Spring in artist’s step after winning salmon competition

It may be the size of a postage stamp, but the painting of a spring salmon could bring huge exposure for Comox artist Esther Sample.

ARTIST ESTHER SAMPLE poses with her painting of a spring salmon that was chosen in a national competition to be used on federal fishing licence decals for conservation of wild Pacific salmon.

It may be the size of a postage stamp, but the painting of a spring salmon could bring huge exposure for Comox artist Esther Sample.Sample was recently chosen as the artist to have her image Hunger Strikes appear on the federal fishing licence decal for conservation of wild Pacific salmon.The recreational fisheries conservation stamp, known as the ‘salmon stamp,’ is a $6 decal that must be purchased annually by anglers if they wish to keep Pacific salmon caught in saltwater off the west coast.The annual art contest is run by the Pacific Salmon Foundation, and it is the first time in its 23-year history a woman has won the contest.”I was kind of stunned; I didn’t expect to win,” said Sample, who once worked as a commercial fisher. “Being a woman, I kind of felt (the contest) would be a competition of the old boys’ club. The painting were incredible, I didn’t know if I could stand up to them.”Contest rules require the main subject of submissions be any of the seven species of Pacific salmon found in B.C. waters — chinook, coho, sockeye, chum, pink, steelhead and cutthroat.Sample noted she first heard of the competition from a fellow artist and past winner who encouraged her to enter. She added it was incredibly challenging working with a different perspective — underwater species — but relied upon her west coast style in her art to create what she calls her image of a spring salmon — “the big trophy in sports fishing.””In my opinion, that’s the ultimate prize,” she explained.Sample, along with 15 other finalists, had their art displayed at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club in November, where it was revealed her piece made it through the final round of voting by a panel of judges. In addition to the stamp, which will be in production by March, Sample said the image will be made into 200 limited edition prints to be auctioned at various locations across the province including fundraising dinners and galas.”The exposure is going to be ongoing. It’s certainly going to get my name out there,” she added. For more information, visit www.psf.ca.photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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