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A life in pictures: A brief glance at the work of Chantelle Trainor-Matties

Chantelle Trainor-Matties’s vibrant artwork is characterized by bright colours, distinctive linework and an eclectic fusion of digital artwork and traditional painting. Bold and vivacious, Trainor-Matties’s art blends aspects of her Indigenous identity and the rediscovery of her cultural heritage with her life story to stitch together an inimitable tapestry of the life and values of the artist herself.

Speaking with Trainor-Matties, I found her warm, welcoming and very in tune with herself and her work, humble about her accomplishments within her field and still introspective and reflective on her practice and life.

MMIW by Chantelle Trainor-Matties

Do you find creating art empowering? Why or why not? What’s your thought process?

I definitely do. My artwork is literally my entire life story. It's interesting because my Mother actually saved everything I've made, and I have pretty much everything I've made in a little filing folder [that] starts from when I was really young, like kindergarten. And obviously I keep everything up until now, so I literally have my entire life story in pictures, which I find really cool. Like I’m able to go back and find what I’m thinking, what I liked, what I was going through and to be able to have the ability to create imagery about anything that I like is really empowering.

So I’m able to use one passion, art, to share all my other passions, [and] kinda combine everything I love. I’m just so blessed, especially in today's day and age with everything being digital, you know? I just have things sitting here, like little puppets I made when I was four. I'm able to go back and draw this again, and see a couple years later where I've come from. So, it's pretty cool.

When did you figure out you wanted to do art as a career?

𝘔𝘰𝘮𝘰 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘗𝘢𝘣𝘶
𝘔𝘰𝘮𝘰 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘗𝘢𝘣𝘶 by Chantelle Trainor-Matties

Well, I took every art class I could in high school. It was quite a long time ago, might I add. But you know, I would take random commissions here and there, over the years, before I actually got into it professionally. I used it to pay off vet bills, things like that; family and friends would commission me, but it wasn’t anything I could take seriously until many, many, many years later when I found that, “Oh my gosh, I have the opportunity to go to university and see where it could take me there.”

But even then, when I was first starting I was just—I don’t know! Because pursuing art is often discouraged, which is really unfortunate. You know I’ve been talking to people about it. And even when I was back in university, some of my own friends were like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you’re going to art school.” So things like that can definitely give it a bad rep and make people be like, “Oh, I’m not even going to try,” but I think for me the timing worked out really well. Starting it a little bit later, but art [has] always been something that followed me around. And different opportunities would literally find me. So it really [was] like it was something that was meant to be.

You can find Chantelle’s work at or @frettchanstudios on instagram

By Kiran


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