For the Love of a Good Beard

By Grace Evans

Rosemary Travale likes to draw things that make her laugh. The Hamilton, Ontario-based artist, participating in this year’s upcoming Toronto Comic Arts Festival, has a style that combines quirk, cuteness and colour to create characters that she describes as “weirdoes… with the best personalities.”

Her influences come from 1950s-era children’s books, as well as the work of comic artists Mawil, Aaron Renier and Hellen Jo. She also cites old-time Disney artist Mary Blair, who was responsible for the concept art behind Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, as influential, which isn’t surprising given her love of pirates.


Pirates and beards are recurring themes in Travale’s work. She’s drawn to adventure stories with sidekicks and villains. “They are always the characters that have the best personalities,” she says. “Pirates are really interesting to me because they used to be this terrible fearsome thing and now they’re reduced to mini putt mascots. I guess I’m guilty of romanticizing that idea of adventure and freedom on the open sea.” Her pieces feature subjects such as a lovelorn Wonder Woman gazing at a framed photograph of Batman and an adorably bearded man standing proudly in his tighty-whities. Of her facial hair obsession she says: “I’ve been trying to grow [a beard] for years now and it still hasn’t come in. Drawing them is the best I’m going to get.”

Since she graduated from Sheridan College in 2007 with a BA in illustration, Travale has been determined to make drawing her full time job. She’s taken a variety of routes with her illustration and design work, creating a pattern for a cookbook, mascot designs for a library, editorial images for magazines and working on pieces for gallery shows. “I think the most important thing is to be driven enough to keep at it when it’s something you love and have fun doing,” she says.

With an impressive sequence of art shows in the GTA, as well as her upcoming appearance at TCAF, be sure to look for Travale’s work. You can also catch more of her adorable characters at