This year’s City Paper Music Award winners will receive a trophy plaque featuring an original design by Tami Boyce, a local graphic designer-illustrator who creates children’s books when she’s not drawing for Frothy Beard Brewing or putting out her own prints.
“I call my work ‘doodles with humor and heart,’” says Boyce. “I have a cartoon-y, whimsical style. I draw a lot of animals doing weird things ... I like to think [about how] they behave in their natural habitat when there’s no one else around.” And that explains why Mort the Grumpy Narwhal is playing the triangle on this year’s trophy illustration, which was colored and textured digitally before being printed onto metal.
Boyce’s style is inspired by all kinds of characters and happenstance. Her work is predominantly illustration-focused, yet her process relies heavily on her background in graphic design. “I gave this professional talk recently and I feel like my whole career has been a very happy accident,” she says. “My heart kind of pulls in a direction ... and it just leads to new avenues and unexpected stuff.”
- Ruta Smith
Boyce’s character Mort is from an already-established series; “Whenever I see that narwhal, it makes me happy.” In the same week that she recently came across Mort again while cleaning her studio, she was asked to do the trophy art. “And I just felt that it was connected,” she said. And so she redrew him.
Boyce was happy to finally give the narwhal the spotlight. “Whenever I print my art on metal, the colors come out really vibrant and cool,” she says. “I thought that would be a fun, different way for someone to have an award.”
Boyce’s carte blanche attitude is maintained by the rules of design. “I sell my own art and prints. That’s my realm to do whatever I want. I like to have my graphic design side and my illustration side and my art side. I have a different creative outlet depending on my mood.”