Sask-born Nigel Hood documented SNFU via a series of illustrations. Now he’s doing the same for prairies ghost towns
When Nigel Hood, an Edmonton-based illustrator, first set out to document Can-punk legends SNFU, he had no idea the sprawling poster design he created would lead him to his next project: Saskatchewan ghost towns.
Hood, who was born in Weyburn, designed an illustration for each song from SNFU’s 10 albums (as seen in our feature photo). Eventually reaching 138 images in total – which contains clever visual references to songs like “Rusty Rake” and “Better Than Eddie Vedder” – he combined the illustrations into a massive poster, a piece that he calls a “history document.” Having posted several of the images online through Instagram, the print itself, which he sells through his Etsy shop, is even more impressive in real life.
A former art director for Prairie Dog Magazine in Regina – Hood also designed the current logo for Saskatoon’s Planet S Magazine – the illustrator now has his sights set on his home province.
Hood says that once he finished the SNFU poster he wanted to do something in a similar style but not about music. That’s when he came up with the idea of creating a visual brand for the small towns of Saskatchewan.
“This idea came from that these towns had life and now they don’t,” says Hood. “It’s not necessarily memorializing these places. Some places have a gas station and some don’t. Some just have rocks. There are a lot of these communities that popped up in Saskatchewan, many near railroads. And as some of these rail lines died off and our transportation began changing so too did these communities. People left for bigger cities, like Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw or wherever. And when that happened a lot of culture seemed to die as well. Things like town halls and meeting places weren’t used anymore. And I found it really interesting that there was this big shift in a small amount of time.”
Hood’s Saskatchewan town illustrations, which take a dissimilar visual approach to those that he created for the SNFU, often appear like a modern town crest, a logo crafted from a school of design that appeared long after the municipality itself did.
Traveling from Edmonton through Saskatchewan several times a year, Hood says he drives through many of the towns that he had documented. The illustrator says that the piece he created are a “love letter to the rural idealism of these places.” It’s a nostalgia that he similarly connects with the prairies punk rock shows of his youth.
“When I was doing the SNFU poster the word discarded came up a lot,” says Hood. “There are a lot of people who listened to the band at certain points and then dropped off. It was an interesting parallel. I’m interested in cultural identity in Canada, which feels like something we are lacking in. I don’t know if it’s that Canadian modesty that gets bandied about but it feels like we don’t mythologize ourselves as much as we should. Like, if SNFU was American I feel like they would be on the same level as The Misfits or something.”
While they aren’t yet available in print, Hood says that the end goal of the project is to once again compile the individual designs into a larger piece – something he hopes that will take on a deeper meaning beyond the nostalgia for each small town he has designed a logo for.
“We still love these places,” he says. “I have a friend who lives in Vancouver and we always talk about how we make a point to eat in the town of Chamberlain. It’s this amazing small town cuisine that you can’t get anywhere else. Like the person who cooks the food is also the person who brings it out for you. You just don’t get that anywhere else.”