My first artwork of 2013 on this blog! πŸ™†πŸ½

Since I first began drawing, I’ve always loved the idea of printing my characters onto different kinds of merchandise, like T-shirts, tote bags, pencil cases and even mouse mats. (I once accomplished this in primary school, where I had a painting of mine printed onto a mouse mat, and it was used with my own computer for many years! I still have it somewhere around today.)

Although I mostly create characters for various purposes, notably for writing stories or drawing with, I had never before created them solely for selling merchandise. This gave me an idea – channel my undying love of Canada into creating a design range featuring the best of Canadian geography and culture. Not Canadian Boys or even Project Canada, but something a little different.

Taking a bit of The Provinces & Territories Show and Project Canada, I mixed the two together to make Canada Cool. So-named because of the dark sunglasses all the province and territory characters wear, which is the stereotypical ‘cool’ image seen in many a movie or poster, as well as packing alliterative appeal and a small jab at the famously bitterly-cold Canadian winters, the plan was to create merchandise featuring each one or more of the characters and a few things from their home province/territory. Due to a shortage of funds, however, I never did get around to actually printing and producing the merchandise, but I did draw a few artworks for the range.

And even though the characters were designed specifically for the purposes of being merchandised, they do have their own bios, each of which reflects their home province/territory’s distinctive culture and geography:

  • British Columbia

A coffee, marijuana and surfing addict. He uses his home as a giant greenhouse for growing his own ‘grass’ and smoking it. His favourite food is Pacific salmon, and he can never start the day without grabbing a cup of coffee from Starbucks or Second Cup (he thinks Tim Horton’s is too ‘mainstream’, at least in Canada). He loves to spend his summers surfing at the beaches on Vancouver Island, and his winters skiing and snowboarding in Whistler.

  • Alberta

A mechanic. He uses a lot of oil for his job, with the result that he has it splashed all over him, so he wears gumboots and carries a cloth rag with him. He makes a lot of money due to playing a small part in the oil industry. When he isn’t fixing cars, he loves to watch rodeos at the Calgary Stampede, sometimes riding on the cattle himself.

  • Saskatchewan

A wheat farmer. He spends hot sunny days out in the vast fields slicing away at wheatstalks with his scythe, tanning himself as brown as a berry. He always appears to be chewing on a stalk of wheat. While normally hidden from view, he has a scar on his stomach from when he tripped up onto the blade of his scythe, causing him to require stitches and hospitalization.

  • Manitoba

A shoveller. Every winter, he keeps drivers safe by digging away excess snow, and sometimes amuses himself by building snow sculptures with it. He also likes to enjoy the outdoors by hunting, fishing, or going to see polar bears and the Northern Lights in Churchill.

  • Ontario

The brash and obnoxious Ontario is a huge hockey fan. Having a decal of the CN Tower printed on his shirt, he loves to profess his ‘excellence’ at playing hockey, but he is in fact pretty poor at it. This doesn’t stop him bragging, however.

  • Quebec

A French-Canadian cook. He specializes in baking things such as cupcakes and cookies, but he also loves to make and eat his favourite dish, the quintessially Quebecois poutine of French fries, gravy and cheese. Though he is bilingual in both English and French, he prefers French more, even declaring it to be his only recognized language. He has a bit of a rebellious side to him for this reason, wishing for independence in defiance of the others who want him to remain Canadian.

  • New Brunswick

A sailor. As well as sailing the high – and low – seas, he has a part-time job as a lumberjack, chopping down trees in the forests with his axe ad hammer. His left arm is decorated with nautically-inspired tattoos, most notably an anchor and sea waves. For very special occassions, he likes to eat fiddleheads.

  • Nova Scotia

A fiddler and bagpiper. He brings music to the table and party with his sweet melodies, but he actually has quite a sharp tongue, and can easily become provoked if someone or something rubs him up the wrong way. His speech is marked with a strong Cape Beton twang, despite being ‘born’ in Halifax, from whose infamous explosion in 1917 he received his scars and burns. He is a huge fan of seafood, especially lobster and scallops.

  • Newfoundland & Labrador

A fisherman. Sailing out to sea daily to catch fresh fish, he is sometimes seen with a codfish in his hand. Many people have difficulty understanding him because of his very strong regional accent, leading to him being the butt of many bad jokes and stories.

  • Prince Edward Island

A potato farmer. He has a small connection to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, having the former’s Scottish heritage and the latter’s love of the sea. In addition to growing potatoes in the red-tinged fields, he sometimes goes catching oysters. He loves Anne of Green Gables, and his seaside cottage is inspired by her house.

  • Yukon Territory

A gold miner. He pans in rivers and digs underground with his pickaxe, very occasionally striking it rich. He goes places with his husky dogs, during which he may catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. He often simply gets called “Yukon”.

  • Northwest Territories

A hunter. He carries a small moose model around with him, possibly to signify his hunting abilities, along with a sharp spear, which he hunts and fishes with. He wears snowshoes over his boots to help him navigate tough areas which are steeped in snow.

  • Nunavut

Another hunter, much like Northwest Territories. Also carrying a sharp spear, he can stab a target over half a mile away, and can swipe up a fish from below the ice in a matter of a split second. He uses a combination of huskies, snowshoes and his snowmobile to get around.

Following on is a a gallery of addtional artworks I drew for the design range, including a few designs for some city characters, who are a sort of spin-off from the province and territory characters, and who all also wear dark sunglasses: