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.
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“.
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.
Each year the NMAF relies on the expertise of over 120 volunteer judges–editors, publishers, art directors, professors, writers, artists and other renowned journalists–to review the entries to the National Magazine Awards, deliberate and ultimately decide on the nominees and winners. The final list of this year’s NMA judges will be announced next month.
To learn more about becoming a judge for the 2017 National Magazine Awards, visit our Call for Judgesor email us at email@example.com.
Claire Dawson is a graphic designer, creative director, and co-founder of Underline Studio. 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.
Byron Eggenschwiler is a 6-time National Magazine Award-winning illustrator whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Wired, GQ, Canadian Business, The Walrus, Quill & Quire and many other publications.
Curtis Gillespie is a 7-time National Magazine Award winner and the Editor-in-Chief of Eighteen Bridges magazine. He is the author of four books, including the memoir Playing Through: A Year of Life and Links Along the Scottish Coast, and the novel Crown Shyness.
Lisa Gregoire is a National Magazine award-winning journalist, the managing editor of Nunatsiaq News and a contributing editor at Eighteen Bridges. She lives in Ottawa with her husband and their twin daughters.
Danielle Groen is a National Magazine Award-winning writer whose work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, The Grid, The Walrus, Flare, and Report on Business. She was formerly the Features Editor at Chatelaine.
Marni Jackson is the former Rogers Chair of the Literary Journalism program at the Banff Centre, where she is on the faculty of the Mountain and Wilderness Writing program. She has won numerous National Magazine Awards, and her debut novel, Don’t I Know You? (Flatiron Books), made both Globe and CBC Best Books of 2016 lists.
Gilbert Li is Principal of the creative studio The Office of Gilbert Li, a graphic design studio who works with discerning cultural organizations, publishers, educational institutions, non-profits and creative entrepreneurs. His work has won top North American design awards and has been featured in leading industry publications. He is a professional member of RGD Ontario and on The Advertising and Design Club of Canada’s Board of Directors.
Stacey McLachlan is Executive Editor of Western Living and Vancouvermagazines, and an award-winning feature writer.
Marci McDonald is an 8-time National Magazine Award winner whose work has appeared in Toronto Life, The Walrus, Canadian Geographic and other publications, and was formerly the Washington Bureau Chief for Maclean’s. She is the author of The Armageddon Factor: the Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, and Yankee Doodle Dandy: Brian Mulroney and the American Agenda.
Alison Motlukis a Toronto-based freelance journalist who works in print and radio. She has won 4 National Magazine Awards for her work in Maisonneuve and The Walrus.
Katrina Onstad’s best-selling second novel, Everybody Has Everything, has been published in several countries and was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Toronto Book Award. Her non-fiction writing on culture high and low has appeared in publications including The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, Toronto Life and Elle. Katrina is a multiple National Magazine Award winner and received a Best Columnist nomination for her work in Chatelaine.
Evan Osenton is the editor of Alberta Views. Founded in 1997, Alberta Views provides information and fresh perspectives on the politics, social issues and culture of Alberta, and was Canada’s Magazine of the Year at the 2009 NMAs.
Janice Paskey is a professor of journalism at Mt. Royal University in Calgary, and past editor of Avenue magazine and the McGill University alumni magazine in Montreal. Over the course of her career, she has served as Canadian Correspondent for The Chronicle of Higher Education, web producer for CTV Calgary, Executive Director of Communications for the University of Calgary Development Office, and Manager of Communications for Development and Alumni at McGill.
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). He has taught editorial design at OCAD University and lectured on design topics in Europe, North America and Latin America.
Jean-Francois Proulx is the creative director of Nouveau Projet and of the design studio Balistique. He has won 3 National Magazine Awards.
Mark Pupo is the VP of content marketing for the software company Top Hat and the restaurant critic for Toronto Life. He’s served as features editor at Toronto Life andSaturday Night.
Susan Scott is the nonfiction editor at The New Quarterly (TNQ) and associate creative director of the Wild Writers Literary Festival. She has taught at Wilfrid Laurier University and St Jerome’s University, and continues annually at Write on the French River Creative Writing Retreat.
Shelley Youngblut is the General Director of Wordfest, Calgary’s festival of readers, writers and artists. Previously she was the Western Editor of the Globe and Mail, features editor at ESPN the Magazine, and founding editor of Swerve, the Calgary Herald’s award-winning weekly magazine.
Off the Page is a regular interview series featuring National Magazine Award winners. Recently we caught up with photojournalist Marta Iwanek, who in 2016 was named Canada’s Best New Magazine Photographer from the National Magazine Awards Foundation, in addition to winning the Gold Medal for Photojournalism & Photo Essay for her incredible reporting of the 2013-2014 Ukrainian crisis, titled “The Maidan” (Maisonneuve).
NMAF: In your award-winning photo essay, “The Maidan,” you take the reader on a journey to a winter in Kyiv, where thousands of Ukrainians gathered to take a courageous stand against their government. You capture the Maidan as a place of fear and uncertainty, but also of community and solidarity. How did you get a sense of the place when you arrived, and what were the human emotions that spoke to you as a photographer?
Marta: I first arrived in Kyiv in early November (2013) before any of the protests had started. I remember driving through the centre of the city and thinking what a bustling metropolis it was. Then I went out east to work on a film and returned in late November a little after the pro-European protests had begun. Everything was still calm at that point and there was a sense of hopefulness among the crowd.
The protest was to last nine days, but on the last night everything changed. The remaining protestors were chased out of Independence Square (Maidan) and beaten by police, angering many people. On December 1 a large demonstration occurred in Kyiv where the people re-took the square and the movement that became known as “the Maidan” began. I was supposed to fly back to Toronto shortly after, but realized I couldn’t leave.
The feeling was so powerful and strong among the people. It felt like people had been pushed to an edge and they had nothing more to lose. There were feelings of frustration, abandonment and urgency. At the same time, you could still find the glimpses of hope and community as people unified under one cause–to oust then President Yanukovych. I was always trying to show those emotions in my photos and trying to understand the situation deeper, trying to figure out what made it this way? I changed my flight and ended up staying three months, living among the protestors and spending my days and nights wandering the square, talking to people and trying to make sense of it.
I like to immerse myself in stories as much as possible and I hope this translates in my photos. It was also a story I felt personally connected to because my roots are Ukrainian and I grew up in the Ukrainian diaspora in Toronto. I grew up listening to the stories of Ukraine’s constant struggle for independence and to be free of corruption, so the feelings of the people in the square were not foreign to me. However, this time, it wasn’t just my parents talking about it in Canada, detached from the situation and it’s consequences. It was happening in front of me. When it was finally time to leave, I will always remember that contrast I felt when I first arrived in the capital and when I left–the place, the people and the country had been changed forever.
During my years as the art director of Maisonneuve magazine, I had the opportunity to work with many talented women photographers—each one a unique visual voice. Marta Iwanek stands out for the way she brings her compassion to a body of work that sits on the edge of war and peace, among fire and smoke, between life and death situations, especially with her Ukrainian “Maidan” project.
—Anna Minzhulina, former art director, Maisonneuve
NMAF: Over one hundred people were killed in the government reprisals, and you spent time not only on the front lines but also with those who were wounded and grieving. How did you balance your own safety with your passion for capturing every aspect of the story? And did you learn anything about yourself as a journalist that will assist you in the future?
Marta: There were certain days that felt very unsafe on the square, but the majority of my time spent there, things were peaceful. There would be flare-ups between police and protestors and then things would resume back to “normal.” I looked to other, more experienced photojournalists in the square for guidance and advice. I had only been freelancing for three months at that point, fresh out of college and had found myself in the middle of the news cauldron that was Kyiv.
There were many times that I was scared. Even today I think I still would be. The most important thing I learned in those kinds of situations is to trust your gut. There were certain situations I decided to be close-up and others I held back from. Sometimes, I beat myself up for not being in the right place or holding back too much, but you have to be honest with yourself and with what you’re willing to do. It took quite a while to reconcile these feelings, but the experience taught me that I’m not a conflict photographer.
Many photojournalists starting out often have a dream of covering foreign stories and conflicts. I didn’t go to Ukraine searching out a conflict to photograph, I just happened to be there when it all started. And a part of me left feeling like I had failed as a journalist because I hadn’t gotten the most heated moments, and I was actually back in Canada on the day that over a hundred protestors were shot. For me, it was more emotionally heavy to be away from the square during that time than when I was in it. Not knowing about the fate of many friends who were there, as well as feeling the guilt of not being there, took a toll.
We’re taught to want to be this travelling, conflict photographer, but that’s not who all of us are. The whole time on the square, I found myself being much more drawn and interested in the quieter moments and it took me a while to realize those moments are just as important too.
We are all unique and we will all notice different things in similar situations and we will be better at photographing in certain situations over others. Journalism is a communal effort and we need to be honest with ourselves, find out the type of stories you’re best at and are drawn to. Then don’t be afraid to do it.
NMAF: That was over three years ago, and since then Ukraine has experienced war and occupation perhaps beyond the worst fears of those who gathered on the Maidan. How has this story stayed with you since then?
Marta: My time on the Maidan has been one of the factors that keeps driving me to keep coming back to this region and exploring the underlying issues more deeply, looking at why things are the way they are now, what’s caused them and what keeps causing them?
It’s also something I’ve always wanted to do because my background is Ukrainian. I’ve always been drawn to Ukraine and Eastern Europe because I’ve grown up with my cultural heritage being so central in my life, from participating in folk activities, being involved in the diaspora community to regular dinner table conversations about Eastern European politics. I actually started primary school barely speaking English because at home we just spoke Ukrainian. It has a huge place in my heart. I’ve started looking at my own family’s history in the area, connecting with relatives and following the story of Ukrainians in Poland who were deported from the South-Eastern territories in 1947 under military Operation Vistula. Deportations are a huge part of Eastern Europe’s history and play a huge factor in why things are the way they are today.
There has definitely been media fatigue with Ukraine as the conflict reaches yet another year. It’s why I think it’s more important than ever to stay with the story and understand what is happening there, to put the past and the future in greater context for the average viewer.
NMAF: For the camera nerds, what bodies and lenses do you shoot with? And what was your technical approach to the photography on the Maidan?
Marta: Back then, during those three months on the Maidan, I was using a D600 and a 35mm f/2 and a 24-70mm. This is still my favourite set-up although now I have a D810 with a 35mm f/1.4. My technical approach is to go as light on gear as possible, zoom with your feet and build intimacy with the people you are photographing. This will create a much better photo than any lens or camera body can.
NMAF: You worked with Anna Minzhulina, then the art director of Maisonneuve, who said she was stunned by the evocative scenes and characters that jumped out from your images. Can you describe the creative process of how the two of you edited your body of work into a story that connected with the magazine reader?
Marta: Anna is an extremely talented and passionate editor and I am so grateful for her eye. Editing is an art of its own and a skill many photographers often lack, myself included. It was also a story I had immersed myself in, so it can be very hard to be objective about the photos when editing, which is where Anna came in.
So often, I would attach a personal memory or story to a photo and Anna was able to single out the photos that could still speak to a viewer who was encountering them without all the backstory. She chose the photos that could speak on their own and spoke together cohesively to tell the story of the square.
It was also exciting to be able to tell a story in a magazine over so much space. The majority of my time I’ve spent working in newspapers where it’s usually one image to tell a story, but here it was a different process of how the photos work together to form a narrative.
Women photographers are still an anomaly in the male-dominated documentary photo world, with its emphasis on traditionally masculine values like the courage and bravery to ‘shoot’ with a camera. We need to encourage more female visual voices like Iwanek’s here in Canada and around the world. Death does not distinguish between genders. It takes all. But I’m interested in how the female eye looking through a photographic lens might see it differently. It’s important that we have different perspectives, that we pay attention to what they might show us that we haven’t considered before. That’s why we need exposure to more work of female war photographers, such as Iwanek.
—Anna Minzhulina, former art director, Maisonneuve
NMAF: The night of the 2016 National Magazine Awards, you didn’t have a ticket to get in, but as the show started you were hanging out in the foyer in case your name was called. And it was—twice! What was that experience like? And when you were on stage accepting your awards, what was your message to the audience?
Marta: I was generously given a seat at the sponsor table and so in the end I was able to attend the awards. I had a small cheer crew at the table and we had a lot of fun. I hadn’t prepared a speech, but I just went up there and spoke from my heart. I thanked everyone who helped me and it was great to see Anna in the audience as I spoke. I was also thankful that the recognition of the award would bring more attention to the story, which had greatly fallen off the news cycle. It’s a story close to me and so I’m grateful for any opportunity to talk about it.
NMAF: Can you tell us about some of your latest projects, and what you’re up to next as a journalist?
Marta: A project titled “Darling” was actually one of my first projects and still one close to my heart. It is a story about an elderly couple in Trenton, Ontario, where Lex Duncan is the at-home-caregiver for his wife Mary Duncan, who has dementia. I started it as a way to reconnect with a generation I felt I didn’t get a good chance to know after my last grandparent died.
It was a project to deal with the loss and also understanding what my parents, as well as countless others in our country are facing as they care for an ailing loved one. I am so grateful to the Duncan family who opened up their home to me and gave me a chance to get to know them and tell this story.
This year I started photographing in the villages my grandparents came from. They were once Ukrainian villages but after WWII became part of Poland and the majority of the Ukrainians who lived there were deported and dispersed either to Soviet Ukraine or throughout Poland, my grandparents included.
I’ve always been curious about my roots and grew up with a father who has worked as a historian, making films and writing books on eastern European history. So after the Maidan I became interested in exploring Eastern Europe on a deeper level and understanding events in the past that have an effect on the present. Through this project I want to explore how identity changes when a culture is displaced from its ancestral land. It’s been a very personal project, but I’ve also found it to be incredibly universal through the many forced migrations happening throughout the world today.
Marta Iwanek is a National Magazine Award-winning photojournalist whose work has appeared in Maisonneuve, Maclean’s, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, and other publications. In 2016 she was named Canada’s Best New Magazine Photographer by the National Magazine Awards Foundation. Discover more of her work at martaiwanek.com.
The 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards are open for submissions until January 20, including three different categories for photography. Enter at magazine-awards.com.
The NMAF is excited to announce the Call for Entries for the 2017 Digital Publishing Awards, honouring excellence by Canada’s digital publishers and creators in 22 awards categories. Submissions are now being accepted at digitalpublishingawards.ca and the deadline is January 31.
“In our second year as Canada’s preeminent digital awards competition, the 2017 DPAs have expanded to reflect new trends and attitudes in digital publishing and content. Over the past year, Canadian publishers and creators have thrilled audiences with informative and innovative digital journalism and storytelling. We are looking forward to rewarding the very best of Canada’s digital creators.”
— Nino Di Cara, President, NMAF
Submissions are open to Canadian digital publishers and content creators whose work appeared in them during 2016. Eligible publications—including those that support established brands in magazine, newspaper, broadcast, B2B and other journalism, as well as those that serve their audiences exclusively as digital brands—is one with a permanent editorial staff in Canada and published in either English or French or a combination of both.
Awards for individual creators include a cash prize of $500.
WHAT’S NEW THIS YEAR After a successful inaugural year in 2016, the Digital Publishing Awards has expanded its program under the guidance of our Advisory Committee, feedback from participants and judges, and the NMAF Board of Directors.
The top overall prize—General Excellence in Digital Publishing—will be presented in two divisions, for large and small publications.
Other new categories include:
Best Social Storytelling
Best Online Video in 3 divisions:
Short (under 2 minutes)
Feature (2-5 minutes)
Mini-Doc (more than 5 minutes
Best News Coverage in 2 divisions:
Provincial & Local
National & International
Best Personal Essay
Best Arts & Culture
Best Service Feature: Lifestyle
Best Service Feature: Family, Health & Careers
Best Fashion & Beauty
Emerging Excellence Award
Digital Publishing Leadership Award
RULES & JUDGING For a complete guide to eligible publications and content, please see the DPA Rules.
For a complete description of judging procedures, please see the DPA Judging Process.
To nominate a colleague as a judge, please see the DPA Call for Judges.
SUBMISSIONS & DEADLINE Submissions can be made online at digitalpublishingawards.ca.
The entry fee for most awards is $95 at the Early-Bird rate (by January 20).
The final deadline for all entries is January 31.
ABOUT THE DIGITAL PUBLISHING AWARDS The Digital Publishing Awards promote and reward the achievements of those who create digital publishing content in Canada—the writers and editors, designers and developers, video and podcast producers, photographers and illustrators, and many others. The DPA program recognizes, celebrates and promotes to a national audience the innovative publishing teams that produce digital content in Canadian media.
The Digital Publishing Awards are produced by the National Magazine Awards Foundation, a not-for-profit, registered charity that has administered Canada’s annual National Magazine Awards since 1977. With a reputation for facilitating a rigorous, fair and transparent awards program in which content creators are recognized and rewarded for outstanding achievement in magazine journalism, the NMAF is proud to present the Digital Publishing Awards in partnership with Canada’s leading producers and creators of digital publishing.
Looking for that perfect (okay, perfect last-minute) stocking stuffer? Do they love to read, laugh, cook or shop? Do they love great writing, photography and illustration? Then stuff a great, National Magazine Award-winning magazine in that stocking. Here are some of our favourites from 2016. (And for more ideas, check out our holiday book guide, with new books by NMA-winning writers.)
A quarterly magazine of arts, literature, ideas and culture, published in English in Montreal. You’ll find a great mix of new and established writers, artists and photojournalists packaged around award-winning design. A perfect magazine for an afternoon on the sofa or a long train ride home. Also, it’s Canada’s Magazine of the Year in 2016 (1 of 5 NMAs it won this year), so you know every issue is a must-read. 2 years (8 issues) for just $30
Winner of 4 National Magazine Awards in 2016 including Essays and Investigative Reporting, this thought-provoking magazine of longform journalism published in Edmonton is consistent in introducing readers to Canada’s best writers and important stories. 4 issues for $26
CNQ: Canadian Notes & Queries
Winner of the 2016 National Magazine Award for Fiction, CNQ publishes some of this country’s finest literary criticism, poetry, graphic works, and short fiction. 1 year (3 issues) for just $25
Winner of the 2016 National Magazine Award for Poetry, Vallum is one of Canada’s very best publications for poetry and literary reviews, and regularly features Canada’s best poets as well as emerging ones. 1 year (2 issues) for $20
Globe Style Advisor
Also a winner of 4 National Magazine Awards in 2016 for its photography and design, Globe Style is one of our favourites for fashion and style journalism. Get it with your Globe & Mailsubscription. And you can get award-winning Report on Businessmagazine, too.
An award-winning magazine of design, decor, lifestyle and more, Western Living was a 2016 National Magazine Award winner and consistently delivers quality ideas that are in line with the latest and greatest trends. 1 year (10 issues) digitally for just $18
The Feathertale Review
A literary magazine dedicated to great humour (twice an NMA winner in that category), Feathertale makes a great gift for anyone who loves to laugh and enjoys the lighter side of CanLit. 1 year (4 issues) for $30
A Canadian tradition in a magazine, Cottage Life is not only the perfect companion to country living in all four seasons, it mixes practical advice with award-winning journalism. Don’t go into the woods without it. 1 year all access print and digital for $30