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

NMA 2015 Nominees: Top 7 Canadian Magazine Illustrations

Canada’s National Magazine Awards will be presented on June 5 at the Arcadian Court in Toronto, and among the prizes to be bestowed is the award for best Illustration or Photo Illustration. The finalists were announced on May 4 and include a great mix of first-time nominees and previous award winners.

The Gold and Silver winners will be revealed at the National Magazine Awards gala on June 5 at the Arcadian Court in Toronto. [Tickets & Gala Info].

And the nominees for Illustration & Photo Illustration are…

Gérard DuBois
Gerard is a 3-time National Magazine Award winner, most recently in 2012 for Spot Illustration, and also designed the cover art for the 31st annual National Magazine Awards in 2008.

Gérard DuBois
Learning to Fish
CPA Magazine

Raymond Biesinger
Raymond has previously been nominated for 3 National Magazine Awards for work in The Walrus, Alberta Views and Report on Small Business. This year he won 2 nominations: one for a cover illustration in Precedent, which is also nominated for Best Cover at this year’s Kenneth R. Wilson Awards; and the second which appeared in Reader’s Digest.

Raymond Biesinger
The Well-Oiled Machine

Raymond Biesinger
Stop Shouting!
Reader’s Digest

Pascal Blanchet
Pascal won the 2010 National Magazine Award Gold Medal for illustration, for artwork published in enRoute, and is nominated this year for a cover illustration in the literary magazine Taddle Creek.

Pascal Blanchet
The Orphan
Taddle Creek

Byron Eggenschwiler
Byron is a 5-time National Magazine Award winner. As a rising star in magazine illustration, he won the 2008 National Magazine Award for Best New Visual Creator. Read our interview with Byron in which he talked about the process of creating illustrations for magazine stories.

Byron Eggenschwiler
Best Shot
The Walrus

Min Gyo Chung
Min Gyo is an emerging talent in magazine illustration who is also nominated this year for the award for Best New Illustrator or Photographer for artwork in Corporate Knights. This is his first National Magazine Award nomination.

Min Gyo Chung
Expos Nation
The Walrus

Melinda Josie
Melinda is another rising talent in Canadian magazines and one of three nominees this year whose work is published in The Walrus. This is her first National Magazine Award nomination.

Melinda Josie
Who Will Water The Wallflowers?
The Walrus

Who do you think is most worthy of this award? Leave us a comment or tell us on Twitter: @MagAwards | #NMA15.

You can view the complete articles of all National Magazine Awards nominees at

Tickets are on sale for the 38th annual National Magazine Awards gala, Friday June 5 at the Arcadian Court in Toronto.

NMA 2015 Nominees: Meet the Finalists for Best New Illustrator or Photographer

The 38th annual National Magazine Awards are coming up on June 5 and Canadian magazine creators and readers are getting excited to see whose work will be recognized at this year’s gala.

It’s exciting to see the nominees for our best new creator categories (Best New Photographer or Illustrator and Best New Magazine Writer) as we’re exposed to some of the Canadian magazine industry’s great, emerging talent.

The finalists have been announced and this year’s jury has nominated three finalists for the Best New Photographer or Illustrator award, sponsored by Red Point Media. The winner will be announced at the National Magazine Awards gala on June 5 in Toronto.  [Tickets & Gala Info].

Get to know the three finalists for Best New Photographer or Illustrator:

Hudson Christie

Hudson Christie, A Portrait of the Artist with Testicles in Hand, Maisonneuve

Gifted with a unique style and creative interpretation of the written word, Hudson Christie has been nominated for the Best New Photographer or Illustrator award after his piece “A Portrait of the Artist With Testicles in Hand” appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Maisonneuve. Since graduating from OCAD University in 2014, he has also worked with The New York Times, ESPN Magazine and the Association of Registered Graphic Designers.

This illustrator 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 he technique is a fresh and a unique approach to form. — National Magazine Awards jury

His work combines drawing, sculpting, photography and digital media, which he uses to turn theatrical three-dimensional settings into two-dimensional experiences within a magazine. He offers a fresh, new approach to traditional illustration and has a distinct, clear voice that is hard to ignore. Christie is unafraid to push boundaries or take risks with his work and has proven he can approach provocative subjects with wit and humour.

He works hard to ensure the concept precisely reflects the story and has a natural ability to find the most colourful details described in a piece, and then breathes life into them visually.

Min Gyo Chung

Min Gyo Chung, Under The Climate, Corporate Knights

His sophisticated and elegant approach to illustrating the link between mental health and climate change in the Summer 2014 issue of Corporate Knights is what earned Min Gyo Chung a nomination for Best new Illustrator or Photographer. In addition to Corporate Knights, his work has graced the pages of many other National Magazine Award-winning magazines such as The Walrus, Precedent and Cottage Life.

This entry demonstrated a sophisticated conceptual approach to complex subject matter. The communication is simple and elegant. The content and composition are thoughtfully linked and the image distills ideas to their essential form. — National Magazine Awards jury

Min has been named one of the “100 Best” in Creative Quarterly’s hardcover annual for 2014, graduating from the illustration program at OCAD in the same year. He has won numerous awards including the grand prize in last year’s Adobe Design Achievement Awards and also made CMYK Magazine’s top 100 list of new creatives.

Min’s ability to distill ideas to their essential form and take a thoughtful approach to complex issues help to further distinguish his skills in seamlessly uniting content with composition. His confident and deceptively simple aesthetic of work deceives the audience of his youthful age.

Min Gyo Chung is also nominated in the Illustration & Photo Illustration category for “Expos Nation,” which was published in The Walrus.

Kiana Hayeri
Kiana’s work demonstrates the photojournalist’s instinct to anticipate and frame moments loaded with narrative and meaning, as was shown by her photographs which accompanied the story “Mission Accomplished” in the March 2014 issue of Report on Business. Kiana Kayeri’s photographs, in which she travelled to Afghanistan to shoot, supplement the story of a Canadian cellphone company in Afghanistan.

A young photographer with an old soul. Kiana’s pictures connect beautifully with the story. Alone they could tell a story but alongside the writer’s work they compliment and elevate the story. — National Magazine Awards jury

Since graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Image Arts at Ryerson University in 2011, she has been featured in numerous exhibitions and has an extensive list of awards and achievements. She has held four solo exhibitions, both in North America and abroad, including one at the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression 2012 Gala at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Her work has also been featured in Newsweek, Le Monde, Time Magazine and the CBC.

Kiana Hayeri, Mission Accomplished, Report on Business

Hayeri has documented her personal struggle of a family living apart, as she immigrated to Canada from Iran when she was a teenager. She later returned to Tehran, where she began her career as a freelance photographer. She currently resides in Kabul, Afghanistan where she is available for assignments.

Who do you think is most worthy of this award? Leave us a comment or tell us on Twitter: @MagAwards | #NMA15.

You can view the complete articles of all National Magazine Awards nominees at

Tickets are on sale for the 38th annual National Magazine Awards gala, Friday June 5 at the Arcadian Court in Toronto.

Special thanks to Leah Jensen for her reporting.

Off the Page, with Gracia Lam and the Spot Illustration

Gracia Lam, by Gracia Lam.
Gracia Lam, by Gracia Lam.

Off the Page is a regular interview series produced by the National Magazine Awards Foundation. Today we’re chatting with illustrator Gracia Lam, whose work has been published in Maisonneuve, The Walrus, More, Corporate Knights, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic and others. At last year’s National Magazine Awards, Gracia won both the gold and silver awards for Spot Illustration for two pieces of work published in Maisonneuve, the first illustrator ever to achieve that distinction.

NMAF: The spot illustration holds a special place in the makeup of a magazine. Diminutive, often playful, sometimes underrated in comparison to larger elements of artwork. What do you think makes spot illustration such a fundamental component of a magazine story? 

Gracia Lam

Gracia Lam: I think that spot illustrations are a splash of colour within a sea of text, constructing direction or a break for the reader’s eye. Within a confined space, it is carefully conceived to enhance the content of an article. It assists in the creation of tone and mood, and is used purposefully to amplify a reader’s senses and experience.

NMAF: You achieved an unprecedented feat at last year’s National Magazine Awards, winning both the Gold and Silver medals in Spot Illustration for two different works published in Maisonneuve. The jury awarded gold to your spot illustration accompanying a story called “The Elite Yellow Peril,” which is a very evocative work. What was your creative vision for this piece, and was it created specifically for the text or did you have a broader idea in mind when you created it?

Gracia: I often describe my two-dimensional pieces of illustrations as a short film. In film, the story is narrated through multiple frames and over a time period; my illustrations reveal the climax of a story in one frame.

My vision for the “The Elite Yellow Peril” was to create a connection with the viewer that is immediate and impactful. To achieve this, I created an illustration with imageries and representations as closely related to the text as possible.

NMAF: The article that featured your Silver winning spot, “The Tar-Sands Trap” dealt with the highly controversial, nationally debated topic of the Keystone XL pipeline. As a spot illustrator, how does your level of awareness on the associated story influence your creative process? Before you begin working on an illustration, how does your familiarity with the topic guide your conceptualization process?

Gracia: When working on any assignment, I allow the story to directly inform my creative process from conceptualizing initial sketches to final colourization. During the first read through of the assignment, I take notes and highlight bits and pieces of writing that round up the theme.

For “The Tar-Sands Trap” article, I needed to familiarize myself with specific elements of the story such as its location, the visualization of its landscape and environment, and the pipeline.

When the Art Director gives me complete freedom, I approach the conceptualization process with how I think the mood should be represented—which is to portray the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline as a danger to the community.

NMAF: Your work has appeared in a large number of magazines, including many National Magazine Award-winning publications. Is there a “Gracia Lam” style that is boldly consistent throughout your work in various publications? And what is the process of adapting that style to align with the vision of the art director or of the textual part of the story?

Gracia: My visual language is created using mixed media, combining hand painted and drawn elements along with digital execution. I love to delight the audience with wit by reimagining everyday objects, mundane environments, and familiar situations with visual puns.

The process of adapting that style is mainly through practice. I am grateful that throughout my career I have been given many opportunities on various topics and stories from business and finance articles to science and health stories. These challenges allow me to identify my strengths and edit out my weaknesses, so each project contributes to the gradual tightening and refining of my work and portfolio.

NMAF: You swept the Spot Illustration category at last year’s gala, taking home both the Gold and Silver awards. Before that, you had been nominated three times since 2010. Winning both top spots within a single category is no small feat. Can you describe the difference in transitioning from nominee to two-time winner? What effect have the awards had on your career since last year’s ceremony?

Gracia: I was absolutely blown away by last year’s awards and want to thank the judges who recognized my work. I have always been excited to be nominated alongside many known names in the field—many of which are my peers and idols. The transition from nominee to winner is humbling because winning any award from the NMAs had been a goal. Since the awards last year, I have been working proficiently to improve on each piece to be on top of my own game.

Gracia Lam is a National Magazine Award-winning illustrator, born in Hong Kong and raised in Toronto. She likes to reinvent everyday objects and mundane environments.. To view more of her work visit

Special thanks to Leah Jensen for conducting this interview with Gracia Lam. To view more nominated and winning work, visit the National Magazine Awards online archive at

Check out more of our Off the Page interviews with National Magazine Award winners, including illustrators Byron Eggenschwiler, Roxanna Bikadoroff, Jillian Tamaki and Selena Wong.

The nominees for this year’s National Magazine Awards will be announced right here on the NMA blog on May 4. This year’s awards gala is June 5 at the Arcadian Court in Toronto. 

Illustrator Jillian Tamaki to launch SuperMutant Magic Academy, new book based on webcomic

Four-time National Magazine Award-winning illustrator Jillian Tamaki’s latest book, SuperMutant Magic Academy, hits stores on April 28, and the celebrated artist will appear at the book’s official launch event in Toronto at The Central on Markham Street.

An ongoing webcomic since 2010, whimsical and poignant and delightfully honest, SuperMutant Magic Academy the book is a compendium of the webcomic updated with new material including a forty-page closing story, and is published by Drawn & Quarterly.

Science experiments go awry, bake sales are upstaged, and the new kid at school is a cat who will determine the course of human destiny. In one strip, lizard-headed Trixie frets about her nonexistent modeling career; in another, the immortal Everlasting Boy tries to escape this mortal coil to no avail. Throughout it all, closeted Marsha obsesses about her unrequited crush, the cat-eared Wendy. Whether the magic is mundane or miraculous, Tamaki’s jokes are precise and devastating.


Perhaps best known today for the Governor General’s award-winning book, This One Summer, Jillian’s work has appeared in The Walrus, The New Yorker, More and other magazines. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

In our 2012 interview with Jillian, she talked about the process of building a portfolio as a magazine illustrator as part of a purposeful career path in illustration. “It’s incredibly advantageous to be able to do editorial work when you’re starting out, because it’s one facet of the industry that regularly takes chances on new talent.”

Check out Jillian’s new book and, if you’re in Toronto, join her at the launch of SuperMutant Magic Academy on April 28.

And check out Jillian’s award-winning magazine work at the National Magazine Awards archive.

Sheridan College Graduate Illustration Show: April 16

The soon-to-be graduates of Sheridan College‘s Bachelor’s of Illustration program will present their annual show in Toronto on Thursday April 16, at 99 Sudbury Street.

Entitled “Colour War,” the exhibit promises visual delight and all fans of illustration–especially magazine illustration–will want to check it out. The exhibit will also be available for public viewing on Friday April 17.

More information at Sheridan Illustration.

The National Magazine Award for Best New Illustrator or Photographer

"Top Shelf" (Report on Business Magazine) by The Coveteur, former winner of Best New Illustrator or Photographer
“Top Shelf” (Report on Business Magazine) by The Coveteur, former winner of Best New Illustrator or Photographer

Are you an emerging Canadian magazine illustrator, photographer, graphic artist or digital image creator? Have you published your first major piece of visual work in a Canadian consumer magazine, university magazine or arts journal within the last 3 years? Chances are you’re eligible to be named Canada’s Best New Illustrator or Photographer from the National Magazine Awards Foundation.

The National Magazine Award for Best New Illustrator or Photographer goes to the artist whose early work in Canadian magazines (print, online or tablet) shows the highest degree of craft and promise.

The inaugural winner of this award, illustrator Byron Eggenscwhiler, has been nominated for 9 National Magazine Awards in total, winning 5 times, and his work has been published in Cottage Life, Swerve, More, Up Here, Maisonneuve and elsewhere. Read our interview with Byron about his career.

Another winner, the fashion & beauty collective The Coveteur, have been published in Report on Business, Toronto Life and elsewhere. Read our interview with The Coveteur about their creative work.

Eligible work–illustration, photo illustration, photography, infographics, graphic narratives and digital images–must have been published in a Canadian magazine (print, online or tablet) between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2014, and must be at least one full page in size or digital equivalent, a single or series accompanying an article or editorial package. Candidates must not have published any magazine work larger than one page prior to 2012. The intent is to restrict this award to students and visual artists with a maximum of 3 years’ experience in professional journalism. One entry per person. See the NMAF’s general rules for further information about eligible publications.

Enter your submissions at Submissions may be made by the artist or their art director or teacher. Entrants must complete the online application and submit required hard copies (see below). The deadline for applications including all required hard copies is January 19. The cost to enter is only $25 +HST.


  • Upload a PDF of your work during the online application.
  • Submit in hard copy four (4) sets of original tear sheets and four (4) copies of a letter of reference from a teacher, art director, mentor or colleague which attests to the candidate’s eligibility and provides context for the work submitted. Both the visual work and letter are reviewed by the judges.
  • Pay the submission fee ($25 + HST) by cheque or credit card.

A shortlist of 3 finalists will be announced on May 4, and all finalists receive a certificate and recognition in NMAF publications and at the gala. The winner will be revealed at the 38th annual National Magazine Awards gala on June 5.

$500 cash; plus the right to call yourself a National Magazine Award winner. We’ll interview you on our blog and promote you and your work nationwide.

More information and to submit: 

Don’t forget the deadline: January 19, 2015.