Collectors booklets of the three stamps that graphic designer Sabrina McAllister created for Canada Post. They were released last week as part of its collection recognizing five of Canada’s country music superstars.

Graphic designer puts her stamp on country music stars

A local graphic artist trained in Calgary has put her own stamp on the country star who impressed her so much as a youth.

A local graphic artist trained in Calgary has put her own stamp on the country star who impressed her so much as a youth.

A few years ago, when Sabrina McAllister was still a pre-teen and living on the family farm east of Penhold, her parents, David and Susan Kaun, took her to Calgary for a Shania Twain concert.

They had seats in the floor area and McAllister had brought along a rose that she hoped to lay on the stage. Security staff were not allowing anyone to approach the stage, but the Kauns were able to talk one of them into taking the rose up for her.

McAllister says seeing how she had done her best to look like Shania may have helped convince the security people of her sincerity.

The highlight for her that night came during the show, when Shania stopped the concert, picked up the rose, and had her stage crew put a spot light on the Kaun family as she read for her audience the note that accompanied the flower.

Years later, McAllister has been given another shot at getting close, if not personal, to her childhood idol.

Last fall, a former colleague contacted McAllister about an opportunity at Canada Post. The corporation had opened a competition, seeking designs for a series of collectors’ stamps and booklets featuring five of Canada’s favourite country music stars — including Shania Twain.

McAllister was contacted earlier this year by a Canada Post representative, announcing that the winning designs had been chosen for release in July.

“They saved the best for last,” says McAllister.

First, the caller said her design would be used for the Renée Martel stamp.

There was more. Her design had also been selected for the Hank Snow stamp.

Then came the big news. The caller advised her that she was the successful designer of the stamp commemorating her favourite star, Shania Twain.

The other two stamps, featuring k.d. lang and Tommy Hunter, were awarded to designer Roy White.

In the most recent edition of its periodical, Details, Canada Post includes a few phrases from McAllister’s reaction upon learning that her designs had been chosen.

“I was giddy with excitement,” she says. “Shania was a childhood idol for me.”

At home with her husband Wade and their new baby, Mia, McAllister said Canada Post provided a cash prize for each of the designs it selected, but the reward is far greater in terms of the honour it brings and the exposure it provides for her new enterprise, Quarter Section Creative Inc.

McAllister studied at the Alberta College of Art and Design and start her career with an advertising and marketing firm based in Calgary.

Then, in the fall of 2010 with heavy snows in the forecast, her dad had started calling neighbours for extra help to get the crops in. That was when she met, for the first time, a dashing helicopter pilot who had grown up almost in sight of her family’s home.

Wade McAllister was among the crew who arrived from the McAllister farm, six kilometres due south of Kaun’s Seed Farm. In the months to come, he did not have to work too hard to convince his new love to move back to the country, where they both believe her creative forces have blossomed.

They were married two years ago and now live on the farmsite where Wade’s great-great parents started established their new farm in 1890. McAllister says she is now free to stay home with her baby, help with the farm when needed, and look after a graphic design business that has a strong rural focus. Among her contracts is development of a new branding scheme for Agri-Trade, including the release this year of a new logo she designed for the Red Deer-based farm equipment and technology show.

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