Artist Q & A: Chantelle Trainor-Matties

Chantelle Trainor-Matties is a Visual Arts student at UFV

UFV Visual Arts student, Chantelle Trainor-Matties designed this year’s 2020 Student Leadership Symposium artwork, which was centered around the theme of “Empathy in Action.”

Chantelle Trainor-Matties is a mixed media artist, who is set to graduate with a Visual Arts diploma in 2020. She has created a variety of design work for small businesses and clients from around the world.

She currently works as a freelance artist ( for herself and also as an artist for Nations Creations. Some of her latest accomplishments include: the 2019 “Pink Shirt Day” hosted by Nations Creations and the New Student Orientation Symbol for UFV in 2019She recently became international, having her Indigenous artwork sold on merchandise across Canada and Seattle, WA.

Read Chantelle Trainor-Matties’ Q & A below to learn more about her creative process:

Can you tell us a little bit about your process? What materials do you generally work with?

I work on a variety of different types of projects and each one of them is different. When it comes to graphic design or digital illustration, I usually start drawing in Adobe Photoshop on my Lenovo Yoga. If it is going to end up as a vector, I will import it into CorelDraw and if it’s going to be a painting and I didn’t draw directly onto the canvas or panel I will project my sketch onto my surface. When painting I like to use a wood panel or canvas and I’ve found I like to work smaller so I can focus more on fine details. Currently, my favorite paints are Golden acrylics and I use a variety of paintbrushes, usually very tiny ones again for detail. I can also work backwards and do a traditional piece (such as the artwork for the Student Leadership Symposium) and take it from a traditional painting and turn it into a vector.

As for style, I like to be well rounded. Sometimes my work is more relaxed and painterly, sometimes I will paint more realistic. I create Indigenous art and I draw cartoons. I do a bit of everything!

Is there a general theme throughout each of your works or is each piece unique?

I wouldn’t say there is a general theme to ALL my work; however, a lot of my work revolves around the Mustelidae family (weasel family), such as ferrets and otters. I prefer to illustrate or paint animal life in general, but I also like to experiment and again, do a little bit of everything.

Do any particular lived experiences or memories inform your work? Or do you rely more heavily on research?

Both my husband and I have had ferrets since 2012, the year we got married, and they have inspired my work since! Sadly, three of my four ferrets have crossed the rainbow bridge and it has been very hard to cope with as I consider them my children and I’ve lost three due to their health issues. My ferrets inspire me as a person and as an artist, I’ve focused a lot of my work around them and their cousins for many years, and it feels more than right to have them live on in my work. My studio name derives from a combination of a play on the word “ferret” and my first name.

There is still research that must be done when completing a lot of projects, such as exploring a new idea or technique, reading about color and shape meaning, working on Indigenous artwork, working on a commission, etc. Research is a huge part of the art process.

Which necessities do you require when making your art?

Necessities change depending on the project, but if I’m painting an animal for example, I need a good reference and I aim to work from my own (or my husbands) photographs.

For the artwork for the Student Leadership Symposium, I used a photograph of my own face as the reference! I obviously have a preference on materials, but I feel like I could make art of out anything, I have some paintings done with dollar store paint and you wouldn’t know unless I told you! I like to have some good music or a YouTube video playing, a warm blanket and maybe a cold one while I art.

Trainor-Matties designed the 2020 Student Leadership Symposium: Empathy in Action artwork

Your more recent artwork was created for the College of Arts’ 2020 Student Leadership Symposium, which centers around the theme of empathy. Why did you choose this particular color palette and abstract design to represent the theme of empathy?

The color palette derives from a couple of things. First, it is a combination of primary colors, lately I’ve been mixing my own colors from yellows, blues and reds, so it is literally what I had on hand. What you see in the painting is me mixing my own color palette. I thought it would work well to represent a variety of emotions that any human could experience, different colors represent different emotions that the two individuals are feeling. I have worked with some abstract art in my studies here at UFV and I thought a palette painting would be a good fit. The artwork is less representational and more thought provoking. I was inspired by some past UFV posters such as the Art for the SOCA launch party by UFV student Noel Funk that had digital paint strokes. I was also inspired by the google search results for “empathy” as there is an overwhelming presence of images with two persons (one empathizing with the other), and I wanted to put my own twist on it.

To learn more about Chantelle Trainor-Matties, visit her website.