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Designing Honour

Alumni Feature

CAT Grad Designs the Canadian Army’s New Patch 

Centre for Arts and Technology grad, David Fenoulhet during his time in the Armed Forces.

Recent CAT Graphic & Web Design grad, David Fenoulhet has a unique story. After spending nearly 12 years serving in the Canadian Army, David made a “tactical U-turn” when he decided to pursue a new career as a Graphic Designer. Now a successful working designer, David jumped at an opportunity to design a new patch for the Canadian Army! We couldn’t pass on the chance to ask David what this process was like for him as both a designer and former army member.  

Fit for (Design) Duty

Q: David, we’ve featured you before on our social media, but we’ve brought you back to chat about your latest project for the Canadian Armed Forces! Can you tell us how this project came to you? 

A: My old classmate, from when I went to the Royal Military College, who I did my thesis with was just finishing his tour in Kosovo and reached out. He was speaking with the incoming commander, LCol Andrew Vandor, who was looking for a design for his rotation’s patch and recommended that I could help him out. After getting on a video call, I got to speak with them while they were there, and it seemed like a good fit, so we moved ahead with the project. 

The Creative Process

Q: Can you walk us through your creative process for developing the patch? 

A: This was a bit more informal than the process I do with say a logo or website, but I essentially went through a condensed discovery session with them during our first meeting. Asking questions about styles, colours, and particular imagery he (LCol Vandor) wanted to see. He gave me great boundaries, essentially letting me know the patch needed to incorporate the NATO symbol, their Roto (rotation) number of 30, and something to represent both Kosovo and Canada. He also wanted something clean and minimal – in other words not too busy. Other than that, I had a lot of creative freedom to try things out.  

I knew I wanted to try and incorporate the maple leaf and Kosovo country border (which is shown on their flag) together somehow so I began experimenting with ways they could be integrated together. I landed on the negative space cutting into the bottom of the maple leaf with the six stars (again from the Kosovo flag) set above this. I also played around with classic emblem / shield borders as well as a little more unconventional spear / arrowhead one that I thought would stand out from anything done in the past.  

With about four concepts created digitally, I then reduced it down to what I thought were the strongest two. I created some mockups of what they could look like and emailed them off to see which they’d like best. They decided to use both because they liked them so much and had one made in the tactical version and the other in full colour. 

Q: Were there any specific design elements you believed were essential to include in the patch design? 

A: I knew the NATO symbol, the number 30, a Canadian maple leaf, and some element of the Kosovo flag was needed. Other than that, I did some research to learn about some of the conventions of patch making – bold is better, good colour contrast is important for legibility, and to beware of thin black lines. Most of these apply to logo designs too but I was extra careful that the manufacturers would be able to make these easily and that they looked great from digital to textile. 

Q:  Were there any special considerations provided by the Canadian Army you had to incorporate into the design? 
A: To distinguish the patch from other rotations (groups of deploying soldiers), it was important to highlight the number 30 for them. 
Q: What do you hope the patch will evoke or inspire in those who wear it as part of their uniform? 
A: Combining the two nations’ symbology into one was done to represent the peacekeeping nature of this mission – a bringing together of soldiers and personnel from both countries. Some of the mandates of Op KOBOLD are to provide security for the country and deter any renewed fighting in Kosovo by Yugoslav & Serb forces as well as support international humanitarian efforts there.  

A Full Circle Moment

H3: A Full Circle Moment 

Q: Why was this a project you wanted to take on? 

A: This was a ‘come full circle’ type of project for me as I am a veteran myself and was in the Canadian Army for almost twelve years before switching careers. Also, I come from a military family and my father actually deployed to Kosovo in the 90’s when I was a young kid. So this was a really cool project to be a part of and made me reflect on those years growing up in a military family, my own career as a soldier, and the new and exciting career in graphic design that I’m trying to create for myself. 

Knock Knock. Who’s there? Artificial Intelligence! 

Q: Moving away from the patch now, what current graphic design trends really excite you as a designer? 

A: Well, I think the biggest thing on the mind of all designers these days is AI. I’m already trying to incorporate these tools into my practice as much as I can into the web design side of my work such as the generative expansion option for photos which has made it so much easier to incorporate even poorly framed images into my designs. It’s also allowed me to completely isolate foreground objects and then generate a seamless background for them which has allowed for some really eye-catching parallax effects on some websites I’ve been working on. AI is a way off from completing something like this patch design and they make pretty bad logos right now, but I am trying to remain optimistic and excited about all of the fun stuff it could help enable us designers to do as a tool, rather than seeing it solely as something that will replace our positions. 

Words from the Wise

Q: Any words of advice to share with up-and-coming designers? 

A: To keep it to one thing, I would encourage you to understand your OWN learning process while at CAT and embrace becoming a lifelong learner. In the past few months, I’ve had to learn a completely different web design software; Figma, after Adobe XD looked like it might be permanently shelved. As well as diving into these new AI tools like Chat GPT and Midjourney to stay ahead of the curve on these things. Our jobs are constantly evolving, like most peoples’, but because ours involves technology it does seem faster than most. 

The Future is Calling

Q: What projects do you have on the horizon? 

A: Right now, I’m working on a big revamp of my own website (, which was the very first website I ever designed and built while I was at CAT. So, I’m excited to finish that and release it, incorporating the things I’ve learned in the last few years since graduating. 

The Many Faces of Design and The Road Ahead

Thanks for such an informative interview, David! Your insight into the creative process of designing the patch was very eye-opening. Your work with the Canadian Army is a great testament to the wide spectrum of career possibilities as a graphic designer, and we can’t wait to see where your design journey takes you! Make sure to check out more of David’s work on his Instagram (@davidfenoulhetdesign), LinkedIn, and website 

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