Announcing the nominees for the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards

The NMAF is excited to announce the nominees for the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards, including five finalists for the prestigious Magazine of the Year Award.

Nominations Website
Nominations List (PDF)
Gala Info & Tickets
Version française

This year, 197 Canadian magazines from coast to coast to coast—English and French, print and digital—entered the best of their editorial and design work to the National Magazine Awards, submitting the work of more than 2000 writers, editors, photographers, illustrators, art directors and other creators.

The NMAF’s 112 volunteer judges have nominated a total of 202 submissions from 75 different Canadian magazines for awards in 25 written, visual, integrated and special categories.

“We’re thrilled to announce the nominees for the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards. More than 200 Canadian creators—writers, photographers, illustrators, designers, poets, and more—are up for awards in 25 categories. My thanks to our judges who have done a rigorous job over the past few months evaluating the best work in the country. It’s been a significant year for Canadian storytelling, as the impressive caliber of the nominees attests. We’re looking forward to celebrating the best of Canada’s creative talent together at the Gala on May 26.”
Nino Di Cara, President, NMAF

Gold, Silver and Honourable Mention awards will be announced at the Arcadian Court in Toronto on May 26, at the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala. Gold Awards in Writing and Visual categories include a cash prize of $1000.

Tickets are on sale now. A limited number of tickets for nominated freelancers will be available at the discount rate of $35, thanks to the support of our Table Patrons.

TOP NOMINATED CREATORS

  • Edmonton freelance writer Omar Mouallem leads all creators with 4 nominations for 4 different stories published in 4 magazines (Avenue, Hazlitt, Sharp, University Affairs).
  • Writer Richard Kelly Kemick is nominated 3 times—twice in Fiction and once in One of Kind, which he won last year—for stories in 3 magazines (Geist, Maisonneuve, The New Quarterly).
  • Quebec writer Catherine Perreault-Lessard is also nominated 3 times for 3 stories published in Châtelaine, L’actualité and Ricardo.
  • Maclean’s writer Nancy McDonald is also nominated 3 times for 2 different stories.
  • The Walrus writer/editor Katherine Laidlaw is nominated twice as a writer, and she is also the handling editor on 6 other Walrus stories nominated for National Magazine Awards.
  • Other writers nominated twice include Bruce Livesey (Report on Business), Jason McBride (Canadian Art, Toronto Life), Mark Pupo (Toronto Life), and Nael Shiab (L’actualité).
  • Illustrators Byron Eggenschwiler (Vancouver Magazine) and Gérard DuBois (L’actualité) are each nominated twice.
  • Photographers Peter Ash Lee (Corduroy), Chris Nicholls (FASHION Magazine) and Virginia Macdonald (Air Canada enRoute) are each nominated twice.

Check out all the nominees on our special anniversary website or download the PDF.

MAGAZINE OF THE YEAR

The five finalists for Magazine of the Year—given to the magazine that most consistently engages, surprises, and serves the needs of its readers—are:

  • Cottage Life, published by Blue Ant Media
  • Explore, published by My Passion Media
  • Nouveau Projet, published by Atelier 10
  • Ricardo, published by Ricardo Media
  • The Kit Compact, published by Star Media Group

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BEST NEW MAGAZINE WRITER

The five finalists for Best New Magazine Writer—given to the individual whose early work in magazines shows the highest degree of craft and promise—are:

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TOP STORIES OF 2016

The 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards honour the best in Canadian magazine journalism from 2016. Some of the most frequent topics that our judges saw among this year’s entries include:

Among this year’s nominees, some of the top stories include:

  • Justice Is Not Blind” (Maclean’s)—a nine-month investigation by Nancy McDonald and the Maclean’s team looking at the ways in which Canada’s justice system is biased against Indigenous people. Nominated in Longform Feature Writing and Investigative Reporting.
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  • Company Province, Provincial Company” (Report on Business)—journalist Bruce Livesey’s investigative profile of the Irving family and the politics of New Brunswick’s energy sector. Nominated in Longform Feature Writing and Investigative Reporting.
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  • The Fighter” (United Church Observer)—a stirring portrait of Willie Blackwater, a B.C. Indigenous man who survived a residential school and then led the fight for justice, written by journalist Richard Wright. Nominated in Longform Feature Writing and Profiles.
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  • Love Your Body” (NOW Magazine)—a series of bold photographs by Tanja-Tiziana accompanying a set of profiles on the issue of body shaming. Nominated in Portrait Photography and Best Words & Pictures.
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  • Whatever Happened to Michael Bryant?” (Precedent)—writer Daniel Fish investigates the life and times of the former Ontario Attorney General, whose involvement in the killing of a cyclist led to PTSD, years out of the spotlight, and finally a path to redemption. Nominated in Professional Article and Profiles.
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  • Canada’s Best New Restaurants” (Air Canada enRoute)—the annual guide to Canadian culinary innovation by Andrew Braithwaite and the enRoute team is nominated in Service Journalism and Best Editorial Package.
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  • Shocking Tax Tips You’re Missing Out On!” (MoneySense)—the annual tax guide by Bryan Borzykowski and the MoneySense team is nominated in Service Journalism and Best Service Editorial Package.

TOP NOMINATED MAGAZINES

FIRST-TIME NOMINEES

Magazines nominated for their first National Magazine Award include:

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The NMAF gratefully acknowledges the support of the Government of Canada, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Ontario Media Development Corporation. We are also thankful for the support of Access Copyright, Alberta Magazine Publishers Association, Bookmark, Canadian Media Guild, Canadian Writers Group, CNW, ExpertWomen.ca, Goetz Storytelling, Impresa Communications, Rolland Enterprises, Studio Wyse, TC Transcontinental Printing, and Very Good Studios.

For sponsorship enquiries please contact NMAF Managing Director Barbara Gould at staff@magazine-awards.com.

GALA TICKETS

The NMAF will welcome Canada’s top writers, artists, editors, art directors, publishers and other creators to the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala. Gold, Silver and Honourable Mention awards will be announced at the Arcadian Court in Toronto on May 26. Tickets are on sale at magazine-awards.com.

A limited number of tickets for nominated freelancers will be available at the discount rate of $35, thanks to the support of our Table Patrons, including Access Copyright, Bookmark, Alberta Magazine Publishers Association, Canadian Media Guild, Canadian Writers Group, CDS Global, and ExploreWomen.ca.

Gold winners in Writing and Visual Awards categories receive a cash prize of $1000. Silver winners receive an awards certificate. All other finalists receive Honourable Mention.

CREDIT CHANGES

The deadline to make any changes to nominations credit is Friday April 28. Email staff@magazine-awards.com to make any credit changes to your nomination.

Download the complete list of nominations (PDF) to check your nominations credit.

ABOUT THE NMAF

A charitable foundation, the NMAF’s mandate is to recognize and promote excellence in content creation of Canadian print and digital publications through an annual program of awards and national publicity efforts.

The Foundation produces two distinct and bilingual award programs: the National Magazine Awards and the Digital Publishing Awards. Throughout the year, the Foundation undertakes various group marketing initiatives and professional development events.

Nominations Website
Nominations List (PDF)
Gala Info & Tickets
Version française

Penny Caldwell to receive 2017 Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement in Canadian Magazines

The NMAF is proud to present the 2017 Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement to Penny Caldwell, publisher and vice-president of Cottage Life Media.

Penny began her career in magazines as a freelance journalist, writing for sports and boating magazines at a time when it was rare for women to cover those topics. In the summer of 1988, a spirited new publication called Cottage Life debuted, and Penny was tapped to write a feature for the inaugural issue about how to buy a windsurfer.

“There’s no doubt about it,” wrote Penny in the opening lines of her first Cottage Life story, “those hot, lazy days of summer are better at the cottage—and best when you can spend most of your time in and around the water.” She still feels that way.

From her modest start as a freelance writer, Penny began to develop and hone the panoply of journalism and leadership skills that she has come to embody today. In 2000, she was named editor-in-chief of Cottage Life, where she quickly earned a reputation as an editor of considerable passion and frequent praise. In her 15-year tenure as editor, the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors named her its Editor of the Year a record four times, while Cottage Life won Magazine of the Year at the National Magazine Awards in 2003 and again in 2014.

“The hallmarks of Penny’s style are conscientiousness, diplomacy, and kindness. There are never any questions she won’t take the time to answer. No matter how tight the deadline, there is always time to adhere to the tight standards she sets for herself and inspires in her colleagues.”
Cottage Life Media CEO Al Zikovitz

Consistent with the evolving roles of a modern magazine leader, Penny was named brand manager and later vice president of content strategy and development before assuming the mantle of publisher in 2015, succeeding Al Zikovitz. That year, the NMA jury named Cottage Life Canada’s Best Magazine Brand for demonstrating a level of innovation that sets the standard for the industry and represents how a magazine can succeed beyond print with dynamic and thriving extensions.

“As a publisher, Penny has demonstrated her adaptability to changing circumstances and serving readers across multiple platforms. This includes print, digital, television, e-commerce, and live events.”
D.B. Scott, magazine consultant and publisher of Canadian Magazines

Today, Cottage Life reaches over six million Canadians every year as perhaps the savviest magazine brand in the country.

Beyond the walls of Cottage Life’s old cozy HQ at 54 St. Patrick Street in Toronto, Penny has made an indelible mark on the wider magazine industry as a mentor, teacher, volunteer, and advocate for a stronger magazine community. She was a member of the original Magazines Canada task force that developed the industry’s advertising-editorial guidelines, and has sat on the curriculum development committees of MagsU and MagNet.

“Penny’s insights and thoughtful contributions have always put the interest of readers first. Her calm, cool, and collected demeanor informs her success as an editor and publisher.”
Patrick Walsh, editor-in-chief, Outdoor Canada

At Ryerson University’s Magazine and Web Publishing Program she taught students the finer points of building a career in magazines. Many colleagues have noted her interest in learning about new talent in the industry and looking for opportunities to mentor others.

“Penny seeks connections for everyone she meets. She sees that if she fosters this talent within our industry, our collective chances at success—at having healthy, thriving Canadian magazines—are so much greater.”
Jess Ross, multiplatform content director at TVA Publications

All the while, Penny has frequently volunteered her time to sit on panels, juries, and boards of directors (including the NMAF from 2004 to 2010). Currently she serves as president of the International Regional Magazine Association (IRMA), where she has chaired awards committees, led numerous conference sessions, and developed the IRMA Connection initiative to improve communication and learning between members. “Penny is incredibly hard-working and an impressive problem solver who always has time for those who need her help,” says Tara Flint, executive director of IRMA. “She fosters positive discussions and brings out the best in others.”

Last year’s Outstanding Achievement Award winner, Kim Pittaway, sums it up aptly:

“Penny’s career exemplifies the best of what it means to lead a magazine: a deep respect for the audience, a commitment to the highest quality, a desire to innovate, and a dedication to respecting and fostering the talent of those with whom she works.”

For her commendable leadership in every role she has assumed, the NMAF is proud to honour Penny Caldwell with the 40th anniversary Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement. Penny will receive her award and recognition at the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala on May 26 in Toronto.

Tickets go on sale Thursday April 20 at magazine-awards.com.

The nominees for the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards will be announced on Thursday April 20.

ABOUT THE OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
The NMAF’s most prestigious individual prize  is the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement, an award that recognizes an individual’s innovation and creativity through contributions to the magazine industry.

The award is open to circulation experts, editors, marketing, sales and promotion professionals, publishers, creators, designers, production managers – in short, to everyone in the industry. It cannot be given posthumously.

The Judging Committee of the National Magazine Awards Foundation will consider the nominations, along with nominations from members of the Committee itself. The Board of the National Magazine Awards Foundation will select the winner.

For more information and previous winners, visit magazine-awards.com/oa.

Photo of Penny Caldwell by Daniel Ehrenworth

CBC documentary based on Desmond Cole’s National Magazine Award-winning story

Desmond Cole accepts the award for Best New Magazine Writer to a standing ovation at the 2016 National Magazine Awards in Toronto (Photo: Steven Goetz / National Magazine Awards Foundation)

In 2015 Desmond Cole’s essay “The Skin I’m In” (published in Toronto Life) made headlines across the country and became a touchstone for contemporary debates about race relations, privilege and law enforcement policy in Canada. Desmond Cole admitted to readers, “I was nine years old the first time I got stopped by police. Since then, I’ve been interrogated more than 50 times— all because of the colour of my skin.”

At the 2016 National Magazine Awards, Desmond Cole’s story won 3 awards–for Personal Journalism, Essays, and Best New Magazine Writer.

In an intimate portrait of systemic discrimination and how it erodes one’s sense of self, Cole has written in “The Skin I’m In” a powerful exposé of Canada’s justice system with clarity and integrity, holding up a mirror to readers of any ethnicity and making them rue what they see.
– National Magazine Awards jury

Since then, he’s become a columnist for the Toronto Star, a spokesperson for Black Lives Matter and other organizations challenging police practices in Toronto, and has appeared on panels for the CBC, the Canadian Journalism Foundation, Global News, and more. His work also appears in the The Walrus, Torontoist, VICE, NOW Magazine, and Ethnic Aisle.

Tonight, the CBC airs its documentary based on Desmond’s National Magazine Award-winning story–“The Skin We’re In“–at 9pm.

For the film version of The Skin We’re In, the perspective shifts — but the intimacy of Cole’s work is not lost. His journalism is marked by his unapologetic connection to many of his subjects, which is captured poignantly throughout the film.

Click here to watch the trailer of “The Skin We’re In”

Enter: 2017 NMA Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement

The National Magazine Awards Foundation is calling for nominations for the 2017 Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement, presented annually to an individual whose creativity and innovation over the course of their career have made a significant impact on the Canadian magazine industry.

Previous winners include Kim Pittaway, Kim Jernigan, Michael Fox, Stephen Trumper, Heather Robertson, Stephen Osborne, Jean Paré, Sally Armstrong, and more.

Nominations are welcome from anyone working in Canadian magazines, and must consist of:

  • A letter of nomination, including a brief bio of the nominee and a summary of their career achievements;
  • At least two (2) supporting letters from other individuals in the Canadian magazine industry or colleagues of the nominee.

There is no cost to nominate someone for the Outstanding Achievement Award.

Nominations are due by March 1, 2017 and can be emailed as a PDF to staff@magazine-awards.com or sent by mail to:
National Magazine Awards Foundation
2300 Yonge St, Suite 1600
Toronto, ON, M4P 1E4

The winner will be announced in April and will be presented with their award on stage at the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala.

For more information visit magazine-awards.com/oa

Enter: 2017 National Magazine Award for International Impact

New for 2017, the NMAF presents the International Impact Award. Deadline March 1. 

This award honours a Canadian who is making a significant contribution to a field of magazine journalism beyond the borders of Canada.

This award may recognize writers, photographers, illustrators, editors, publishers, art directors, circulation experts, marketing, sales and promotion professionals, production managers, digital journalism gurus—in short, anyone working in magazine journalism. It cannot be given posthumously.

Nominations must consist of:

  • A cover letter indicating the candidate’s name, title, and a summary of their career achievements, including links to or examples of their work;
  • At least two (2) supporting letters from other individuals–colleagues, mentors, teachers or others.

All nominations will be considered by the Board of Directors of the NMAF, which will select 1 winner to receive his or her award at the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala. The award includes 2 tickets to the National Magazine Awards, an Awards Certificate, and promotion in NMAF publications reaching the entire Canadian magazine industry.

Submit your nomination by email to staff@magazine-awards.com or by mail to:

National Magazine Awards Foundation
2300 Yonge Street, Suite 1600
Toronto, ON, M4P 1E4

The deadline for nominations is March 1.

For more information visit magazine-awards.com/international-impact

Off the Page, with Maisonneuve Publisher Jennifer Varkonyi

Off the Page is a regular interview series featuring National Magazine Award winners. Recently we caught up with Jennifer Varkonyi, publisher of Maisonneuve, which was named Canada’s Magazine of the Year in 2016, among 5 NMAs it took home last year. A quarterly magazine of arts, literature, ideas and culture, published in English in Montreal, Maisonneuve publishes new and established writers, artists and photojournalists packaged around award-winning design.

NMAF: Congratulations again on winning Magazine of the Year in 2016, the third such honour for Maisonneuve since 2004. In presenting the award, the NMA jury said:

Maisonneuve fulfills its bold mandate of ‘banishing boring,’ clearly striving to engage, inform and inspire. From its refreshing and imaginative art direction to its passionate editorial voice, the magazine feels like it’s constantly evolving, yet at the same time seems to connect with a sense of familiarity with its readers.”

As a publisher, how do you achieve this winning formula of evolution and continuity? And what was the significance to you and your team of winning the big award?

Jennifer: The answer is simple: the people. Maisonneuve has been blessed with great editors, art directors, writers, artists and interns who give their all to the magazine. We take the editorial process seriously, which means we do everything we can to help writers shape their stories to be the best they can be.

This striving for excellence has been a part of the magazine’s ethos from the very beginning, with founder Derek Webster’s drive to create a magazine that reflected intelligence, humour, and genuine curiosity, and the tradition has been carried forward by Carmine Starnino, Drew Nelles, Haley Cullingham, Daniel Viola and now Andrea Bennett.

Winning Magazine of the Year is significant for Maisonneuve. It reminds us that the hours upon hours of toil the editors dedicate to a fifth draft, or to tweaking display copy or scouring for typos, are noticed by readers and recognized within the magazine community. Being in Montreal can feel a little isolating at times, so coming to Toronto and winning the top honour is gratifying. The win also helps raise the magazine’s profile, especially among contributors, and it draws more people to the magazine.

NMAF: What three words or phrases describe the typical Maisonneuve reader? To what extent do you think about your current (and future) readers when you’re putting together and promoting a magazine issue?

Jennifer: I think here I have to go with the three qualities I used earlier: our readers are intelligent, have a sense of humour, and are curious about Canada and the world around them.

As publisher I consult with the editor-in-chief about upcoming issues, stories and themes, but the work of putting the content together really rests on the shoulders of the editors. Our editors ask themselves how they can best draw the reader into the story – how to begin a feature about, say, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in the North? How do you grab someone’s attention when discussing the politics of creating a national park? What messages do our graphics send, and are words and images working in unison? These are the kind of questions considered around the editorial table.

NMAF: What are the biggest challenges for a (small) magazine publisher in 2017? How do you address them?

Jennifer: The biggest challenges are resources (money) and maintaining circulation. Many people have a lot of love for the magazine, but connecting with that love and growing circulation even to 5,000 is a huge challenge. That’s partly a reflection of a competitive environment: there is so much amazing content out there competing for eyeballs and subscribers.

The Internet has put small Canadian magazines into direct competition with every other magazine in the world. Without our grants from all levels of government, we would not survive. I wish we were not so dependent on these funds, but it is a reality for most small Canadian magazines. Former editor Daniel Viola recently remarked to me that Maisonneuve runs on enthusiasm, and that is exactly right. I wish we could provide more remuneration to everyone who contributes to the magazine. I think every small magazine editor and publisher in Canada feels that way!

NMAF: Maisonneuve has a national perspective, but also very clearly reflects its Quebec and Montreal heritage. In many ways, Maisonneuve could be said to be the voice of Quebec for the rest of English Canada, in literature, art and current events. How has the magazine embraced this role, and why is it important to project Quebec (and Montreal) onto the national stage?

Jennifer: Maisonneuve has always wanted to blur borders – be they real or ideological. The magazine’s identity is rooted in Montreal, but it’s a cosmopolitan identity (which is very Montreal) so the result on the page is wide-ranging and eclectic. There are regular moments, such as in the Writing from Quebec section, where we shine a light on some new writing from the francophone community, but I think the voice of Quebec is more consistently found in the excellent reporting of L’actualité and the refined cultural commentary of Nouveau Projet, for example.

Maisonneuve really is a national magazine in its scope and story selection. There was a Beaverton headline that made me laugh recently – “Montreal declared the ‘I don’t know I’m just trying to figure my shit out’ capital of Canada” – and I certainly fit this bill when I was 19 and moved to Montreal from Saskatoon. The point being: Montreal presents an alternative to the norm, be it “Toronto” or “English” or whatever – you can do things a little differently in Montreal. Maisonneuve embraces this difference, and people appreciate that.

Jennifer Varkonyi (second from left, with envelope) accepts the National Magazine Award for Magazine of the Year with (from right) former Maisonneuve editors Daniel Viola and Haley Cullingham, former art director Anna Minzhulina, and Gala host Chris Turner.
Jennifer Varkonyi (second from left, with envelope) accepts the National Magazine Award for Magazine of the Year with (from right) former Maisonneuve editors Daniel Viola and Haley Cullingham, former art director Anna Minzhulina, and Gala host Chris Turner at the 2016 National Magazine Awards.

 

NMAF: Based on Maisonneuve’s success, what advice would you give to small magazine publishers who are concerned they can’t compete against larger magazines on newsstands (real and virtual) or at the National Magazine Awards?

Jennifer: I think the key is to take chances. Take chances on people, on ideas, on an opening, on a story’s length. If an editor’s interest is piqued, chances are readers will be interested too. One thing that small magazines have going for them is that enthusiasm I mentioned earlier, without the punishing production cycle of larger magazines, so editors can take a little more time with a story, push for something slightly better, and the results can be astonishingly rewarding. That doesn’t pay the rent, but this is where a gold medal from the National Magazine Awards makes the sacrifices worthwhile.


Jennifer Varkonyi is the publisher of Maisonneuve, Canada’s reigning Magazine of the Year. Find out more at Maisonneuve.org, or subscribe and get 2 years (8 issues) for just $30

Download the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards guide to submissions.

National Magazine Award for Magazine of the Year
Submissions to the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards are now open for submissions. The award for Magazine of the Year honours the magazine that most consistently engages, surprises and serves the needs of its readers. This award recognizes outstanding achievement in magazine publishing over the past year.

The jury shall evaluate each candidate for Magazine of the Year according to four general criteria—quality, innovation, impact, and brand awareness—and its success relative to the magazine’s editorial mandate. Each submitter will need to complete an application form providing details supporting each criterion. There will be 5 finalists for this award and one overall winner.

The deadline for submissions for Magazine of the Year is January 27.
(For all other categories, the deadline is January 20).

magazine-awards.com

Off The Page, with Adrian Forrow

Off the Page is a regular interview series featuring National Magazine Award winners. Recently we spoke with Adrian Forrow, who won his very first National Magazine Award in 2016, winning the Gold Medal in Illustration for his series of illustrations featured alongside the article “My Prescribed Life” (The Walrus). The story is a memoir about the longstanding link between mental health and prescription dependency, and it also received an Honourable Mention for Best Health & Medicine article.

NMAF: As splashes of colour that break up pages otherwise saturated by text, magazine illustrations give the reader a welcomed break, a moment’s pause before they jump back into reading. What do you think the role of an illustration is for people reading magazine articles?

Adrian: The role of editorial Illustration should be additive. It should help set the mood of the forthcoming text. The image can help evoke visual interest and transport the reader to a place where ideas and understanding intersect.

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NMAF: What details do you need before you can properly begin your creative, designing process? Are there certain elements or information that your client or partner needs to relay, in order for you to develop your concept?

Adrian: What I find that works best for me is to receive the brief and the text and really absorb the core idea before putting pen to paper. Once I feel I have a grasp of the idea, I might discuss the tone of the imagery that I feel is best for the article. This is where collaboration can happen with the art director and it’s a great way to help inform your imagery. I try not to think about the imagery at this stage–just the mood, atmosphere and tone of the picture.

The other detail that is critical for my process is the dimensions of the image. It’s really important for me to consider the whole compositional area. The dimension can ignite my conceptual approach and really make the art feel customized to the space available.

NMAF: You won Gold in Illustration at last year’s National Magazine Awards for your pieces featured in a memoir called “My Prescribed Life.” The story, published in The Walrus, discussed the link between the author’s mental illness and related dependence on medication. How did the subject matter of the memoir influence your creative conceptualization for the piece? How did you decide what tone would be most appropriate?

Adrian: This was a great article and so interesting. It was a delicate and somewhat saddening topic. I knew the colours were going to be really important. I didn’t want to do what was expected. I knew I had to take an approach that might have to be more ambiguous and surreal.

I didn’t want to use this illustration to summarize or define the problem. Instead my intent was to ask a question or pose a contemplative composition so the viewer would be left to decipher the visual symbols that I included.

The colours were mostly primary and that helped carry the idea of youth and aging. The colours also helped to create a surreal or even jarring feeling in relation to the content. The goal was for the colours and composition to carry ideas about an altered state of reality.

NMAF: Your Gold win last year was also your first time being recognized by the National Magazine Awards Foundation. How does winning awards for your illustration work help you, on both a personal and professional level?

Adrian: It feels great to know that my work is being received and appreciated within the industry. Personally, it helps to motivate me to keep developing my skills as a visual communicator. Professionally, it helps to open doors and possibilities for new and exciting opportunities.

NMAF: Your work has adorned coffee cups, been part of the creative for major music festivals and has been made larger-than-life by outdoor mural installations. Your work has also appeared in magazines, including The New Yorker, Corporate Knights and The Walrus. As an illustrator, what types of creative collaborations do you like to pursue? Do you try to not limit yourself to any one medium?

Adrian: I feel that in many ways I am just getting started. I have so many ideas and desires to push what I can do. The best thing about my profession is the variety it offers. One day I’m drawing a coffee cup, the next day I’m painting a huge outdoor mural. Variety is the spice of life, so I try to be diverse in the projects I take on.

I also love the collaborative process and making things that fulfill a need or desire. I have always experimented with different approaches and tools for making images.  I think it helps my clients see different possibilities and vary their experiences with illustration.

As of now, I have been collaborating with Warby Parker for a new store mural which I am really excited to share with people. I have also been collaborating with Keilhauer to make some artful promotional products.


Adrian Forrow is a National Magazine Award-winning illustrator whose work has been published in The Walrus, Corporate Knights, Canadian Running & Cycling Magazine and The New Yorker. His debut National Magazine Award was the Gold Medal in Best Illustration, for his series of illustrations featured in The Walrus memoir, “My Prescribed Life“. 

Check out his work at www.adrianforrow.com.

Read more Off the Page interviews with National Magazine Award-winning illustrators including Gracia Lam, Hudson ChristieByron Eggenscwhiler, Roxanna Bikadoroff, Jillian Tamaki and Selena Wong. 


Submissions to the 40th Anniversary National Magazine Awards
The 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards are open for submissions until January 20, including awards for Illustration and for Best New Magazine Illustrator.
Enter at magazine-awards.com.

In alternate years, the NMAF presents distinct awards for Best New Magazine Illustrator and Best New Magazine Photographer. For this year’s 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards, the Best New Visual Creator award will go to an illustrator whose early work in magazines shows the highest degree of craft and promise.

Read more about the Best New Creators Awards here.