The Calgary Stampede Poster Competition is about more than just the poster, or a piece of artwork. It’s a journey of self-discovery, growth, creativity and passion for 30 talented young artists each year. It’s also an experience that they will never forget.

The Calgary Stampede looks to empower the spirited youth in our community through a number of educational and arts programs, like the Youth Poster Competition. These programs not only help build leadership capability, but they give youth the opportunity to learn and grow. Ariel Clipperton is just one of the many talented youth who has emerged from the Poster Competition, and whose passion and hard work allowed her to become the 2020 Calgary Stampede Poster artist. In January, Clipperton had the opportunity to visit Stampede School, which is another of the Stampede’s youth development programs, to speak to the students in Grade 5 from St. Mark’s and a Grade 2 class from Andrew Sibbald about her journey thus far, her art and how the Poster Competition program has changed her life.

“I spoke to the students about my journey as an artist from the time I was their age until now,” said Clipperton. “Both classes were so attentive and engaged, especially when we did a drawing activity and they were able to show their understanding, express themselves and ask lots of questions.”

2020 Poster artist Ariel Clipperton talks to the students about her journey.

Clipperton shared with the students the process for creating her piece and also talked to the students about the importance of self-expression.

“I overheard one student telling her teacher that the biggest thing she took away from our discussion was that every artist’s opinion matters and that no one should be fearful of expressing themselves. I was so happy to hear this, because I know that self-expression creates confidence in young people,” added Clipperton.

Clipperton coaches the students through a drawing activity at Stampede School.

Clipperton was selected to participate in the program from a large pool of entries; she was chosen as one of the top 30, and from there she advanced to the top eight, where she was then awarded the top prize as the 2020 Poster artist.

“Throughout the course of the program I was provided with coaching from not only both of my art teachers, but also by the Stampede. They have several artists who work with each artist in the top 30 and top eight to provide valuable feedback and really help you bring your vision for the poster to life,” said Clipperton.

This year the program is offering the top 30 artists the opportunity to participate in three masterclass sessions. Two of the sessions will be led by local professional artists, Doug Levitt and Michelle Grant, both of whom are past poster artists themselves, and will focus on different techniques that the top 30 can incorporate into their next submission for the 2021 poster.

“It’s really wonderful to see the top 30 so eager to learn and participate in the process,” said Steve McDonough, First Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Calgary Stampede. “I’m looking forward to seeing how they take what they learn and create their vision for the 2021 Stampede Poster and through their art, share how the Stampede resonates with them personally.”

Each fall, the Calgary Stampede welcomes interested applicants who are between the ages of 15-24 from across Alberta to attend an information session and submit their work for consideration into the competition. From there, a panel of judges reviewed the submissions using set criteria to determine the top 30 artists. The top 30 then attend masterclass workshops and work closely with the incoming President and artist mentors to help guide their vision along the way.

After they submit their initial vision for the poster, the top 8 are selected, who then work to refine their final pieces, before a winner is chosen.

“It’s really a terrific program. I have learned so much about myself as an artist. Attending Stampede School and speaking to the students was just one of the amazing experiences I’ve had since being chosen as the winner of the 2020 Poster Competition. I am looking forward to seeing where this journey takes me. Already, I have applied to post-secondary school programs that will help further my development as an artist in the professional world. This program has really helped make my dreams a reality,” shared Clipperton.

To learn more about the Calgary Stampede Poster Competition, please visit calgarystampede.com/postercompetition.

About Stampede School

Stampede School is an immersive educational experience for students in grades 1 to 12 that relocates their classroom to Stampede Park. In their new setting, students and teachers experience deep and innovative learning and make connections to history, agriculture, Indigenous traditions and cultures, and western heritage and values. Students are surrounded by western artifacts, unique cultures, equine classmates, and intriguing guest speakers. Stampede School, a Campus Calgary site, is inquiry-based, innovative, and focused on hands-on experiences. Each class’ week-long experience is customized to fit their particular curriculum and individual needs.

Teachers can apply to have their students visit Stampede School by filling out an application by visiting cbe.ab.ca/ccom/Pages/Apply.aspx.