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.

Enter Best New Magazine Illustrator | 2017 National Magazine Awards

Are you an emerging Canadian magazine illustrator or graphic artist? Have you published your first major piece of visual work in a Canadian consumer or B2B magazine, a university magazine, or an arts journal within the last 3 years? Chances are you’re eligible to be named Canada’s Best New Illustrator from the National Magazine Awards Foundation.

The National Magazine Award for Best New Illustrator  goes to the artist whose early work in Canadian magazines shows the highest degree of craft and promise. The award includes a cash prize of $1000, an awards certificate, and nationwide recognition.

ELIGIBILITY
Eligible work–including illustration, photo illustration, infographics, graphic narratives and digital images–must have been published in a Canadian magazine (print, online or tablet) between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2016. The work can be a single illustration or a series accompanying an article or editorial package. Candidates must not have published any magazine work prior to 2014. 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 rules for further information about eligible publications.

HOW TO ENTER
Enter your submissions at magazine-awards.com. Submissions may be made by the artist or their art director or teacher, and must include a PDF of the work as well as a letter of reference (see requirements below). The deadline for applications is January 20. The cost to enter is $95 (freelancers who enter their own work may be eligible for the Freelancer Support Fund and an entry fee of just $50).

REQUIREMENTS

  • Upload a PDF of your work during the online application.
  • Upload a PDF of a letter of reference from a teacher, art director, mentor or colleague, which should introduce the candidate to the jury, attest to their eligibility, for this award, and provide context for the work submitted. Both the visual work and letter are reviewed by the judges.
  • Pay the submission fee by cheque or credit card.

FINALISTS AND WINNERS
A shortlist of up to 5 finalists will be announced in the spring, and all finalists receive a certificate and recognition in NMAF publications and at the gala. The winner will be revealed at the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala.

PRIZE
There is a cash prize of $1000 and an awards certificate, and the right to call yourself a National Magazine Award winner. We’ll interview you for our blog and newsletter, and promote you and your work to art directors and magazine readers nationwide.

PREVIOUS WINNERS
Recent winners of the award for Best New Magazine Illustrator include Byron Eggenschwiler and Hudson Christie.

Don’t forget the deadline: January 20, 2017.

Ready to submit? Click here.

ABOUT THE NMAF
The National Magazine Awards Foundation is a bilingual, not-for-profit institution whose mission is to foster, recognize and promote editorial excellence in Canadian publications. The annual program of awards are presented in the spring and are followed by a year-long national publicity campaign and several professional development opportunities.

NMA 2016 Nominees: Best Illustration in Canadian Magazines

For this year’s National Magazine Awards the jury has selected 10 finalists for the category Illustration & Photo Illustration. Gold and Silver winners will be revealed at the 39th National Magazine Awards gala on June 10. Tickets are on sale now.

Here are the nominees for Best Illustration & Photo Illustration:

Kagan McLeod
The Trial of the Century
Maclean’s


Mike Ellis
Reduce, Reuse, RIP
Maisonneuve


Raymond Biesinger
An Anatomy Course Circa 2115
New Trail


Raymond Biesinger
See Changes
Reader’s Digest


Gracia Lam
Three’s Company
Reader’s Digest


Kinomi
Lost Boy
Reader’s Digest


Pascal Blanchet
Summer Reading
The Walrus 


Adrian Forrow
My Prescribed Life
The Walrus


Min Gyo Chung
Moosehide
THIS Magazine


Jeannie Phan
Divorce
United Church Observer


Which do you think is most deserving of the award for Illustration? Tell us on Twitter: @MagAwards | #NMA16

Congratulations to all the nominees for the National Magazine Awards. The Gold and Silver winners will be revealed at the 39th annual NMA Gala on June 10 at The Arcadian Court in Toronto. [INFO & TICKETS]

Meet the nominees for:
Art Direction of an Entire Issue
Portrait Photography
Words & Pictures

Complete nominations coverage

2016 Sheridan Illustration Exhibit opens Thursday April 14

Thursday in Toronto the graduating class of Sheridan College’s diploma program in Visual and Creative Arts–Illustration, will showcase their work at the 99 Sudbury Gallery, in an exhibit titled The Neighbourhood.

Each year this presentation by emerging illustrators proves to be spectacular, and a great way to check out the next generation of graphic artists.

The exhibit is open to the public on Thursday evening, April 14, at 7pm at the gallery at 99 Sudbury. The exhibit continues Friday afternoon from 2-9pm.

The Sheridan illustration program is led by Donna Braggins, formerly the art director of Maclean’s and Canadian Business magazines, and past president of the National Magazine Awards Foundation.

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

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
Precedent

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 magazine-awards.com.

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 magazine-awards.com.

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.