork for the RBC Breakout Stage album for the East Coast Music Association Awards.
A sideline has also emerged for Tara that is closely connected with magazine and web design – she works for two media outlets writing about and photographing music festivals and shows.
“Canadian Beats is a blog about Canadian music of all genres – I interview musicians and review albums and shows. I do a little bit of design work here and there and photography when I cover festivals/shows,” says Tara.
“Rock Island is a local online magazine/blog that a friend of mine started. I do most of the layout for that as well as write articles and interview bands.”
Music was the catalyst that launched her into graphic design and it continues to play a big part in her career. And so it is fitting that she be recognized by MusicNL with the Graphic Artist of the Year nomination.
While enrolled in College of the North Atlantic’s Graphic Design program, Tara received two Pinnacle Awards from IABC – an Award of Excellence for a logo design and an Award of Merit for photography. She also received an interesting – and unexpected – recognition.
“In 2013, a local magazine called The Scope had a Best of Music Readers Survey, where the album artwork I did for RocketRocketShip's album Your Best Kept Secret
won bronze for best album artwork.”
“It was great to make the top three because it was chosen by the readers and open to everyone. It wasn't just a few options in a poll to choose from, people could submit anything into all the categories.”
She attributes her focus to the training she received in CNA’s Graphic Arts program.
“I've been lucky to work with the clients I have; I think without the program behind me, I'd still just be doing my own thing and no one would ever see it. The instructors are great… and you'll do a little bit of everything in the two years,” says Tara.
“You meet a lot of great people too, and in this field it's good to know people who have different strengths than you.”
Graphic Arts Coordinating Instructor John Barry agrees. He says artists are really entrepreneurs and that networking and experience is key. The program’s mandate is to not only train them with the skills to create their work but also provide them with the tools they need for success.
“Working in the arts is basically an entrepreneurial enterprise. While in the program, I encourage them to take on freelance work,” says Barry.
“We want them used to talking to clients, pricing, planning – the dynamics of working in the field – so that when they graduate, they will feel comfortable. When they are at the step when they want to be their own bosses, they are well on their way.”
Public Relations Specialist
College of the North Atlantic