Hi! I’m Danielle. I’m a graphic designer who graduated from the Advertising program at Durham College. I also studied Journalism and figure drawing.

I'm a very calm, levelheaded person who enjoys live theatre, thriller movies, and musicals.

In my spare time I can be found tatting, digital painting, or marathoning television shows.

I'm going to prattle on about my entire life, feel free to jump to a section that you'd be more interested in.


Early Life        High School        Journalism       Advertising        Web Design        PaleDanielle


Early Life

This is just an excuse to show how adorable I was

I grew up near Toronto in a small town that quickly became much larger. Some parts of my hometown stayed farmlands while other parts grew into a bustling mini-city. I think this is why I’m at home in both quiet rural settings and among the foot traffic and congestion of big city life.

Photograph of one and a half year old Danielle MacDonald colouring with her dad, using pencil crayons in a Disney colouring book.

Colouring with Dad

Growing up I was a creative child. I went through crayons and colouring books like crazy.

I spent my childhood drawing and colouring. My dad would take me to the library the next town over (as they had a much better selection than our local library) where he would borrow out for me a variety of drawing books that peeked my curiosity. I would bookmark the pages I really liked and either he or my mom would photocopy those pages. As a result I now have a binder full of copyright infringements step-by-step drawing guides.

While in grade school I was always drawing and relished Art class, however it wasn’t my favourite class. I liked the learning environment of school and was good a good student. Turns out I tested at a gifted level at a young age. I like to think little Danielle was a child genius.

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High School

The longest four years of my life

In high school I was drawn to the Liberal Arts and considered becoming an Anthropologist. What I didn’t know was that would require a lot of digging around in the dirt all day in some undeveloped country. That was not something I had any desire to do. I don’t even go camping. My idea of “roughing it” is eating chicken off the bone. I’m pampered.

Obviously I had to come up with another career path. I was an Honours Student, I had a 90 per cent average in most of my classes so I didn’t have to be worried about not being accepted into the program I chose. If I only knew what to take.

Whenever I had to do a class presentation I enjoyed making the poster board. I’d design several layouts and choose the one that had the best flow and visual balance. Magazine and newspaper layout seemed like the natural choice.

I picked up the course book for the nearest college because I absolutely did not want to live in a dorm. The school offered three programs that would grant me a career in layout design: Advertising, Graphic Design, and Journalism. I contemplated these choices. I quickly crossed off Graphic Design because it sounded too much like art classes and not a lot of career paths, plus it needed a portfolio interview and I didn’t take art through high school because I didn’t agree with how the art teacher didn’t enforce assignment due dates. The one art class I took I spent the last 2 months with nothing to do because it was “catch up time” and I had finished everything when it was originally due. Long story short, I had no portfolio work or the proper credits to get into the Graphic Design Program.

It was between Advertising and Journalism. In the end I selected Journalism because I thought it would yield more job opportunities and because I had the highest-grade average in my grade 12 Writer’s Craft course. That must mean I was good at writing right?

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Journalism

I spent so much money on textbooks I never even opened

Wrong. I was good at writing fiction, I found news articles insanely difficult and dry. I sucked at Journalism and it brought my self-confidence down.

Lucky for me this program had Photography and Photojournalism courses and I found I was excellent behind the camera and grasped Photoshop quickly. In March of that year I bought a small drawing tablet, something I had wanted for a few years, and photo editing was such a breeze after that. I was even learning how to draw with it too.

In my second semester I had a class called Pagination, where I was not taught how to smile and wave atop a parade float (sounded like pageant). Pagination was the layout design course that I was looking forward to and the reason why I chose to study Journalism in the first place. Turns out I am a natural pro in InDesign and at one point I was shocked when the teacher took me aside and told me I had the highest mark in the class. I knew I was doing well, I had no idea I was doing the best.

I finished my first year of Journalism and thought if I did it once I could suffer through year two.

On the first day of second year my peers and I gathered in a large lecture hall to listen to the teachers outline upcoming assignments and the amount of stories we had to write per week and the number of people that had to be interviewed for each story. It felt like I was standing with my back to a firing squat and hearing shot after shot go off beside me. I had to get out of there. I didn’t know what I was going to do, just so long as it wasn’t journalism.

After what felt like the longest bus ride home full of quiet contemplation intermixed with stomach turning panic I decided to go into Advertising, something I should have done in the first place.

I don't see Journalism as a waste of time (and money) because I did learn a lot from it. It was my introduction to Mac computers, Photoshop and InDesign, and photography. There was quite a bit of knowledge I gained from that course that I put into practice. It taught me the importance of Canadian Press style, and the memories of illegally downloading music in class while learning copyright laws.

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Advertising

Return to the Honour Roll

Switching to Advertising was the best decision I’ve ever made. There wasn’t a single day I dreaded getting up and going to school. It seemed I was naturally good at design work and made Honour Roll and even got some of my work up on the Wall of Fame. The classes were more hands on and interactive than what I was used to and forced me to open up and be more outgoing.

I furthered my knowledge in Photoshop and InDesign and added Illustrator to my repertoire. I built newspaper ads, CD covers, designed websites and built an entire magazine among many other things that would take too long to list.

I learned about sales techniques, marketing, promotions as well as media production, technical design, and creative applications; everything I needed for a strong base in media buying, account management, and creative services.

I even learned Flash and Dreamweaver and was shocked that I understood web development considering I avoided it at all costs in high school. I never figured I would ever need to make a website. The irony is almost painful.

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Web Design

My mom thinks I’m a computer hacker

The web course that was offered in the Advertising program was extremely basic. There were about five classes set aside to learn html and CSS, it only taught the bare minimum needed to put a site online. Everything was built and sliced in Photoshop then coded in Dreamweaver. All text elements were jpeg images of text. I didn’t like this because it wasn’t “correct” and I found out how to properly code text. I’m going to assume teaching margins and padding would have taken too much time and that’s why we weren’t taught it.

I do not consider myself to be a web developer by any stretch however when I redesigned my website I did not limit my design based on my coding abilities. I knew if I planned for what I could do, it would result in a very lame looking site. Instead I designed as if I was going to hire a professional to put my site together and I didn’t worry that I was creating something that was too advanced for me. When it was time for me to code I did have some difficulties, but I always found my solution in an online forum somewhere. The result is that I learned quite a lot and I didn’t have to compromise on my initial idea.

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On PaleDanielle

“A Whiter Shade of Pale” plays softly in the distance

On most social media sites I go by the name of Pale Danielle. Upon meeting me it’s easy to understand why I go by this name. Most people ask me if I’m feeling unwell, as that would explain my ghostly pallor. There is a chance that I might actually be slightly allergic to the sun. Curse you Scottish-English genes! I went through several school years of teasing before I embraced the paste. On the upside it was always easy for me to be sent home from school. All I had to do was tell the school secretary I felt sick and she would call one of my parents to tell them I looked ill and ta-da, I was sent home. Eventually my parents caught on.

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