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Alumni Profiles

Kagan Mcleod

Kagan Mcleod

Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design
Year of Graduation: 1999
Program: Illustration

The Best is Yet to Come

Kagan McLeod has been illustrating for magazines, newspapers and design firms since graduation. He began work as a staff artist for the National Post newspaper and has since had work published in magazines around the world.

Among the magazines which have featured his illustrations are Entertainment Weekly, New York, Toronto Life, Men's Health and Wired. His work has appeared in the American Illustration annual and has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, the Society for News Design and the American Society of Magazine Editors.

He is both pleased and surprised that his illustrations have garnered so many awards. “I think my work is accessible and easy for a large audience to appreciate, but that approach doesn't usually win awards. So I'm just happy if it happens!”

The National Post’s first art intern, Kagan landed in the paper’s graphics department and built up a portfolio of published work over a five-year period. Music-themed art features large in Kagan’s portfolio, including illustrations for the Post and other newspapers and magazines. “Most of the contacts I made early on were through the Post and I still have a close working relationship with them today,” he says.

Having the day job at the Post allowed Kagan to finance the publication of his comics series. From 2001 to 2004 he published seven issues on his own before starting work on his 400-plus page graphic novel, Infinite Kung Fu. The novel is scheduled for release by Top Shelf in 2011. The Ain't It Cool News (AICN) website included his comic book on its list of best independent titles of the past decade, a fact “which blows my mind because I feel I haven't done my best work yet,” says Kagan.

A prolific illustrator, Kagan has worked with a wide variety of subject matter. One of his most challenging assignments was producing court sketches of the Toronto 18 arrested for terrorism in 2006. “The drawings weren't too tough once I started, but tensions were high going in, with news scrums, snipers on roofs and angry family members and supporters elbowing me out of my spot. Not things an artist usually has to worry about,” he recalls.

Over the past decade, Kagan has seen a big change in the field of illustration. He graduated during a transitional period between digital and traditional methods of artwork production. “The jpeg as final art was new. I did everything on paper and xerox. But recently the trend has returned to a 'hand-done' look, whether it's achieved by hand or digitally. To me, that's a good thing because it's more fun.”