Edmontonia Trading Cards a showcase for local artists, local history

Unique venture features multiple Faculty of Arts contributors

Donna McKinnon - 13 August 2020

The Edmontonia Trading Cards are the most Edmonton thing to happen to this city since a stack of silver balls met the Quesnell underpass. The cards, the latest project by writer and publishing wunderkind Michael Hingston, is a celebration of all things Edmonton, capturing our history and lore in 60 trading cards designed and illustrated by local artists, including several with direct ties to the Faculty of Arts.

Each pack contains eight cards with text written by Hingston on subject matter ranging from the aforementioned Talus Dome to the End of the Road lookout point above Keillor Road.

“I wanted to find a way of telling these small, quirky stories,” says Hingston, a Vancouverite who fell “big-time” for Edmonton after moving to the city in 2008. “I was taken by all of these odd and charming little details. What's with these magpies? Why are so many city buildings shaped like pyramids? These stories piled up in my mind and I kept trying to think of a fun way to put them all in one place.”

Designed by Justine Ma (‘06 BDes), the cards will resonate with anyone who has ever lived in Edmonton, including local artists and photographers commissioned by Hingston to reimagine the natural, historical and architectural touchpoints drawn from their actual everyday lives.

“The trading card format turned out to be a perfect match, because it allows each card to stand on its own and get its own moment in the spotlight,” said Hingston

One of the contributors, illustrator Valéry Goulet, is a sessional instructor with the Department of Art & Design. Goulet’s illustrations focus on Edmonton’s iconic urban wildlife like the coyote, jackrabbit, squirrel and chickadee, with her illustration of the much-loved, much-maligned magpie gracing the cover of each pack.

“The magpie is the first bird I noticed when I moved from Québec to Edmonton,” says Goulet. “I remember how their plumage impressed me.”

Working from reference images, Goulet developed a colour palette for the whole series (see them here) and then used Procreate and Adobe drawing applications to create the illustrations.

Her favourite image is the jackrabbit. It’s aesthetically pleasing, she says, because of the colour combinations as well the layout and the amount of details captured in the image.  

Jill Stanton (‘09 BFA) contributed the river valley imagery, also digitally created. Since completing her degree, Stanton has gained an international reputation as a muralist, designing many large scale murals across North America. “I got involved with this project because Michael and I worked together on another project with his publishing company, Hingston and Olsen — a cover wraparound illustration for their 2019 Short Story Advent Calendar, a limited edition book box.”

Another contributor, Kelly Mellings (‘00 BFA) co-founded Pulp Studios — an award winning boutique studio specializing in illustration, animation, motion graphics and design — along with fellow alumni Corey Lansdell ('04 BDes). A well-known illustrator, Mellings created the artwork for the national best-selling graphic novel The Outside Circle, written by and based on Senator Patti LaBoucane-Benson's U of A PhD thesis.

Mellings’ illustrations for the cards include some of Edmonton’s weirdest and perhaps most surprising claims to fame, like The Wave (invented by professional cheerleader Krazy George Henderson), the ubiquitous Chicken Dance (the Emeralds recorded the definitive version), the “spontaneous and unauthorized” Accidental Beach, and perhaps the most iconic of all Edmonton ‘landmarks’, the legendary Pothole.


“I would say that Pothole and Accidental Beach are my favourites,” says Mellings. “Pothole because I wanted it to feel epic and give this local inconvenience an epic movie poster feel, and Accidental Beach because I wanted a bit of a vintage magazine illustration feel to it.” 

To ensure that the images rang true, Mellings referenced multiple photos of the Edmonton landmarks and shot his own photos to make sure they felt naturalistic. He even snuck in his wife as the model for Accidental Beach!

Hingston believes the Edmontonia cards offer something for everyone. He hopes to get the cards in the hands of the most people possible, with many local, independent shops leading the way, including the alumni-owned The Prints and the Paper and Glass Bookshop.

“Indie shops are the lifeblood for all kinds of local artists, myself included,” says Hingston. “My sense is that there is no shortage of talented writers and artists, and no shortage of people excited to support them and their work. With the Edmontonia cards, if you've seen the final products, you'll know that everything came together beautifully.”

Read more about the Edmontonia cards here.

Read more about the Department of Art & Design here.