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Chantal's work

Exploring happiness: Chantal Barbour's joyful work and Fashion Art Direction journey

11 June 2018

Degree Show Spotlight series

Chantal Barbour is one of our inaugural graduating class of Fashion Art Direction students. In the lead up to the course’s first appearance in our Degree Show, she discussed her project and experiences on this multifaceted programme.

Chantal is part of our Degree Show Spotlight series that explores the work and experiences of a selection of talented students that will be exhibiting in this year’s show. Want to find out about more people behind the show? Read our previous piece about Interior Design student Tom Noonan

The pursuit of happiness

'The project that I am presenting at the Degree Show is all about happiness and portraying what makes me happy.

I started by trying to appeal to everyone but quickly realised that happiness is so subjective that I would not be able to do this, so it turned into a more personal project than I originally anticipated. I looked at long term and short-term happiness to see how each one differs. I looked into whether, as a young person, I should be striving for short-term happiness and not having to think about the long-term effects of my actions.

However, on contemplation, I realised that what made me happiest was things that have longevity, such as building relationships and a comfortable home. In this project, I chose to depict happiness in a bright and fun way through styling, illustration and photography to give an instant fun feeling, but showing what personally brings me the most happiness.'

Putting on a show 

This year, I exhibited my work in the Grosvenor Gallery alongside the BA Fashion students at the Manchester School of Art Fashion Show. It allowed the public to see the variety of fashion students that attend Manchester School of Art. I curated and installed the exhibition, which was extremely rewarding and gave the students freedom.

Changing perceptions and developing skills

My perception of what Fashion Art Direction is has change a lot in my three years on the course. As it was a brand new course when I started, it was very open to interpretation and I only really stuck to one discipline, which was fashion illustration.

However, over the three years, my skills have developed greatly and I now incorporate illustration, styling and photography into one image to make bright and colourful images.

The most valuable skills that I will take away with me are design thinking and concept development. This course has taught me to take an initial idea, then experiment and develop it in unexpected ways to create work that is insightful and forward thinking.

I have been taught to constantly think about what is current as well as future trends in order to create work that is future facing and innovative.

The thing I have enjoyed most about this course is developing a concept and seeing how it changes and develops through research and investigation to an end production I am proud of.

You can see Chantal’s work at the Manchester School of Art Degree Show from 9-20 June, and you can find out more about her work on her Instagram account @chantal_illustrations.