Off the Page is a regular interview series produced by the National Magazine Awards Foundation. Today we catch up with Byron Eggenschwiler, five-time National Magazine Award-winning illustrator whose work has been published in Swerve, Maisonneuve, Cottage Life, Canadian Business, Up Here and other Canadian magazines.
NMAF: You call Alberta home and graduated from the Alberta College of Art + Design. Like so many other graduates of programs at ACAD and the Ontario College of Art and Design, you’ve found great success in the Canadian magazine industry. How has your education helped shape your art and your future as a magazine illustrator?
Byron: My education was pretty invaluable, it gave me an environment that encouraged exploration of media and ideas and forced me to sit down and start thinking about the kind of work I wanted to make. The program at ACAD was really great for teaching us about both design and illustration and how the two intersect. Having both those backgrounds has been helpful in my illustration work.
I actually didn’t even know illustration was a career or what it really meant until going through the program. I was lucky to have teachers who encouraged me and steered me in the right direction and some really talented friends in my classes that challenged me to push myself out of my comfort zone to make better work.
NMAF: A year after winning your first NMA for Spot Illustration in Swerve for “Be Worried–Don’t be Happy” in 2008, you were the first-ever winner of the award for Best New Visual Creator [now known as Best New Illustrator or Photographer] for “Tales from Riverheights Terrace” (also in Swerve). How did this recognition help propel your career?
Byron: I am unsure how these things directly affect future work but it helps to get your name out into the world a bit more, which can’t hurt. It is a great event celebrating the Canadian magazine industry and an honour for me to be acknowledged for the work I am doing within that [industry]. It gives a guy a confidence boost to keep moving forward in an otherwise fairly solitary profession.
NMAF: You have a distinct and recognizable style. How much direction do you take from your clients in the magazine industry and how much of your own creative voice goes into designing your illustrations for each piece?
Byron: It can be a balance and depends on the magazine itself, but sometimes an art director has something specific in mind for an idea and I work with that. Sometimes that can be a jumping off point for an even better idea. There are times where there is a bit of back and forth along the way but most of the time it is left in my hands to see where I can take a piece and how I want to finish it. Compromising is part of the job and hopefully no matter what it still carries a bit of me with it at the end.
NMAF: Many of your pieces seem to be more of an article within an illustration as opposed to an illustration meant to accompany an article. How does conceptualization for some of these, more image-heavy, pieces work?
Byron: I start by distilling an article down to a core point or phrase and then start sketching whatever ideas come to mind with that theme in the back of my mind. I don’t tend to have too many thoughts until I can see the forms taking shape on the page and it is somewhere in that mental wandering and playing around that ideas will emerge for me. Depending on the feel of the story itself this can lead off in different directions, and as long as that initial idea is still there I am pretty open to anything.
I like the idea of creating a new story with my illustrations to tell the author’s story. I think it can add another layer to the article and enrich it.
NMAF: When drawing, do you aim to create an image that contextually matches the text of the article, or does the tone or theme of the piece dictate what imagery will accompany it?
Byron: I like to read an article a few times to get an overall feel for the content and then decide how I want to approach it. If the tone is more serious or if it is humorous it will have a big influence on my thinking of how to approach the piece. I find the end result is much better if I can keep myself open to surprises through the sketching phase and let thoughts show up no matter how out-there they are. I try to make work that captures the feeling you get when you read the story and will speak to you with or without the text.
Byron Eggenscwhiler is an award-winning illustrator based in Calgary. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Discover, More Magazine, BusinessWeek, National Post, O, The Oprah Magazine, LA Weekly, Canadian Business, Swerve, Runner’s World, Wired, The Walrus, Maisonneuve, Quill & Quire, Uppercase Gallery, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers & more. See more of his work at byronegg.com.
Special thanks to Melissa Myers for conducting this interview with Byron for the NMAF.
Read more about the National Magazine Award for Best New Illustrator or Photographer.
Byron Eggenschwiler in the National Magazine Awards archive:
“How the Nest was Done” (Cottage Life); Honourable Mention, Illustration 2013
“Post-Secondary Distress” (More); Gold Medal, Spot Illustration, 2011
“Towns on the Brink” (Up Here); Honourable Mention, Illustration, 2011
“A Family Falling Out” (More); Honourable Mention, Spot Illustration, 2011
“Death of the Salesman” (Canadian Business); Silver Medal, Illustration, 2011
“Can You Have a Midlife Crisis on a Bicycle?” (Swerve); Silver Medal, Spot Illustration, 2010
“Outlaw Country” (Maisonneuve); Honourable Mention, Spot Illustration, 2009
“Be Worried–Don’t Be Happy” (Swerve); Gold Medal, Spot Illustration, 2008
The Canadian photographer, now based in New York, won the Gold National Magazine Award last year in Portrait Photography, for “Never Left Art School” (a series with Douglas Coupland) in Montecristo magazine. He was previously a finalist for the Best New Visual Creator award in 2010, for “A Man Called Cope” (Report on Business).
The exhibition, “Pictures,” is on display until December 21.
From the O’Born Contemporary site: Working within portraiture and documentary photography, Peckmezian attempts to leverage the analog-digital divide, producing work that draws into relief the enduring value of analog processes in our new digital-dominated photographic landscape. He recently completed his BFA in Photography from Ryerson University in Toronto, and is represented for commercial and editorial work by Stash. His photographs have been published in Prefix Photo, on the cover of Report on Business and Function, and have been selected for inclusion in Flash Forward, touring internationally.
Make your summer reading the National Magazine Awards digital Gold Book. More than forty magazine stories and visual spreads representing the Gold winners from the 36th annual National Magazine Awards, available FREE for your computer or mobile device.
Including National Magazine Award-winning work by these Canadian literary and visual artists:
Caroline Adderson, Dave Cameron, Karen Connelly, Craig Davidson, Sierra Skye Gemma, Jessica Johnson, Tom Jokinen, Peter Ash Lee, Angus Rowe MacPherson, Greg McArthur, Leah McLaren, Conor Mihell, Jonathan Montpetit, Alison Motluk, Mark Peckmezian, Graeme Smith, Emma Teitel, Chris Turner, Jeff Warren, Sam Weber and more!
With stories from Canada’s best magazines, including Adbusters, Avenue, Azure, Canada’s History, Canadian Notes & Queries, Eighteen Bridges, Explore, Geist, Maclean’s, Maisonneuve, Reader’s Digest, Report on Business, Sportsnet, The Feathertale Review, The Grid, The New Quarterly, The Walrus, Toronto Life and more!
Congratulations to all of this year’s National Magazine Award winners, and happy summer reading to all!
The award for Best New Visual Creator is one of our special awards, which recognizes excellence in illustration, photography or digital image creation by a young Canadian artist in a Canadian magazine. [Version française ici]
Submissions in this category are open to students as well as young magazine artists whose early work in Canadian magazines shows the highest degree of craft and promise.
The competition is open to work published during 2012 in either print or digital Canadian magazines, including online magazines and tablet editions. Individuals may enter their own work (see the full requirements here), but editors, art directors and teachers are encouraged to nominate the talented young artists they’ve worked with, even discovered.
- Entry Fee: $25
- Deadline: January 16, 2013
- Requirements: Tear sheets plus a letter of recommendation
- Finalists: A shortlist of 3 finalists will be announced May 1, 2013
- Winners: The winner will be revealed at the NMA Gala on June 7, 2013
- Prize: The winner receives a cash prize of $500, a certificate, industry recognition on stage, and promotion of their work in various NMAF publications; the other two finalists will receive Honourable Mention, a certificate, various publicity, and their work will appear in the NMA archives.
- More information: Visit our website for complete submissions and award details.
- To Submit: Click here to register online.
Last year’s three finalists included a photographer, a digital illustrator, and a visual-arts collective. The winner was The Coveteur, for their curation called “Strictly Top Shelf” in Report on Business magazine (below).
Read our interview with The Coveteur about their National Magazine Award and their visual creations.
The inaugural winner of this award in 2009 was illustrator Byron Eggenschwiler, now a multiple National Magazine Award winner who also designed the creative for the 33rd National Magazine Awards. Byron was a double winner at the 2011 National Magazine Awards, with a Gold in Spot Illustration and a Silver in Illustration.
The submissions deadline is January 16, 2013.
Related Post: Off the Page, with The Coveteur
Off the Page is an exclusive series produced by the NMAF that reaches out to former National Magazine Award winners to find out what their awards have meant to them and what they’re up to now. Off the Page will appear each Thursday on the Magazine Awards blog during the fall of 2012. This week we catch up with the 2011 winners of Best New Visual Creator: The Coveteur. The Coveteur are designer Erin Kleinberg, stylist Stephanie Mark and photographer Jake Rosenberg.
NMAF: At this year’s National Magazine Awards The Coveteur was named Canada’s Best New Visual Creator for your spread “Strictly Top Shelf” in Report on Business magazine. First of all, what is The Coveteur, and where does it make the biggest impact on the world of fashion and style?
The Coveteur: The Coveteur takes you into the closets of today’s celebrities and fashion icons so you can discover their unique style. Our site features exclusive photography and videos and provides a behind the scenes community for fashion lovers. Our followers can collect and share their favorite images in their own “closet” and then shop the look of Coveteurs from around the globe—from New York to Paris, London and beyond.
We make an impact by redefining the way people shop and the way they view the still-life by showcasing the styles of today’s tastemakers in a new light that is also shoppable.
NMAF: How did you get involved with Report on Business, and how did you develop your winning piece—which the judges lauded for “magnifying the desirability of objects”; “a perfect balance of style and composition”—for the magazine?
The Coveteur: We are loyal readers of Report on Business and we were thrilled and honoured when they approached us to contribute. We created a holiday gift guide in signature Coveteur fashion and arranged the products in such a way that brings them to life and makes each one appear as a character in an environment.
Our community enjoys the quirk of an image—a stuffed monkey wearing a pair of designer glasses styled amongst other great products—as it highlights the product when showcased in an unexpected, eccentric way. Keeping the sophisticated Report on Business reader in mind, we chose exceptional, high-end products for the feature.
NMAF: Your online “curations” (coveteurs) seem to borrow a bit from traditional fashion magazine layouts while also being remarkably innovative in tapping the power of social media, digital publishing and e-commerce. What have been some of your influences from the world of magazines—fashion, style, design, etc—while developing this unique approach to exhibition?
The Coveteur: We have all had individual and unique experiences working in these different yet connected areas. Erin worked for W Magazine alongside director Alex White who taught her to push stylistic boundaries, which catches the reader off-guard and calls for a second glance. She recalls a photo shoot with model Doutzen Kroes staged in a field and littered with teddy bears—a consistent quirkiness that has remained an integral part of her styling since.
Stephanie, who went to Parsons [School for Design] for fashion marketing and interned with Kate Lanphear at Elle Magazine, has a keen eye for picking great product from across the globe and is our in-house e-commerce wiz.
Jake’s visual inspiration comes from the work of Ben Watts and his vivid editorial imagery as well as Raymond Meier’s ability to bring product to life through editing. His photography is bright, vivid and intimate, adding a certain “glow” which tells a unique story about each subject and their personal style.
NMAF: Do you have any other current or upcoming projects in magazines to tell us about?
The Coveteur: We just shot an exclusive, eight-page spread for the October/November 2012 issue of Air France Madame magazine filled with the best accessories of the season and shot in our distinct stylistic approach. As for what else is coming up? You’ll just have to stay tuned!
Check out all of fantastic curations of Stephanie, Erin and Jake at thecoveteur.com.