Creative Contributor: Rosalyn Boucha
A little about Rosalyn:
By day, Rosalyn Boucha (aka Rosie) is a communications manager for an Indigenous-led and community-based non-profit organization in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. When she isn’t working within the community, Rosie can be found illustrating, creating fibre art, gardening, or hanging out with a good book and her two black cats.
Rosie is a member of Animakee Wa Zhing First Nation in Northwestern Ontario, but grew up along the south shores of Lake of the Woods on the US-Canadian border. Her work is strongly influenced by her rural upbringing, Anishinaabe culture, and passion for sustainability.
What got you interested in art? How did you get started?
I’ve been making art and crafting since I can remember. Growing up, I was surrounded by creativity in many forms and always inspired by my parents. My mom is an amazing artist and having her paintings hung in every room of our house was always really inspiring. She made and sold jewelry for many years and I remember her and my dad collecting porcupine quills for her art. My dad is also an amazing artist and would weave willow baskets and would often tan and stretch deer hides to make drums. They both really inspired me to be a maker and were always really supportive when I wanted to paint a crazy design on a wall or hand texture my entire bedroom based on a photo I saw in an interior design magazine the week before.
What is your favorite medium to create in?
I do a lot of digital art for work which I really enjoy, but I love finding opportunities to incorporate other mediums, like collaging or papercutting. The papercut illustrations are really time-consuming, but I just love the process of playing with different types of paper and tools. I’m always looking for ways I can incorporate other materials, like birch bark and wool, into the scenes.
What is one of your favorite projects that you've done?
One of my favourite projects was working on the illustrations for Hidden Friends: Baapi and the Memegwesiwak that was written by my colleague and friend Kim Kakegamik. The process of learning more about my culture and hearing stories of the Memegwesiwak and then working closely with Kim to translate that into a modern storybook was really amazing.
What do you love most about what you do?
There is something really magical about creating and being able to share your imagination with people in a very tangible way. I love plucking something from my brain then bringing it to life for people to see, or having someone describe something to me then creating my imagination’s version of that. Being able to share that experience with people is really special.
What's something hard about what you do?
While sharing art with people is really special to me and my favorite thing about creating, it is also the most challenging. It is a really vulnerable experience and can take a lot of practice to get comfortable with. While it gets easier over time, it still weighs on me when working with new collaborators or clients or sharing new ideas. But getting past those moments of fear or uncertainty is what has led me to the most growth personally and professionally.
What is your dream project or collaboration?
Wow, this is a tough one! I love working on Indigenous language projects and would like to see resources for all ages and reading levels. A family friend and I have been talking about developing comic books in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe Language) for middle years and high schoolers as that is a gap we are seeing in resources right now. Really anything that can help our youth connect with language and culture or promote Indigenous voices in the world is something that gets me really excited.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to do art of some kind. Exactly what kind of art changed for me throughout the years and jumped between cartoon animation, illustration, interior design, writing, and many other things. The work and hobbies that I have today are absolutely a reflection of all these dreams coming together.
Talk us through your process for creating the pages you did for the Susan La Flesche Picotte issue.
Colouring Page: The colouring page was created digitally on an iPad. It started with a rough sketch in ProCreate based on the notes from the Bravery team and went through a few iterations of sketches to determine layout, and then I pulled it into Adobe Illustrator for final linework.
Language Page: The papercut illustrations started as rough sketches with paper and pencil to play around with ideas for each of the words. Once I had an idea of what I wanted to illustrate for each, I moved to Adobe Illustrator, where I colour blocked out each illustration using basic shapes and layers that I knew would be appropriate for cutting and layering by hand.
Once I was happy with the design of each illustration, I split the illustrations into sections to prepare for printing. I printed each element and got to work cutting out the pieces by hand using a small utility knife. As I cut out each element, I determined which pieces I wanted set higher to create more shadows and applied a padding to the backs to lift it higher off the page.
Each illustration was then assembled by hand (sometimes using plastic tweezers) on a white background and photographed. The final step was importing to Photoshop for final tweaks and colour correction.