Youngstown artist makes top 30 in Calgary Stampede poster competition

Written by Terri Huxley

Sage Nelson stands proudly with her various artforms including leatherwork, drawing and mohair designs. ECA Review/Submitted

Sage Nelson is a fifth-generation rancher with a knack for all kinds of different western art forms.

The Calgary Stampede announced on March 8 their top 30 poster competitors for the official 2022 poster which Nelson made.

From the prairies south of Youngstown, Alta., Nelson has attributed much of her style to her upbringing and affinity for the western way of life.

“I’ve always been drawn to the western side of things like the heritage and tradition side of things. I love focusing on little details like that and it’s just easier for me to draw that because I have a tie to it and I’m actually inspired to make art around western heritage,” said Nelson.

Being exposed to this side of life has made it easy to embrace her talent by simply walking outside and finding beauty.

This passion came in handy in 2018 as well when she took home third place for her poster submission.

This was the first year the Calgary Stampede stopped hiring commissioned artists in favour of running a youth contest with scholarship money and other opportunities as the reward.

“It’s always been a hobby [for me],” said Nelson.

She mentioned she has always been artistic since she was little, noting taking an art program at her school helped hone her skills as well as more technical classes in post secondary.

Nelson not only draws but has been focusing on leatherwork and custom mohair tack.

When asked what the appeal of drawing was compared to her other projects she said “From the beginning – just like the ease of it and access to materials like all you needed was a pencil and paper whereas leatherwork and mohair along with the majority of materials that you need and also a lot more skill is required to get a finished product whereas a pencil and paper – you can be totally creative and always get something good in the end.”

Now in the top 30, Nelson has the opportunity to dive into what she wishes to draw for the final submission, gathering inspiration as she goes along.

She hasn’t decided just yet what to base her image on but is coming up with ideas and sketching for now.

“I’m really excited. I know that in the end that based off the past years that each one of the top 30 contestants are going to create something incredible and it’s going to represent the stampede so well whatever their vision is and I’m just so excited to have the opportunity again to represent western heritage on a big scale like the Calgary Stampede,” she said.

Ages 15 to 24 can apply, sending in any form of 2D mediums.

The top 30 artists will have a unique opportunity to learn and elevate their skills at a masterclass workshop taught by experienced local artists.

Once the top eight are selected, they will refine their skills through one-on-one mentorship and artistic development coaching to help their poster vision come to life.

Finalists will also learn about the Calgary Stampede through a variety of inspiring experiences, highlighting western hospitality, inclusivity, culture and community spirit.

Nelson is currently studying in the Primary Care Paramedic Program at NAIT.


Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.