Off the Page: Lauren Tamaki

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Off the Page is a regular interview series featuring National Magazine Award winners. In this interview, we catch up with Lauren Tamaki. Lauren is a Canadian illustrator who currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. At the 41st annual NMAs, Lauren won Gold in the category of Illustration, for “Get the Scissors,” published in The Walrus. Read on to learn more about her creative process, use of acrylic ink, and future projects.

tamaki1.pngThe visuals you created for this comedic piece balanced perfectly with a harsh reality for women everywhere. You bridge the gap so seamlessly between the text and visual and you and Scaachi perfectly complement each other to appreciate humour all the while documenting hardship. The story challenges cultural codes and conventions of femininity—did you consider the social undertone a privilege or a responsibility to represent in your work, and what were the most important story arcs in Scaachi’s editorial that shaped your work?

When illustrating an article, I feel responsibility to the author! Because Scaachi’s book (the piece was an excerpt from her book One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter) is about the experience of a woman of colour and women’s bodies, it’s inherently political. The STRUGGLE was what I wanted to communicate in the illustration; you feel the desperation mount as the story progresses!

The projects featured in your online portfolio experiment with a lot of watercolour. Do you like to be variant with your use of media choice and do you strategically chose particular media for each project you do?

Everything you think is watercolour on my site is actually coloured acrylic ink. I think choice of medium and the application of that medium plays a big part of a final piece—black ink can be swooshy and fun or very precise, for example. I chose to go with frantic pencil vibes for Scaachi’s story because it suited the mood perfectly (tornadoes of scribbled hair, etc).

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On your website, you have completed illustrations under the subject ‘Runway’ in your Fashion and Beauty category. In comparing these two projects from the ‘model’ to dealing with body image and identity, how did you shift gears into “Get The Scissors” to offer a distressing dressing room experience instead of a glamourous one?

It’s a joy and a responsibility to depict women of all shapes and sizes. It’s not a hard mental shift for me to go from fashion to something more realistic. The story did not call for a glamourous vibe—it details something SO many of us have gone through, so I wanted it to be grounded. Even though Scaachi is a pretty glamorous woman, she keeps it real, as the kids (used to) say.

In 2017, you sketched the Bill Cosby Trial for The New York Times. In 2009 you graduated in Fashion Design and in 2011, you went on to graduate with a second Bachelor of Arts in Design. What initiated the transition from fashion and design into editorial art?

I always knew I wanted to be an illustrator… my fashion design degree was a way of putting it off, to be perfectly honest. I worked in the fashion industry only eight months before I went back to school for Visual Communications at ACAD, which was the best decision of my life! All I’ve ever wanted to do is draw.

In the future, in what area and for which platform to do you want the focus of your work to be in?

More fashion please! I know I’ve been downplaying the whole fashion thing, but I do really really love it. I was never meant to make clothes, but I sure do love drawing the visions of fabulous designers. I’ve also always wanted to do a series for an opera (COC, looking at you) or a series for a theatre season!

 

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You have worked with an extensive list of clients and your ‘bragging’ section online is an archive of recent awards, including your NMA award. What does your Gold Illustration Award mean to you as an artist?

It was quite a surprise! The Walrus submitted the illustration, which meant I forgot about it, so when I got the email about the nomination, I was like… neat!!! When I walked into the awards show and saw the scale, the time and care that had been put into every aspect, then I started to get nervous! Winning the gold was very unexpected. The Scaachi illustration was simple and the other nominees had really involved, detailed pieces! I was blown away. The fact I made an illustration in a style I care about won something? Incredible.

Which Canadian publication is on your radar to work with next?

I would love to illustrate more books and there is no shortage of incredible publishers in Canada—Tundra, Drawn & Quarterly… In terms of magazines, there are so so many beautiful Canadian publications… and they all should call me! Haha! Also, 48 North just released a stunning magazine called Latitude that I’d love to work on.


In addition to her National Magazine Award, Lauren has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, Society of News Design, and American Illustration. Her most recent project involved illustrating Caroline Paul’s book, You Are Mighty: A Guide to Changing the World (Bloomsbury, May 2018). You can read more about Lauren’s work here.

Interview conducted by Bethany Browne.

The call for entries for the 2019 National Magazine Awards opens on December 17, 2018. Click here for more information on submissions.

Best Illustration in Canadian Magazines: 40th National Magazine Awards nominees


The National Magazine Awards jury reviewed a wonderful selection of candidates for this year’s award for Best Illustration from magazines and artists across the country.
On April 20 we announced the nominees for the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards, and we are excited to welcome Canada’s best illustrators, art directors, writers, editors, and more to the gala on May 26. [Tickets]

Here’s a close-up look at the nominees for Best Illustration.

Tous menteurs ?
L’actualité
Gérard Dubois, illustrateur
Jocelyne Fournel, directrice artistique


Une vie sexuelle pour les prêtres ? Pourquoi pas ?
L’actualité
Gérard Dubois, illustrateur
Jocelyne Fournel, directrice artistique


Crib Notes
Maisonneuve
Selena Wong, illustrator
Anna Minzhulina, art director
Andrea Bennett, editor
Daniel Viola, editor-in-chief



Move or Improve?
MoneySense
Steven P. Hughes, illustrator
John Montgomery, art director



Trump, une anomalie qui nargue les politologues
Québec Science
Dushan Milic, illustrateur
François Émond, directeur artistique
Marie Lambert-Chan, rédactrice en chef



Fly Away Little Bird
THIS Magazine
Jori van der Linde, illustrator
Valerie Thai, art director



The Hidden Epidemic
University of Toronto Magazine
Gracia Lam, illustrator
Gilbert Li, art director
Scott Anderson, editor



Astronaut Wives
Vancouver Magazine
Byron Eggenschwiler, illustrator
Paul Roelofs, art director
Anicka Quin, editor



How did Wreck Beach get Naked?
Vancouver Magazine
Byron Eggenschwiler, illustrator
Paul Roelofs, art director
Stacey Maclachlan, editor


The winner of the National Magazine Award for Best Illustration will be announced on May 26 at the 40th anniversary NMA Gala in Toronto.
Tickets are on sale now.
Check out all the nominees for the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards.
Follow us on Twitter @MagAwards for all the nominations news and an awesome live feed on the night of the gala. #NMA40.

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 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.