The Georgia Straight has been publishing illustrated covers for more than 50 years. But this week marks the first time we’ve held a contest inviting submissions from B.C. artists.
The winner is Cynthia Frenette, whose cheerful and colourful summertime image encapsulates several things we cherish about Vancouver. She’s a resident of Mission but she spent almost two decades in Vancouver in the 1990s and early 2000s, and she wanted to capture the feeling of living in the city at this time of year.
“One of my favourite things to do in the summer was to ride my bike around the seawall,” Frenette recalled by phone. “I was just kind of thinking about that—going to see bands and about all the different music festivals there are.”
The different colours coming out of the saxophone are a subtle nod to the diversity of the city. She also feels that the summer sky in Vancouver has a pinkish hue, which explains why that colour was chosen.
As for the face of the person on the bicycle, it’s deliberately racially ambiguous—looking both forward and off to the side.
“It could be a man; it could be a woman,” Frenette said. “It could just be a person having fun, enjoying the summer.”
The tattoos on the cyclist’s arm reflect her own passion for body art.
Frenette is no newcomer to the art world. She graduated from Kwantlen University College (now Kwantlen Polytechnic University) in 1991, and her commissions include several paintings at Holmberg House Hospice in Abbotsford.
She also illustrated a cover for the now-defunct City Food magazine and worked as a designer for U.S.–based Robert Kaufman Fabrics.
“That was one lifelong dream,” Frenette said. “There have been 13 collections with them.”
In the past, she sold a line of clothing at a store called Bodacious. In addition, she’s illustrated books on crafts written by Vancouver author Kim Werker. And Frenette sells her art to print-on-demand shops, such as Society6 and Spoonflower.
“I’ll do work by hand and some digitally,” Frenette said. “I work a lot in a program called Procreate, which is really awesome. It’s on my iPad, actually. It’s a heavily illustration-geared app and it’s really fun.”
This was the program that she relied on to create this week’s Georgia Straight cover. Next up is illustrating a children’s book written by a friend.
“This is kind of a personal project,” Frenette revealed. “I’m interested in working with art and text together to tell the whole story.”
To see the runners-up in the contest, go to this link.