Canadiana: St. Norbert

I grew up in St. Norbert, a community on the southernmost edge of Winnipeg. It offered the best of both worlds for my formative years - adjacency to a multi-cultural city known for punching above weight in regards to artistic output and a landscape that invited exploration with its fields, forests and historical ruins. My imagination was constantly stimulated and inspired.

Some of my most vivid memories involve exploring this land with a faithful companion and in my three dog life, a ninety pound lab-cross named Reggie often played this role. Taking him out was never a ten minute jaunt but rather a multi-hour journey in which I patiently waited as he chased wild hares, marked every tree, and even stood ground against coyote while I nervously tried to coax him to retreat in the opposite direction. This time spent in nature on the periphery of society gave me deep appreciation for nature, wildlife and our need to conserve it.

The next piece in my Canadiana Collection pays homage to St. Norbert, as well as the magical places (and creatures) I encountered while living there.

Prints and other merchandise available at society6.com/oblada.

St. Norbert/Magical Woodland (©Deborah Clague, 2019).

St. Norbert/Magical Woodland (©Deborah Clague, 2019).

Paris

In anticipation of an upcoming trip to the City of Light, I have immortalized my favourite place in the world - Paris - as part of my series of vintage travel poster designs. New merchandise also available in my shop:

Paris (Night) ©Deborah Clague

Paris (Night) ©Deborah Clague

Paris (Day) ©Deborah Clague

Paris (Day) ©Deborah Clague

Angels and Demons, Portage and Main

I’ve had a creative concept mulling in my head for awhile. I’m still in the process of execution but wanted to share my work as it sits in progress.

The inspiration is my hometown, a place often ostracized for not being beautiful enough, progressive enough or safe enough—arguments that do, I admit, hold a grain of truth but are primarily steeped in ignorance. To many, it is a city that just exists. A sleepy prairie oasis on the Trans-Canada highway acting primarily as a rest stop between Toronto and the more affluent economic hubs of Western Canada.

In a sense, I appreciate this nondescript reputation. It keeps things secret. It keeps things mine.

With this series, which will merge romanticism illustration with modern photography, I aim to celebrate the beauty and ugliness, the darkness and light, of my beloved hometown: Winnipeg.

Winnipeg: Angels and Demons, Portage and Main (©Deborah Clague, 2018)

Winnipeg: Angels and Demons, Portage and Main (©Deborah Clague, 2018)

❤️

I love winter nights spent in sipping hot cocoa. This animated gif started as a sketch which I decided to bring to life as an ode to my favourite beverage of the season (I’m all about the marshmallows and whipped cream).

Project incorporated hand-drawn illustration, Adobe Illustrator for vector creation and Adobe Photoshop to animate. For inquiries on how we can partner on creative work, connect with me:

Animation ©Oblada Creative (2018).

Animation ©Oblada Creative (2018).

Original sketch, done in the margins of some meeting notes, that provided the base for the animation:

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#GirlsWhoCode

Every autumn, as the cool weather sets in and I prepare for winter’s hibernation, a wave of inspiration washes over me and I just feel the need—the necessity—to create. Something. Anything. Winters in Canada are long and unforgiving. I’m thankful to be blessed with the curiosity, patience and skill to use the downtime to master a craft.

As such, I’ve been learning to code in Scratch with the ambition of creating a simple 8-bit video game. It won’t be Fortnight but heck, maybe it will be the next Pong. Below are two character concepts I’ve created for two different games; I want one to celebrate the nature and wonder of my home province of Manitoba, and the other is (of course) my Monty who will star in his own adventure.

Churchill the polar bear from a game concept titled “Churchill Rush” (©Deborah Clague)

Churchill the polar bear from a game concept titled “Churchill Rush” (©Deborah Clague)

My Monty from a game concept titled “A Walk in the Park” (©Deborah Clague)

My Monty from a game concept titled “A Walk in the Park” (©Deborah Clague)

2018 Halloween Animations

While brainstorming and sketching the series of animated gifs I created for Halloween this year, I knew I wanted to incorporate a backdrop not traditionally known for horror. I wanted to skew our perception of familiar, perhaps banal, locations with an air of sinister unease. I finally settled on our workspace, initially concepting the series to include varied occupations like retail and hospitality but finally settling on an office. With a touch of inspiration from Caravaggio, one may now wonder what lurks behind those cubicles.

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Exposure

Years ago when I was starting out, I was approached by an editor who wanted to include a poster series I created in an upcoming publication he was overseeing. At the time, I was ecstatic. Getting to see my work in print for a potential world-wide audience was (and still is) a big deal and the book itself—a higher end coffee table tome featuring artwork by several well-known figures in the industry—seemed a prestige piece that could only enhance my portfolio and professional reputation. High on the possibility of exposure it could entail, I naively agreed to remuneration of just one copy of the book.

I never received a copy of the book.

After attempting to contact the editor numerous times, I instead shelled out sixty dollars (plus shipping and handling) to add it to my library myself. It led to virtually no further work. No art directors were ringing me up. Its milestone in my career was instead a two-fold lesson learned:

1) compared to the other pieces included, there was no doubt I was still a junior in the industry. I needed to cultivate my style and personal brand.

2) exposure means shit. My work, and time, were still deserving of being compensated fairly.

I recently came across a very similar situation to mine after reading reviews for a book I wanted to order:

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The review continues with more evidence that the book was put together by someone who did not value (or properly acknowledge and compensate) the contributions of the people who actually created the content. Needless to say, I immediately took it off my WishList.


I think about this practice often in the new era of “content creation” and how creative professionals have ever more enticing carrots dangled in front of them, all for the possibility of something which may not be defined and often doesn’t come into fruition anyway. It’s a situation ripe for exploitation. People are being conditioned to work for less and to settle for it. The promise of exposure and all it entails, such as new followers, is certainly a form of clout … but the best clout to receive in business is still financial.

Writers, photographers, designers and other artists deserve to be shown the money.