sylvia_nickkerson_b.gif Instagram

Recent Work

November 27, 2014: Ebola crisis, The Boston Globe

This brief illustration appeared in The Boston Globeon November 21, 2014. The article by Bina Venkataraman discussed why experimental vaccines for Ebola were still tied up in the lab and not available for use in human subjects. Read it here.


September 10, 2014: Sprout Camp poster


Earlier this summer I illustrated and hand-lettered this poster for the lovely Kelley McKinney, who runs a series of summer camps for kids in the Hamilton area. Sprout Camp gives kids in the city nature experiences, and the camp largely takes place in the green spaces beyond the hustle bustle of city life. Kelly suggested a "five" appear in the illustration, as this summer was the camp's fifth anniversary, hence the five kids exploring a stream and forest path. Happy fifth anniversary Sprout Camp!

June 10, 2014: Carter Park mural proposal


When the City of Hamilton put out a call for artists to propose a mural to improve Carter Park, a small park in the downtown Stinson neighbourhood, I knew I had to submit something. I love this little park. It feels a bit like a forgotten place, and is definitely at a disadvantage as an urban green space being located underneath a busy onramp for a road connecting the lower city to the mountain (the Clairmont access).

This project lead me to some history of the Stinson neighbourhood. The area was built up in the nineteenth century, and in 1896 the Hamilton Collegiate Institute (HCI) was built, a magnificent building that housed what had been a model school for secondary education in the province. Several famous Hamiltonians when to HCI, including former Canadian prime minister Lester B. Pearson, and the mathematician J. C. Fields. Unfortunately this building was destroyed by fire in 1946.

In a fairly typical turn of bad urbanism, the city used the land formerly occupied by HCI to build a mega road funnelling cars from the growing urban sprawl on the mountain to the steel mills, major employers for many inhabitants in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. While the steel industry has died, the civic infrastructure remains. Built to move thousands of steelworkers to and from work each day, now most of these roads are overbuilt and under capacity.

My proposal for this mural was a bit of a rush job, but I did have fun making this panorama of Hamilton, that included the bay, the steel mill, the escarpment, "Around the Bay" race, recreational features (such as cycling, baseball), and several prominent buildings that either were or are part of Stinson or prominent features of Hamilton's skyline.

The proposed scale of the mural was long and narrow, 21 meters long and 3 meters high. Its hard to represent that here but below is an attempt to capture a bit of what the draft mural was all about, above in full, and below in sections. At the top of this post is a except from the mural in colour.


There were many interesting submissions. I hugely congratulate Bryce Huffman, who's proposal was selected by the jury. Congrats Bryce!

Now from a distance, I think my proposal reflects how interested I have become in representing Hamilton in sequential art, or comic/graphic novel form. Maybe my proposal for the Carter Park mural will have a second life as part of my Hamilton graphic novel. Still in the drawer at present, but coming soon to a location near you, I hope.

May 11, 2014: Hamilton Arts Awards


This year I was nominated for a Hamilton Arts Award in the Community Arts category. Thanks friends Amanda Jernigan and John Haney, for nominating me. Ian Jarvis, who's been working in the Hamilton arts community for many years, won the Community Arts award for his Unlocking HIV project. Ian gave an amazingly forthright and brave acceptance speech, and I found it really thought provoking about recent events that have cast a shroud of criminality around people living with HIV. Check out his project, Unlocking HIV, here.

January 29, 2014: Walmart Live Better magazine

Some of my work appeared in the January 2014 Fresh Start issue of Walmart's "Live Better" in-store magazine. The project about home organization was to draw empty rooms in which photographs of Walmart products would be placed. I could imagine whatever spaces I wanted, as long as they would fit the items given. Below I've pictured the illustrations of the empty rooms beside how they appeared with the text and products in the magazine. Although a bathroom image was commissioned, it didn't run in the magazine in the end. Thanks to Art Director Daniel DeSouza!






November 20, 2013: Community Supported Art, work in progress

try this one_2.png

I'm getting twenty-five paintings/illustrations ready for Hamilton's Community Supported Art project. It's a great way to get your foot in the door if you're looking to start an art collection. And an original work by me will be a part of it! As background for the project, Cobalt Connects recently posted an interview with me, which you can read here

Below are some of the works that will be for sale through this project. Each painting of mine will focus on Hamilton, the themes, people, places and impressions of the place. All twenty-five pieces will be the same size (11"x8.5") and use the same materials (acrylic, ink, watercolour on paper) and colour palette.

You can purchase one through the CSA website. The illustrator box, including one of my original works (and the work of two other artists), is $350. Check out


(1) Strip club, King Street


(2) Steel City, Claremont Access Underpass


(3) Hamilton City Centre, York and James Street


(4) Fall tree, Market Street


(5) Second Floor Mural, Hamilton City Hall


(6) Stelco Retiree


(7) Hamilton Bulldogs, Copps Coliseum


(8) Stroll on James Street


(9) Haunted


(10) Sioux Lookout Park


(11) Gage Park Rose Garden


(12) Flamborough Livestock


(13) Barton Street Detention Centre


(14) Beautiful Downtown Hamilton (King William Street demolition)


(15) Copetown farm


(!6) Sprout Campers, Escarpment Trail


(17) Cannon Street Cycle Track


(18) Hamilton Beach


(19) Discarded needles, Beasley Park


(20) Hamilton Collegiate Institute Fire, 1946


(21) Snow Storm, Stinson


(22) Stelco, Fog


(23) Newborn, St. Joseph's Hospital


(24) Burlington Bay Panorama


(25) Food Bank, Cannon and Mary Street

September 10, 2013: Darwin's Cyclopean Architect


This week I worked on a project for Paul Thompson and Denis Walsh from the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto. They co-edited a book of essays in honour of historian and philosopher of science Michael Ruse. One of the articles in the book, "Darwin's Cyclopean Architect", by John Beatty, refers to three photographs of rock formations, and explains how Darwin used metaphors about architecture to explain his concept of natural selection. The publisher, Cambridge University Press, preferred line drawings to photos, so these were the line drawings I produced to illustrate Beatty's essay in the book.



May 16, 2013: Scenes from a marriage, The Boston Globe


The author of this op/ed ruminated on the nuances and well-worn patterns of her own marriage, after watching Ingmar Bergman’s film, “Scenes from a Marriage." This illustration appeared in The Boston Globe on May 17, 2013.

April 8, 2013: Human Trafficking, THIS magazine


Human trafficking can victimize ordinary woman who are forced into sex work in the most ordinary of places, including motels and hotels along highway 401 in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. This is one of the observations made about Ontario's sex trade in an article for the May/June 2013 issue of THIS magazine. This illustration accompanies it.

March 4, 2013: Illness maze, MORE magazine


These two illustrations appeared in MORE magazine in September 2012. The article by Li Robbins was about how we sometimes struggle to be there for friends coping with illness, especially cancer. Working on this piece I definitely thought a lot about the people in my own life who have struggled, and continue to live with the difficult knowledge that they have this disease. Thanks to Associate Art Director Shelley Frayer and Art Director Faith Cochran for their guidance on this piece.



Sylvia Nickerson
art & illustration

e: sylvianickerson [at]
h: (+1) 905-522-5604
c: (+1) 905-730-3288
t: @sylvianickerson
View my portfolio by clicking through the links above. You can read a short biography about me here.

The Washington Post
The Globe and Mail
The Boston Globe
The National Post
The Dominion
Dogs in Canada
Hamilton Magazine
DRIVEN magazine
Biz Magazine
The Utne Reader
Briarpatch magazine
THIS Magazine
Atlantic Books Today
The Literary Review of Canada
The Coast
H Magazine
The New Quarterly
Book and Periodical Council
The Local Cafe
The Aeolian Singers
Brott Music Festival
Sustainable Solutions Group
University of Toronto
Rogers Media
Catherine Manoukian Violin
Palgrave Macmillan
MORE Magazine
MacEwan University

Copyright 2012 Sylvia Nickerson
Weblog template designed by Fair Trade Media