Michael Zavacky

Redgees Legacy Award Winner

Illustrators – Ontario (K, information pills N, more about P postal codes)

The Fiftymen


The Canadian alt-country band hired me to create a poster for a gig they were playing up at the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield, Quebec. That place is so iconic, a nice wooden building on the banks of the river set below the rolling Gatineau Hills. I wanted to design something that reflected the beauty of that setting and also something that said something about the band and their music. I chose a flying owl as the main visual element, flying high above the scene, with a violin clutched in his talons. Did he just grab that from a poor musician down below? There’s a sense on playful mischief to it, like their music. I chose earthy, forest colors and kept the pallette limited. This was created almost entirely in Adobe Illustrator. It may be the one illustration I have done that has garnered the most accolades – more importantly, the band and their fans loved it!


Draplin – McM Creative Workshop Poster, 2015

Aaron Draplin was invited to be the guest mentor at the first
McMillan agency’s creative workshop. I had met Draplin a few month’s earlier and wanted to create a poster that somehow captured his essence and also portrayed something of it being in Canada. The first thing that came to my mind is that he is an imposing man, a large presence in many ways – not just physically. So this concept of “a mountain of a man” came to mind and then his voyage to the Great White North seemed to fit. Mount Rushmore of design. The Rockies, winter, snowstorms, Northern Lights – all things that ran through my mind as I designed this poster. I know he loves big solid shapes so I used a basic geometrical design that also harkens back to some of the iconic Canadian designers of the 60’s and 70’s that Draplin loves. And I printed it out BIG, 4 feet tall. He loved it and it received the most likes if anything he ever posted on Instagram, also won a few illustration awards.

Ottawa International Animation Festival

OIAF INNER CHILD Campaign, 2013

The Ottawa International Animation Festival is the largest of its kind in North America. I was involved in creating the illustrations for a set of poster to promote the 2013 event. We chose a them of getting in touch with your inner child, but maybe not in a way you would expect. I wanted the art to be somewhat whimsical and quirky – but have a dark side that might make you smile. Much like the films shown at the festival. In each poster a big strange creature interacts with your inner child in a way your mom might have warned you about as a kid. I used nice flat shapes with lots of textures and bright colours to stand out well against the black background. This poster campaign won a ton of awards and received a lot of attention, but also helped to drive ticket sales up 30% for the event, so the client was overjoyed!

Lynne Hanson

Lynne Hanson Summer Concerts, 2014

Lynne Hanson is a Canadian country/folk singer and she hired me to design a a poster to promote her summer tour. I noticed that she was playing a lot of small clubs in rural parts of Ontario and I wanted to reflect that in my design. I came up with the idea of trees, forest, animals and how her music fits in so well with that environment. So I had her guitar actually become one of the trees and chose three different woodland creatures to be living inside her instrument.
It’s meant to be a but whimsical, like her music and convery and elegant yet playful tone. Dark colors with a subdued palette than slightly changes on each poster. Meant to stand and out and take notice. Instead of just doing one poster, I designed a set of three for visual variety and interest.


McMillan Christmas Cards, 2014

McMillan commissioned me to design and produce a set of holiday greeting cards to be sent to all of their clients as a gift. The chief mandate is that it had to be something that would impress, they wanted their clients to open the package and go “wow!” I had received and old curling sweater from my mother a few weeks back and decided to use that as my inspiration. I designed a set of four sweaters featuring iconic Canadian symbols on each one. AND I chose a different McMillan employee to be the model for each one. In order to make sure these cards gave the right impression of quality when seen, I decided to have them letterpresss printed on beautiful paper. I tracked down a local printer and actually helped in the printing process, a true labour of love. The set of cards were received with great enthusiasm and also gained some attention on design sites, awards, etc.

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