Leonard Cohen

Illustrated by Yarek Waszul

Helped Polaris Music Prize commission an eclectic group of Canadian illustrators for their poster series.


Illustrated by Studio Tipi

The Polaris Music Prize is a not-for-profit organization that annually honours and rewards artists who produce Canadian music albums of distinction. A select panel of music critics judge and award the prize without regard to musical genre or commercial popularity every year.

At the beginning of 2016, Polaris approached The Office of Gilbert Li for help commissioning Canadian artists to illustrate posters for new Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize series, as well as their ongoing annual poster series for the award.

Our approach

As the creative directors for the poster series, the studio curated an inclusive pool of Canadian illustrators, striving to create equal opportunities for artists across all backgrounds and provinces. The illustrator brief was very open: each artist would create their own visual interpretation of the album they were paired with.

Two framed posters on a mantle

Illustrated by Cristian Fowlie (left) and Jacqui Oakley (right)

My role

As the lead on the project, I ensured we had a large slate of well-researched candidates. I also had the pleasure of directly reaching out to and briefing most of the chosen illustrators. My responsibilities also included reviewing the sketches with the client, providing the illustrators with additional feedback or support as needed, ensuring the final artwork was provided according to the printer's guidelines, and liaising with the printer.


The most rewarding part of working on this project was seeing the artists and illustrators engage over their shared love of music. Also someone got one of the posters tattooed on their body. That’s pretty cool!

Fandom taken to the next level

The work above was commissioned in close collaboration with Steve Jordan and Claire Dagenais from Polaris Music Prize, and Gilbert Li. Studio of record: The Office of Gilbert Li.

Every poster was silkscreened in an edition of 44 by Kid Icarus in Toronto. Most of the posters are available for purchase on the Polaris website.