Remembering Ruth Kelly

The NMAF is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ruth Kelly, one of the great leaders in the Canadian magazine industry.

A public statement from Ruth’s family reads: “Our family is grieving the profound loss of Ruth Kelly. To us she was Ruth, a woman we loved, but to Albertans she was a distinguished business woman, a community leader, a philanthropist, and a role model.”

As a publisher, frequent guest speaker at events and conferences, and a former judge for the National Magazine Awards, Ruth was a passionate and steadfast advocate for magazines and the role they play in educating and informing Canadian readers. She believed magazines should strive for nothing less than outstanding quality and honest reporting.

Ruth Kelly was a champion of magazines, and always encouraged us to look to the best to set the bar for where our design and editorial went. She encouraged us to participate as volunteers, whether judges or board members, and took time to serve as a judge herself. Some of our proudest moments included gold and silver medals for unlimited [magazine] at the National Magazine Awards as well as many gold medals at the KRW Awards. Ruth had a passion for magazines that was contagious, and a stubborn streak about quality and relevance to audience that was impossible to argue with. Her influence on regional publishing and her dedication to service in the industry will be missed.
Joyce Byrne, publisher of Avenue Magazine (Calgary) and past president, NMAF

Ruth was publisher and CEO of Venture Publishing, where she helmed the award-winning Alberta Venture and Alberta Oil magazines as their editor-in-chief. She served as president of the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association,

After graduating from the University of Alberta with a degree in poetry, Ruth worked in printing and advertising before purchasing Venture magazine in 1997 from the Alberta government. She turned Venture into a high-quality publication targeting the province’s business community, and built a strong team that also launched more than a dozen custom publications, including Alberta Innovators, Open Mind, Tracks & Treads, Grip, Leap, Signature, WE, PSAC, Hard Hat, and more.

Ruth cared. Deeply. She cared about magazines and media and great writing and smart creative people making a difference. She cared about her community. She cared greatly for the people in her life, both personal and professional. Ruth could wow a crowded hall with her wit and brains, and she could wow you with tiny kindnesses no one else would ever know about. She was all business but she only acted that way to partially hide the fact that, really, she was all heart. It’s a devastating loss.
Curtis Gillespie, editor-in-chief of Eighteen Bridges, and director of the NMAF

Ruth was also a gracious volunteer for many organizations, and was recognized and sought after for her wisdom and acumen. A former Chamber of Commerce chairwoman, she was part of the University of Alberta’s School of Business Advisory Council. She also sat on the board of Magazines Canada and on the Mayor’s Business Roundtable. She served as chair of EPCOR’s Community Essentials Council and the Capital Region’s United Way campaign.

In 1998, Ruth was recognized as a Global Woman of Vision, a YWCA Woman of Distinction in the Entrepreneur category in 2003, and was the Allard Chair of Business at MacEwan School of Business in 2005. The Canadian Women in Communications selected Ruth for their 2008 Woman of the Year award, making her the first Albertan to receive this national honour. She received an honorary degree in business from NAIT in 2008, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Alberta in 2013.

In 2013, Ruth received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her contributions to Canada. In the same year, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs awarded Ruth with their Celebration of Entrepreneurial Achievement recognition. The Alberta Congress Board also selected her as their 2014 Distinguished Workplace Leader award recipient.

She was the 2012 recipient of AMPA’s Achievement in Publishing Award, where her profile read, “Her respect for creativity and craftsmanship led her to publishing and made her one the industry’s most respected leaders.”

As a magazine community we are forever in Ruth Kelly’s debt for her inspiring leadership, and our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues in this time of grief and remembrance.

More on Ruth Kelly:

Western Living, Avenue Calgary, Alberta Venture lead nominees for Alberta Magazine Awards

Named a record-breaking year, the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association (AMPA) announced the Showcase finalists for the 2016 Alberta Magazine Awards. 27 Alberta magazines hold nominations (a significant increase from last year); Western Living and Avenue Calgary are tied at an impressive 17 nominations, Alberta Venture follows closely with 16, and Avenue Edmonton and Swerve close in third with 15 nominations.

Alberta Views, Avenue Edmonton, and New Trail are the three Magazine of the Year contenders.

Alberta Views, 1 of 3 finalists for Alberta Magazine of the Year
Alberta Views, 1 of 3 finalists for Alberta Magazine of the Year

Among the individual nominees, many of these talented AMPA Showcase finalists are also National Magazine Award winners.

NMA winner Omar Mouallem leads all writers with 6 nominations: He’s nominated twice in Profiles for his work in Alberta Venture, once in Service: Lifestyle, once in Feature Writing: Short and twice in Feature Writing: Long.

Tadzio Richards (a finalist in the Alberta Story category, for his piece “End of the Line” published in Alberta Views) was successful at the 2007 NMAs, winning Gold in the category of Investigative Reporting and Silver for Science, Technology, and the Environment.

Two-time NMA winner Jeremy Klaszus, also a former winner of Best New Magazine Writer, is nominated in the Profile category for his work in Swerve.

John Ulan, NMA winner a year ago in Portrait Photography, was nominated for Photography: People and Portraiture.

Avenue Edmonton, 1 of 3 finalists for Alberta Magazine of the Year
Avenue Edmonton, 1 of 3 finalists for Alberta Magazine of the Year

Daniel Wood has a long track record of winning NMAs, starting in 1987 with an Honourable Mention and Silver wins in 1995, 1996, 2002, and 2003. At this year’s Alberta Magazine Awards, Daniel is a finalist in the category of Photograph: People and Portraiture.

Marcey Andrews, art director of New Trail—a Gold NMA winner in 2014—is nominated in a impressive slew AMPA categories this year, including: Art Direction for a Single Issue, Cover, Feature, Design, and Editorial Package.

Congratulations also goes out to to Hudson Christie, winner of the 2015 NMA award for Best New Magazine Illustrator and 2016 finalist in the Best Cover category at the AMPA Awards.

New Trail, 1 of 3 finalists for Alberta Magazine of the Year
New Trail, 1 of 3 finalists for Alberta Magazine of the Year

Previous NMA award-winning creators and current AMPA finalists also include Lisa Gregoire (Essay), Tyee Bridge (Feature Writing: Long and Service: Lifestyle), Marcello Di Cintio (Feature Writing: Long and Profile), Martin Tessler, Clinton Hussey and Evaan Kheraj (Photography: Essay or Series) and Graham Roumieu (Illustration).

The complete list of finalists can be found here.

Aside from the 21 Showcase Awards—rewarding creators of everything from infographics to fiction to digital presence—there are three achievement awards: Anders Knudsen won the Achievement in Publishing Award, Brnesh Berhe is Volunteer of the Year, and Editor of the Year went to Curtis Gillespie, a director of the National Magazine Awards Foundation.

The AMPA Achievement Judges had this to say of Curtis’ editing work:

“His love of great writing and storytelling inspired him to provide both emerging and established writers the space to tell compelling and thought-provoking stories at a time when the arena for such content was dwindling.”

(The full blurb can be found here.) Curtis’ editing aptitude is also highlighted by his many NMA wins: he snagged 14 Honourable Mentions between 2000 and 2014, Silver awards in 1999, 2000, and 2013; and Gold awards in 1999 and 2013 for his work in Eighteen Bridges, Western Living, Toronto Life, Saturday Night, New Trail and more.

The NMAF wishes all finalists good luck. Award winners are announced March 3, at the 2016 Alberta Magazine Awards Gala in Calgary. The gala takes place on the first day of the Alberta Magazines Conference.

Special thanks to Leah Edwards for her reporting on this story.

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 hudsonchristie.com and find him on Twitter @Hudsons_House.

The 2016 National Magazine Awards are now open for submissions.

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