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News from NLT

March 27, 2015

Christina ~ Philippe

May 1-9, 2015 (Preview April 30)

7:30 pm nightly, no show Mondays
Westbury Theatre in the ATB Financial Arts Barns
(10330-84 Avenue, Edmonton)

Queen Christina of Sweden, who dressed and lived as a man, and Philippe, the Duc D’Orleans and brother to King Louis XIV, who dressed as a woman, are locked in a battle of wits and wills.  Christina/ Philippe by Per Brask is a sensory event made up of a mixture of music, live singing, and verbatim interviews culminating to answer the ultimate question- “Do you dare to be who you really are?”

Congrats to CURIO!

For the past fifteen years years we have worked with the same graphic design studio for all of our website and print materials.  Whether it’s been funky illustrations, bold colors, wicked prints or macro photography of toys doing lewd things to each other, our beloved friend Amanda Schutz and her team at Woodward Design have been critical in developing the look of our season.

Last week Woodward Design announced a huge makeover and a new name Curio Design.

Curio Design

We sat down with the mastermind behind Curio Design, the always delightful Amanda Schutz to chat about what the new logo, name and makeover means for the company.

Amanda Schutz

What does the name Curio Studio mean to you and what made you want to make the change? 

The definition of Curio is a small and unusual object that is considered interesting or attractive. I feel this is the perfect name for our studio given that we are challenged by our clients to create unique, memorable visual concepts. I like to think about the design products and ideas we produce as beautiful little artifacts, displayed in a cabinet of curiosities. 

It was a great time to make a name change given we successfully run under the Woodward name for 12 years. It was time to assess the name, make it feel more relevant to who we are today, and present our brand to existing and new potential clients in a fresh and exciting way.

Your new logo is an adorable mash-up of tools such as a compass and scissors, but if I look at it another way I see a penguin.  What does the logo represent to you?  How many versions of the your new logo did you go through before you said “that’s the one!”

Given that we are studio known for focusing on the visual, it was important for me that the logo present a strong visual concept. The meaning behind the graphic has multiple layers. First, using classic tools speaks to the curio name itself, being old artifacts. Second, the compass and scissors touch on how we bring an element of handcraft to the projects we produce. Despite using lots of digital tools in our work, drawing and cutting things by hand gives our concepts a competitive edge. Finally, the tools overlapping/interacting with each other suggest the client and designer relationship, working together to create an amazing product. 

We’ve received feedback from many people that they also see a penguin in the logo, which is really nice to hear. I can’t say that was 100% intentional, rather a happy accident! As for how many rounds of logos before arriving at the final, too many to count. But, oddly enough, the selected concept is only a slightly modified version of the very first concept I created when I started making the logo. So, the design process came full circle right back to beginning.

You’ve had some new partners join you at Curio in the last year.  Would you like to introduce Graham and Rachel to us? 

Curio snapped Rachel up fresh out of the MacEwan design and illustration program, last spring. This is the first time we have recruited a grad directly out of post secondary. It happened because we really needed help with our workload and we saw so much potential in her portfolio at grad show. I feel it's important to invest in young talent and Rachel’s perspective on design and illustration has brought another layer of dimension to the studio.

Graham came on board in early 2015, also a MacEwan grad, with over 10 years of experience in the design. When you are a small team of three, its equally important to find coworkers that align with your values and philosophy, and Graham gets it. He's a perfect fit for the studio not only because of his vast experience and talent, but his personality blends perfectly with myself and Rachel. 

Overall, we all have a similar way of looking at design process. Graham, Rachel and myself have similar interests in drawing, comics, design and most importantly, eating. It’s perfect!

You recently had a series of large black and white drawings showcased at the Next Act in Edmonton.  How much of your work as a graphic artist is influenced by the sketching, drawing and artwork you do? 

The work I do for my clients naturally impacts my personal illustration/art and vice versa. I use my personal illustration work as an opportunity for experimentation and self expression. Given that I am a commercial illustrator and wish for people to make a relatable connection with the subject matter, I often creating strong narratives with my personal drawings.

With that said, often the results from that work bring to light new ideas for what I could do for my clients. As an example, developing those ink drawings for Next Act really got me excited about getting back to basics and working expressively with a brush and india ink. I immediately started applying this technique to some of our studio clients, creating inked illustrations for Deep Freeze Festival, Where magazine, and a poster illustration for Three Penny Opera (Studio Theatre) late last year. Amazingly enough, the Edmonton Symphony saw my Next Act drawings on instagram and they wanted me to try using this style for the upcoming season materials. In my own work for the studio and the personal work I produce, it all ends up connecting at some point.

Trends in graphic design are constantly changing- from different fonts to new colours. What kinds of graphic design elements are you really liking right now? 

This industry moves at a fast pace, so we always need to be watching and thinking about trends. Handcrafted design has been trending for a number of years now with a surge of silkscreening, paper cut illustration, linocut, letterpress printing and handmade typography. Anything made by hand and applied to design an instant appeal, and many designers would agree with this. Last year I went to India to study sign painting, and while I don’t feel I have the patience for making perfect typography by hand every day, I love the sensibility of something being crafted lovingly by hand. As far as subject matter is concerned, I have been obsessed with the Curio brand for months, so I’m really loving old vintage objects, scientific diagrams, collections of items found in nature, vintage typography/packaging, anything that feels like an old artifact from another time.

You’ve been helping to brand Northern Light Theatre for many years, and in the process you’ve designed with macro photography of toys, created original drawings, and fascinating collages.  Can you recall an image or a design that you’ve done for NLT that’s been your favourite?

We’ve talked about this in the studio before and it’s difficult to pick an absolute favourite year, given that each season has been completely different. If I had to pick, the 2006 season with Patrick Henaff’s comic style illustrations stands out for me. The style is so strong and iconic and really represented the style of and mandate of NLT. Additionally, in 2004 I illustrated an poster for ‘The Beard’ and it was a personal breakthrough in the development of my illustration style, so I feel nostalgic about that one, too!

What to learn more about Curio Studio?  Visit

It's coming…

Online Auction

Your online hook-up to the top gifts and goods
from local businesses and made in
Edmonton merchants
at the prices you won’t find anywhere else

April 30 - May 10, 2015

online only at


What’s Up For Auction? 

A Premium Spice Set from


Online Auction

We sat down with the funky, enthusiastic manager of The Silk Road, Alex Pentyliuk, to chat about her unique and wonderful smelling Whyte Avenue store.  

ELLEN:  Describe your business in three words.

ALEX: Spices, herbs, & deliciousness. 

ELLEN:  When people come into your store, what’s the one thing that they need to check out?  Is it a speciality product?  A piece of funky décor?

ALEX: I highly suggest checking out our amazing selection of bitters.  Traditionally used in cocktails, but they are fantastic for cooking and baking. 

ELLEN:  What makes coming into your store a special experience?

ALEX: Shopping at The Silk Road is a complete departure from how we are used to shopping for spices.  For starters, everything is incredibly fresh, which makes a huge difference when you are dealing with spice.  The entire staff is really passionate about food and trying new things - we are always happy to suggest great ways to use all the strange things you've never heard of, and new ways to use the things you have.  We also offer things in different sizes, so if you just want to try a little bit of galangal in your potato salad or you use a ton of sumac for your home-made potato chips, we have you covered.

ELLEN:  What is your favourite part about having a business on Whyte Avenue?

ALEX: Whyte Ave is such an amazing place for local shopping and dining.  The community has really embraced us in the short time we've been open, which we are so thankful for.

ELLEN: What characteristics make for a great customer or client?

ALEX: Our favourite customers are the ones who are as passionate about making good food at home as we are.  Bonus points if they are adventurous - we love showing off out lesser known offerings.

Online Auction

This item will be available to bid starting April 30, 2015.  To bid go to and click on the “AUCTION” tab.

For more information about The Silk Road Spice Merchants, visit their website at


Tea Pot, Tea Tins and Your Choice of Two Teas from


Online Auction

We chatted with the owner of Acquired Taste Tea Company, Tasha Weenk, about what her local, arts –friendly tea company has to offer. 

ELLEN:  Describe your business in three words.

TASHA:  All about tea!

ELLEN:  When people come into your store, what’s the one thing that they need to check out?  Is it a speciality product?  A piece of funky décor?

TASHA:  The one thing people should do while here is stop and smell. We have all of our teas available in samples for people to smell anything they like! There are over 100 teas available at our smelling table, including several that we blend here in the shop and can only be found here.

ELLEN:  What makes coming into your store a special experience?

TASHA:  Acquired Taste is a cozy destination where you can pop in and pick up your all time favorite tea or to linger smelling the teas finding something completely new to you. We also have a myriad of other tea items so you can wander around finding inspiration for a gift or add to your ever growing tea pot collection.

ELLEN: What is your favourite part about having a business on 124th Street?

TASHA: 124 street is full of businesses who are so supportive of others and so diverse in it's offerings. I love how it is 99% independently owned businesses striving to bring flare, flavor and spirit to this area and to Edmonton.

ELLEN:  What characteristics make for a great customer or client?

TASHA:  Someone with a tea curiosity! There are hundreds of teas to try, you never know which will become your favorite, or which will evoke a memory, or which will complete your Sunday morning routine.

Online Auction

This item will be available to bid starting April 30, 2015.  To bid go to and click on the “AUCTION” tab.

For more information about Acquired Taste Tea Company, visit their website at

NLT turning 40!

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