Claire Dawson, R.G.D.
Co-Founder, Creative Director

A graphic designer and creative director, Claire Dawson co-founded the design firm Underline Studio over ten years ago. Claire’s work has been widely published and honoured with awards from the most distinguished national and international competitions, among them D&AD, the Society of Publication Designers (NY) and the Art Director’s Club (NY). Before co-founding Underline, she received acclaim while working as a creative director at Concrete Design Communications. Claire’s writing on design has been published by Applied Arts and she has curated panels for Canada’s largest design conference, Design Thinkers. She has given numerous lectures on design topics, including for the speakers series CreativeMornings. She has served as a judge for the One Show, as well as many other national and international creative awards competitions. Claire is a graduate of York University, with a degree in fine arts, and as an industry mentor, she advises students of George Brown College’s School of Design.


Fidel Peña, R.G.D.
Co-Founder, Creative Director

Fidel Peña is a graphic designer, creative director and the co-founder of Underline Studio. His work has received numerous accolades from across Canada, the US and Europe, including from D&AD (UK), the ADCC and the Type Directors Club (NY). Fidel gained his early experience working at top design firms in Canada and the UK, including Concrete Design Communications and Pentagram’s London office. Fidel was born in El Salvador and graduated from the graphic design program at George Brown College in Toronto. He has taught editorial design at OCAD University and lectured on design topics in Europe, North America and Latin America. He has been a guest speaker on panels held by the RGD and his writing about design has been published by the magazine Design Edge. Fidel has been on the board of directors for cultural organizations, regularly serves as a juror for creative awards and is an industry mentor for students at George Brown College’s School of Design. Fidel is the former president of the Advertising and Design Club of Canada and is currently the chair of its board.


Kristin Germain O’Donnell
Studio Manager

Kristin brings to the studio ten years’ experience managing projects ranging from brand identity, advertising, environmental design, corporate communications and promotions. She gained six years of her experience in London, England, working with top international brands that hold prominent profiles in the UK, including Rio Tinto, Allianz, AOG, Towers Watson, Bonhams and Land Securities. Particularly adept at a collaborative approach, Kristin is attuned to client needs, coordinates production and maintains a close eye on workflow to ensure that all components are delivered on time, on budget and to the highest quality standards. Kristin holds a BA (Hons) in Communications and Fine Arts from Wilfrid Laurier University.


Mark Neil Balson, R.G.D.
Associate Creative Director

Mark joined the studio in 2015, after working as an art director at the internationally renowned design firm, Atlas, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. There, his work included the redesign of the magazine Elephant, which has been recognized by the prestigious British Design and Art Direction awards (D&AD). Other significant projects have included the rebranding RM5 Concurso Fotolibro, a redesign of Phaidon’s large format art classics series starting with Raphael, Van Gogh and Rembrandt and the design of the materials for the University of Toronto’s $2-billion fundraising campaign.


Cameron McKague
Senior Graphic Designer

Before joining Underline, Cameron worked at Free Agency in Vancouver and House of Radon in Stockholm, Sweden, for clients including Ericsson, Electrolux, Universal Music and Nintendo of Canada. Cameron also spent several years working in publishing, honing his editorial design skills on national magazines and a major daily newspaper. His work has received awards from the Type Directors Club (NY), Graphis (NY) and the Advertising and Design Club of Canada. He holds a Bachelor of Design (BDes.) degree from Emily Carr University.


Julie MacKinnon
Graphic Designer

Julie received a Bachelor of Design (BDes.) degree from OCAD University’s design program. She has shown work internationally with the group Collective Delusion Mass Hysteria, and worked under Toronto contemporary artist Bill Burns. Before joining Underline, she worked as Junior Designer at Hambly & Woolley, for clients including Canadian Institute Advanced Research (CIFAR) and Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP). Julie is an active volunteer for the Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) and the Advertising & Design Club of Canada.


Benjamin Birch
Production Designer

Benjamin is a multi-disciplined, detail-oriented designer with extensive design, layout and prepress experience. He is the key point person at Underline for all technical production issues and maintains close working relationships with each of the studio’s print vendors and web developers. Benjamin has a hands-on approach to learning and believes every problem has a solution. With seven years of experience working for agencies, design studios and print houses, he has obtained a valuable and ever growing skill set and knowledge base. Benjamin is a graduate of Fanshawe College’s Graphic Design program.