Off the Page, with Hudson Christie

Off the Page is back! Our interview series with National Magazine Award winners returns this week with Hudson Christie, winner of the 2015 award for Best New Magazine Illustrator, sponsored by Red Point Media. Hudson generously gave us some of his time recently to talk about his winning work, the significance of his award and building a career as a magazine illustrator.

NMAF: Congratulations on the award for Best New Magazine Illustrator. Your winning piece accompanied a story in Maisonneuve called “A Portrait of the Artist with Testicles in Hand,” (itself a National Magazine Award finalist in the humour category; a personal essay about an angst-ridden young man having a scrotal examination). Can you talk a bit about the process of creating that illustration—from your design brief with Maisy art director Anna Minzhulina, your reading of the text, and the actual construction of the sculptures?

Hudson Christie (portrait by the illustrator)
Hudson Christie (portrait by the illustrator)

Hudson Christie: This was my first commission from Maisonneuve, and Anna smartly matched me with a simultaneously silly and dark article. I’m happiest when I get to work with unhappy themes! Illustrating a testicular cancer scare demanded both a degree of sensitivity for the reality of cancer while leaving room for the nervous laughter that accompanies the dodging of a bullet.

For the picture, I wanted to express the way that this event interrupted the author’s everyday life. We went through a variety of sketches until landing on the classic thinker pose, contrasting the humor inherent to banal, contemporary life (in the form of frozen food) with the (conveniently phallic) home decor.

NMAF: Your style of illustration—clay sculptures, painted and photographed, and sometimes animated—is striking and unique. (The NMA jury called it a “fresh approach to traditional illustration” that proves you are “unafraid to push boundaries and take risks.”) When did you start developing this style as an editorial art form; was it while you were studying at OCAD, or even earlier?

Hudson Christie: I started working on this approach during my 3rd year at OCAD. I was really charmed by figurative folk sculpture at the time and was trying to come up with a way to integrate its uncanny geometric features and deliberate colour palettes into my work.

I had some mental hurdles to clear in order to figure out a way of making this inherently three-dimensional medium conform to the framed two-dimensionality of editorial illustration.

A huge personal breakthrough was learning how to use the computer to plot measurements of my dioramas, giving me final pictures which are 90% true to the original sketch.

NMAF: One of my favourite recent pieces of yours was your work for Alberta Venture magazine’s “Best Workplaces” issue (June 2015). Every element seems precise and yet whimsical—the oversized water cooler, the dog dish, the first aid kit, etc—conveying a sense of a scene that is both exemplary and fun. What’s the biggest challenge in working with clay to create an illustration like this?

Hudson Christie: There’s always a bit of randomness that takes control between the sketch and the final props I build. For the Alberta Venture cover, I had to employ a bit of trial and error, changing the angle and position of the figures in order to remove confusing contours.

Lighting is another aspect that’s hard to predict during the sketch phase. In this case, lighting the crowd of co-workers while maintaining a sense of depth where they overlapped took plenty of fiddling.


NMAF: Can you describe your studio and workspace? I imagine a large table littered with discarded clay limbs and eyeballs, dog tails and unicorn horns. And of course a large oven emitting the earthy aroma of baked clay. Is that close to the mark?

Hudson Christie: You’re pretty close! I work out of a bachelor apartment in Parkdale, so it’s instead a fairly small desk that’s covered in tiny clay body parts. I also have a separate table (read: piece of plywood with detatchable Ikea legs) where I set up my dioramas. I use two halogen photo lamps and a DSLR camera.

Replace “large oven” with “toaster oven” and “earthy aroma of baked clay” with “vaguely burnt odor of Super Sculpey” and you get the idea. I use polymer clay for the speed and versatility, even though it’s a lot less romantic than the real thing.

Hudson Christie has a distinctive and clear voice that will attract notice from audiences and designers. He uses wit and humour to address a provocative subject and his technique is a fresh and a unique approach to form.
— National Magazine Awards jury

NMAF: What is the significance to you as a young illustrator to win the National Magazine Award? Has it helped create other opportunities to publish your work, or amplify your work to art directors and agencies? And is there anything new you’re working on at the moment that you can tell us about?

Hudson Christie: Winning a National Magazine Award in my first year out of OCAD was a really huge honour. Being named in the same breath as other renowned members of the Canadian magazine community made me feel like a real contributor to a larger creative goal.

Since my win, I’ve been featured in The Walrus, another Canadian magazine that I’ve been itching to contribute to since I started freelancing.

NMAF: Do you have any words of wisdom for young and student artists and illustrators about making an impact in the world of magazines and publishing?

Hudson Christie: My first real portfolio of ten illustrations was just my senior year-long project, called “Work Life Balance,” at OCAD, which was based around a self-initiated concept that I was really passionate about.

If you aren’t enrolled in any illustration program, I recommend initiating your own series from scratch anyway. A focused series of pictures is one of the best arguments for your intellectual and artistic ability.

Hudson Christie is a National Magazine Award winning illustrator, a 2014 Medallist in Illustration at OCAD, and the recipient of the 2015 NMA prize for Best New Magazine Illustrator. His work has appeared in Maisonneuve, The Walrus, Alberta Venture, The New York Times, Mother Jones and other publications. Check out his creative portfolio at and find him on Twitter @Hudsons_House.

The 2016 National Magazine Awards will open for submissions in December. 

Related “Off the Page” interviews
Roxanna Bikadoroff
, 4-time NMA-winning illustrator
Byron Eggenscwhiler, 6-time NMA-winner and winner of the 2009 award for Best New Magazine Illustrator
Gracia Lam, 2-time NMA winner for Spot Illustration
Jillian Tamaki, 4-time NMA-winning illustrator
Selena Wong, 2-time NMA-winning illustrator

Winners’ Circle to feature panel presentation by leading Canadian magazine professionals

On Wednesday, November 25, the NMAF will present Winners’ Circle, an exclusive learning and networking event. All National Magazine Awards finalists and winners are invited to attend the event at the Spoke Club in Toronto, 5-7pm.

Come join your magazine industry colleagues–editors, publishers, creators and more–for a fun after-work soiree, hosted by the one and only D.B. Scott, president of Impresa Communications Limited of Cambridge, Ontario, consultants to the magazine industry, and also the academic coordinator of the Magazine and Web Publishing program at Ryerson University’s Chang School. He publishes Canadian Magazines, a daily blog about the industry, and is a frequent presenter and awards judge. He was president of the National Magazine Awards Foundation in 1991 and was a founding member of the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors.

D.B. will be moderating a panel discussion called “Learn & Leverage” about how magazine writers, editors and publishers can leverage their National Magazine Award to grow their businesses and careers. The panellists include:

Matthew Blackett
Matthew is the publisher and editor of Spacing, a five-time CSME Small Magazine of the Year (2007-09, 2013-14), and in 2007 he was named CSME Editor of the Year. Spacing has also won 2 National Magazine Awards and has been nominated 15 times, including 5 times for Best Single Issue of the Year, and 4 times for Best Editorial Package.

Penny Caldwell
Penny is the Publisher of Cottage Life and was Editor-in-Chief from 2000 to 2015. Cottage Life has won almost 400 awards, including CSME’s Magazine of the Year for three consecutive years, the NMAF’s Magazine of the Year and a Gold COPA for the magazine’s first interactive digital edition in 2014. In 2015, Cottage Life won the inaugural National Magazine Award for Best Magazine Brand. She has been named CSME’s Editor of the Year four times.

Katherine Laidlaw
Katherine is the associate editor of The Walrus. She has won one silver National Magazine Award and has been nominated for three others. She was previously an editor at Up Here and Reader’s Digest Canada.


Fast Pitch

After the panel presentation, it’s time to mingle and network with your peers. We’ll be facilitating introductions between writers, artists, editors and art directors. If you’re planning to attend and would like to have a chance to sit down with an award-winning writer/artist or an award-winning magazine editor or art director, let us know:

We’re looking forward to welcoming you to Winners’ Circle.

All nominees and winners from the 2015 National Magazine Awards are invited to attend. For guests outside of Toronto participation by teleconference may be available. Contact to RSVP or request more information. RSVP by Nov. 13.

Join Winners’ Circle on Facebook.

NMA laureates Robyn Sarah, Guy Vanderhaeghe win Governor General’s Literary Awards

Robyn Sarah. Photo by Allen McEachern (via Canada Council for the Arts)
Robyn Sarah. Photo by Allen McEachern (via Canada Council for the Arts)

Montreal poet Robyn Sarah and Saskatchewan author Guy Vanderhaeghe, both previously National Magazine Award winners, have been named the 2015 Governor General’s Literary Award winners for poetry and fiction, as announced by Canada Council for the Arts this morning.

The work of both writers and all the other finalists for the #GGBooks fiction and poetry prizes first appeared in one or more of Canada’s literary magazines, demonstrating yet again how important our cultural magazines are to fostering a strong and vibrant Canadian literary community.

In the spring of 2012 Robyn Sarah published a poem in The New Quarterly issue #122 called “My Shoes Are Killing Me (a poem in nine movements),” which went on to be nominated for a National Magazine Award. Three years later, now expanded into a collection of poetry under the same title, Robyn Sarah’s work has won one of Canadian poetry’s highest honours.


Robyn Sarah won the National Magazine Award for fiction in 1993 (for “Accept my Story” in the Malahat Review), and she has also twice been nominated for her critical essays in TNQ.

Two other #GGBooks poetry finalists are NMA laureates. Patrick Lane has won 3 National Magazine Awards for his poetry, most recently for “Arroyo” published in VallumKayla Czaga was a National Magazine Award poetry finalist in 2014, for “Song” and other poems in Arc Poetry Magazine.

Guy Vanderhaeghe was a finalist for the National Magazine Award in fiction this year for his story “Tick Tock” in Prairie Fire. His latest book of short fiction, Daddy Lenin and Other Stories, was named the #GGBooks winner this year, the third time he’s won the Governor General’s Literary Award.

Fellow #GGBooks fiction nominee Helen Humphreys was a National Magazine Award finalist in 2012 for her essay “Natural History” in Queen’s Quarterly.

Read more about this year’s Governor General’s Literary Award winners at

And check out some of this fall’s great writing contests from Canadian literary magazines.

Winners’ Circle: A Special Event from the National Magazine Awards

The National Magazine Awards Foundation is proud to present Winners’ Circle, an exclusive event for National Magazine Awards finalists and winners to meet, mingle, pitch and learn about how a National Magazine Award can be a boost to your career or magazine.

Wednesday, November 25
Spoke Club, 600 King St West, Toronto

The event is open to all National Magazine Awards finalists and winners . For those who are unable to come to Toronto, we may be able to provide teleconference participation.

Guests are requested to RSVP to no later than November 13.

NMAF partners with Indigo Books & Music on national newsstand promotion

Newsstand Promo Sign ENG FinalFor the second year, the National Magazine Awards Foundation (NMAF) is partnering with Indigo Books & Music Inc. to launch a nationwide newsstand promotion designed to increase awareness about Canada’s top award-winning magazines published in both official languages.

With this strategic initiative, made possible thanks to the generous support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation and the Government of Canada, the NMAF strives to provide award-winning Canadian publishers the opportunity to cost-effectively maintain or improve newsstand sales, subscriptions and magazine visibility within the highly competitive North American market by jointly marketing their nationally recognized award on newsstands.

From October 19th to November 29th, this year’s participating award-winning publications will be displayed in a special NMA newsstand frame in 91 Indigo superstores across the country. Magazines taking part in this initiative include 2015 Magazine of the Year winner Nouveau Projet, as well as award winners Canadian Business, Chatelaine, Cottage Life, FASHION Magazine, L’actualité, Maclean’s, Maisonneuve, MoneySense, Sportsnet, The New Quarterly, The Walrus, Today’s Parent, Toronto Life, Vancouver Magazine and Western Living.

The NMAF, whose mandate is to recognize and promote award-winning Canadian magazines and content, strives to implement initiatives that help publications thrive in the evolving magazine industry. With this newsstand promotional campaign, the Foundation is providing publishers with a distinctive opportunity to leverage their prestigious award in order to maximize their impact on newsstands.

This promotional initiative was launched for the first time in 2014. During the four weeks of the pilot project, 3,401 copies of 15 NMA award-winning titles were sold and a number of participating magazines reported an increase in sales varying from 15% to 67%.

The 38th annual National Magazine Awards took place on June 5, 2015. Visit to view the complete list of this year’s award-winning magazines as well as past winners in our free public archive.

The National Magazine Awards Foundation acknowledges the financial support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation. This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada. The NMAF also gratefully thanks Indigo Books & Music Inc. for their generous support of the NMA newsstand promotion. The NMAF would also like to thank CNW Group.


Participating magazines this year include:


National Magazine Awards Guide to Word on the Street

Canada’s largest magazine & book festival–Word on the Street–is coming to five Canadian cities this month, with opportunities for readers to browse great deals on magazine subscriptions, hear inspiring stories from their favourite writers, and go home with a scintillating stack of new reads.

  • Halifax–Saturday, September 19, Halifax Central Library
  • Saskatoon–Sunday, September 20, Exhibitor Marketplace
  • Lethbridge–Sunday, September 20, Main Library
  • Kitchener–Saturday, September 26, Downtown
  • Toronto–Sunday, September 27, Harbourfront Centre


Here are some of the events and speakers we’re looking forward to, featuring NMA winners:

National Magazine Award winning fiction writer Lynn Crosbie will read from the works of fellow NMA winner Margaret Atwood. 12pm at the Toronto Book Awards tent.

11-time National Magazine Award winner Don Gillmor (The Walrus, Toronto Life, Eighteen Bridges) will talk about writing for magazines at the Wordshop Marquee at 12pm, and at the Great Books Marquee at 4pm, along with Evan Rosser, senior editor at Sportsnet magazine.

Novelist Patrick deWitt, winner of the National Magazine Award for fiction (Brick) as well as the Governor General’s Award and the Writers’ Trust Award, will speak at Sculpting New Reads at 1pm and at the Amazon Best-Seller Stage at 3pm.

John Lorinc, 7-time NMA winner for Spacing, Toronto Life, Report on Business and others, will speak about writing on urban affairs at the Nothing But the Truth tent at 5:15pm.

National Magazine Award-winning science writer Alanna Mitchell (United Church Observer) will speak about her new book, Malignant Metaphor, at the Nothing But the Truth tent at 12:30pm.

Hal Niedzvieki, founder of Broken Pencil magazine, will talk about “Trees on Mars” at the Nothing But the Truth tent, 2:15pm.

Check out these National Magazine Award-winning titles at the Exhibitor Marketplace and the Magazine Mews (MM). Word on the Street always brings out great deals on magazine subscriptions, often with gifts and back issues on sale, too. [Map of WOTS Toronto]

  • Alternatives Journal, Booth #206
  • Brick: A Literary Journal, Booth #133
  • Broken Pencil, Booth #MM6
  • Canada’s History, Booth #113
  • Carousel, Booth #MM1
  • ELQ: Exile Literary Quarterly, Booth 185
  • Feathertale Review, Booth #MM2
  • Legion Magazine, Booth #221
  • Little Brother Magazine, Booth #MM19
  • NOW Magazine, Booth #150
  • Ontario Nature, Booth #MM10
  • Owl Kids, Booth #KS23
  • Quill & Quire
  • Shameless, Booth #MM8
  • SkyNews, Booth #184
  • Visitors usually find all kinds of Toronto swag at the Spacing magazine booth at WOTS.
    Visitors usually find all kinds of Toronto swag at the Spacing magazine booth at WOTS.

    Spacing, Booth #157

  • Taddle Creek, Booth #MM5
  • The New Quarterly, Booth #MM4
  • The Walrus, Booth #218
  • THIS Magazine,  Booth #220
  • Toronto Life, Booth #161
  • Vallum Poetry, Booth #LL12
  • Zoomer, Booth #145


Word on the Street, Toronto, is Sunday, September 27 from 11am-6pm at Harbourfront Centre, free and fun for all!


Check out Alberta Views magazine, winner of the 2008 National Magazine Award for Magazine of the Year, at their display booth at WOTS Lethbridge.


Hear National Magazine Award finalist Guy Vanderhaeghe–novelist and short story writer, winner of two Governor General’s Awards–at the Who Has Seen the Wind Tent at 3:45pm.

Check out all the events and speakers at the WOTS near you.

An Adventurous Literary Travel Itinerary (Summer Magazine Reading Series, No. 7)

Your intrepid Mag Awards blogger just returned from canoeing a great long river in Maine, where at dawn the moose pose in water while eating their grassy breakfast, and at dusk either the rain or the mosquitoes force you into the tent where you’re glad to have packed a pile of magazines to read before the ache of a long day of j-strokes puts you to sleep.

Whether you’ve got your feet up at the cottage in a Muskoka chair by the dock, or you’re stormbound in a tent deep in moose-land, summer is even more adventurous with a great magazine travel story.

This year’s National Magazine Awards travel-writing finalists brought us to many exciting places: to India, where tea is born in the Himalaya foothills; to northern British Columbia, on a haunted glacier; to Jerusalem, for a Kafkaesque citrus heist; to Newfoundland, where a cottage by any other name smells as fishy; to Brazil, in angular shadows of modern architecture; to San Francisco, where technology guides the tour; to Nunavut and Chicago and the middle of Lake Superior, all in the service of a literary sense of place.

Our summer magazine reading series continues this week with travel stories nominated at the 2015 National Magazine Awards. Make this your literary travel itinerary before summer sadly ends.

Au paradis des thés

Category: Travel–Gold Medal winner
Author: Marie-Soleil Deshautels
Magazine: L’actualité

Plusieurs critères déterminent si un thé sera ou non un « grand cru », notamment l’uniformité, la brillance et la taille des feuilles. Les meilleurs thés ont une fragrance et un goût jugés fins ou complexes.

Synopsis: An intrepid journey to the heart of India’s tea-producing northeast: Darjeeling, in the Himalaya foothills south of Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain. National Magazine Award-winning writer Marie-Soleil Deshautels explores the cycle of tea production from the seed to the cup to the exportation to Canada, examining the science that is helping tea producers meet new global demand, and the art of brewing the perfect cup. Read the story.

Another great read: The silver medal in Travel went to Eric Dupont for “Vivre à belo horizonte” (L’actualité), an architectural tour of the work of Oscar Niemeyer in Brazil.

Lemon from Sheikh Jarrah

Category: Travel–Honourable Mention
Author: Karen Connelly
Magazine: Geist

“Who took this button off your computer?” It fell off; it broke. “When?” Several years ago. It kept falling off. I just threw it away. “But not here, not while you were in Israel.” No. I was here for just over a week. “Are you sure?”

Synopsis: One of those rare dispatches from Israel/Palestine that doesn’t get tripped up over politics or bogged down by the pro-/anti- arguments, award-winning poet Karen Connelly’s elegantly simple story in the form of a letter to the lone Palestinian woman she met on an official tour of Jerusalem provides readers a fresh and authentic sense of place in an otherwise unfalteringly complex–and at times darkly comical–experience of visiting the region.

Another great read: Dan Robson of Sportsnet won Honourable Mention in Travel for “Home and Really Far Away,” which won the Gold Medal in Sports & Recreation and was profiled in the first edition of our Summer Magazine Reading Series.

Death on a Glacier

Category: Travel–Honourable Mention
Author: Jon Turk
Magazine: Explore

“The air became electric and the hair stood up on the backs of our necks,” Bill told me. “It was one of those moments that don’t dim with time. I can imagine every vivid detail to this day.” The three hunters had discovered the body of that ancient warrior, now known as Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchí — “Long Ago Person Found.”

Synopsis: Fifteen years ago, three hunters travelling around a glacier in the Tatshenshini-Alsek wilderness of northern British Columbia discovered the partial remains of a young native man who had apparently died while attempting to cross a high mountain pass more than three centuries earlier. Now, as scientific analysis has revealed much of the biography of the man posthumously named Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchí, writer Jon Turk joins the hunters as they return to the place of discovery to re-imagine his life and ponder the mysteries that remain. Read the story.

Another great read: Explore magazine also won Honourable Mention for “Across the Little North” by Conor Mihell, an account of a month-long canoe expedition through remote northwestern Ontario.

The Other Fifth Avenue

Category: Travel–Honourable Mention
Author: Lisa Moore
Magazine: Cottage Life

I stop to ask for directions from a man who’s chopping wood. When I say I’m looking for Jen Ford’s place, he pauses and looks deliberately at the horizon. “The Ford place,” he says. “Nope, never heard of it.” He gives the wood chunk sitting on the chopping block a hard smack with the axe. It splits with a loud, splintering thwack. Then he says, “Oh, wait a minute, you mean Phil’s place. A few cabins back. You just drove past it.”

Synopsis: Award-winning novellist and Newfoundland native Lisa Moore takes a rural road trip to the summer “cabins” (don’t call them cottages in Newfoundland) to discover the depth of the islanders’ appreciation for the traditional way of life, revolving around family stories, music, fishing, berry-based cuisine, “corn toss,” and never-ending home-improvement projects that bring entire communities together. Read the story.

Another great read: Cottage Life won a second Honourable Mention in Travel for “Dreamlandia” by NMA winner Charles Wilkins, set in Nirivia, a little-known trout-fishing paradise on an island in Lake Superior.

Bright Lights, Tech City

Category: Travel–Honourable Mention
Author: Andrew Braithwaite
Magazine: enRoute

“I’ve never been here before,” says Arieff. Good words to hear from a professed urban flaneur. Based on a 2009 project to map hidden spaces, SPUR launched the app in 2012. It leads curious explorers to unexpected downtown oases, like this rooftop deck off a poorly signed staircase in the corner of a retail mall.

Synopsis: Canadian ex-pat and NMA winner Andrew Braithwaite serves up five fresh views on his adopted city of San Francisco, visiting traditional tourist hotspots with technology of the sort made famous in Silicon Valley–hiking the Coastal Trail with the latest fitness-measuring gadgets; visiting the Exploratorium with a roboticist; trying out new apps to locate a POPOS (“privately owned public open space”). It’s the San Fran of the future, the city reaching the maturity of its latest techno-boom. Read the story.

Another great read: Andrew Braithwaite and enRoute magazine also received Honourable Mention for “South Side Story,” about the regeneration of Chicago’s post-industrial south side.

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Did you know? You can download and read all of the National Magazine Awards finalists and winners for FREE in our online archive, at

Stay tuned for another Summer Magazine Reading Series edition next Thursday.

Moose photos by Richard A. Johnson.