Ariel Clipperton poses with Dana Peers, President & Chairman of the Board and her piece of art at the poster reveal on Monday, November 4, 2019.

It’s a sunny day in August. Ariel Clipperton uses her favourite medium, chalk pastel, to put the finishing touches on a piece of art. But this isn’t just any piece of art; this work will change her life.

Clipperton’s journey down this path of artistic discovery began more than a year ago, long before the final touches of pastel were smudged on paper as rays of summer sunlight warmed the room. It began with a leap of faith, encouragement from her two art teachers and a hopeful submission to the Calgary Stampede Poster Competition, which began in 2018 as a new addition to the Stampede’s many youth achievement programs. For Clipperton, it provided the opportunity to join a select group of talented young artists looking to learn and elevate their skills through mentorship and workshops. And now, it will also provide her with the opportunity to showcase her work on a world stage.

Step forward in time – several weeks have passed since she carefully secured the finished work in a box, so as not to smudge the delicate chalk, and delivered it to be critiqued in hopes of being chosen as the artwork for the 2020 Calgary Stampede poster. Clipperton makes her way to Stampede Park to meet with Dana Peers, President & Chairman of the Board, not knowing what to expect.

“I walked in the room and was greeted by Dana,” says Clipperton. “We had a brief chat about my piece and my summer as we walked towards a connecting room. That’s when I saw it.  A display of my artwork lit up before my eyes. I had won!”

After the shock subsided, it started to set in for Clipperton that, from this moment on, her life would change.

Watch the 2020 Calgary Stampede reveal video above.

“This is an incredible opportunity, not only as a young artist, but as an ambassador of the program and the Stampede. It’s truly an honour,” beams Clipperton.

Harry the Horse; M. Mousseau, Principal of the Calgary French & International School Secondary Division; Mme. Crowley-Granger, Art Teacher; Ariel Clipperton, 2020 Calgary Stampede Poster Artist; 2020 Stampede Princess, Janelle Mackenzie; 2020 Stampede Queen, Kelcey Moore; 2020 First Nations Princess, Falon Manywounds and Dana Peers, President & Chairman of the Board, Calgary Stampede.

To put it into perspective, the Calgary Stampede poster is the oldest and most iconically recognized promotion, dating back to the very first Stampede in 1912. Every year, approximately 30,000 posters are distributed worldwide, and the image can be seen adorning official Stampede merchandise on everything from belt buckles to pins and blankets.

Now in its third year, the Calgary Stampede Poster Competition invites Alberta youth between the ages of 15-24 to submit their artwork to be reviewed by a panel of judges, made up of esteemed artists and members of the Alberta arts community. The competition has three submission phases for those who advance throughout. After the initial submission, the top 30 are selected and mentored, working with local artists to develop their vision for what the next Calgary Stampede Poster could be. The competitors then create and submit a maquette of their poster vision for consideration in the spring. Next, the panel of judges select the top eight, who will once again receive mentorship and guidance on their piece, before submitting their final poster in the summer.

“We are honoured to have Ariel as the 2020 Calgary Stampede Poster artist and are extremely proud of her talent and passion for the arts,” said Dana Peers, President & Chairman of the Calgary Stampede Board of Directors. “It’s a pleasure to award her one of the largest art scholarships in Canada and witness her growth throughout the competition, which is what our youth programs are really about.”

Mme. Crowley-Granger and Ariel Clipperton pose for a photo together.

The inspiration for entering the competition came from her art teachers, Mme. Crowley-Granger from the Calgary French & International School and Loretta Secord, who teaches Ariel at Swinton’s Art Studio.

“I worked on my maquette with their guidance, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without learning from both of them,” shares Clipperton.

Clipperton loves the Stampede and has fond family memories of attending the Stampede Rodeo.

The Clipperton family has fond memories of attending the Stampede Rodeo.

“Growing up, my family and I always went to the rodeo, so I really wanted to show that in my piece. To me, the cowboy is the most iconic symbol of western culture.  I wanted to show the Rodeo from a competitor’s perspective, celebrating the sport,” says Clipperton.

Her piece was based on a photograph captured by Stampede photographer, Bill Marsh, taken behind the iconic Calgary Stampede chutes.

Stampede photographer Bill Marsh, who captured the original photo, and Ariel.

The piece was revealed November 4 at Clipperton’s school, the Calgary French & International School.

“As a school, we were honoured to not only have one of our students win the competition, but to host the reveal. It was very exciting for our students and staff,” said M. Mousseau, Principal of the Secondary Division at the Calgary French & International School.

Clipperton’s piece will now become part of Stampede history as it is shared with the world as the 2020 Calgary Stampede Poster. Her adventure, however, is just beginning.

Ariel poses with her fellow classmates at the poster reveal.

“I am so excited to embark on this journey and plan to pursue a career where I will use my artistic abilities. Thank you to my family, my teachers and, of course, the Stampede for creating this wonderful opportunity,” says Clipperton.

Ariel practises her signature on 2020 Stampede posters.

The Calgary Stampede Youth Poster Competition continues with applications open until November 30, 2019, for the 2021 competition. If you or someone you know is a talented young Alberta artist between the ages of 15-24, please encourage them to apply. To learn more, please visit calgarystampede.com/postercompetition.