Kevin Cannon is Poster Child for State Fair

Cartographer Kevin Cannon draws a lot into his cartoon maps.

But he may have outdone himself with his Minnesota Star Fair poster.

From the MinnPost:

In late spring 2019, Minneapolis-based cartoonist and illustrator Kevin Cannon learned that he had been chosen as the Minnesota State Fair’s commemorative artist for 2020.

Unfortunately, due to The Covid, the 2020 State Fair was cancelled. So…

The 2020 commemorative artist became the 2021 commemorative artist. The art didn’t change much. Cannon’s intent from the start was to create something aspirational, a representation that transcended any specific year. “Something that would last for all the days that weren’t the 12 days of the State Fair,” he said.


The original … is a 22½ x 30? painting done in ink and watercolor. Cannon usually works digitally, using scans and Photoshop, but “the State Fair is such a special occasion I didn’t even question it when they asked for an original watercolor painting.”

A vivid and humorous cartoon map of the fair from the North End Event Center to the International Bazaar, the Grandstand to the Cattle Barn, the Haunted House, the Mighty Midway, the Dairy Building, the Giant Slide and the Space Tower, Cannon’s art is jam-packed with details, including crowds of people. We counted 20 human figures just along the bottom edge. Even Cannon doesn’t know how many he drew, but he thinks it might be fun for someone else to count them.

The MinnPost features a supersized version with a better look at the details.

The MinnPost article also interviews Kevin.

MP: Do you hide things in your art, like Martin Hanford [“Where’s Waldo?’] and Richard Scarry [“What Do People Do All Day?”]?

KC: First, I would like to tell your readers that there is no Waldo.

But I did include family members. If anybody is looking through the map and sees, like, a couple with, you know, holding a baby or something, there’s a good chance that I’m related to them.

If you look to the middle part of the water tower, I’m straight to the left, probably an inch. That’s me with the beard, and my wife with red hair, holding our son on my shoulders.

MP: The press release mentioned “a secret message winding throughout the painting.”

KC: There is, and that’s all the information I want to give. I wanted at least one thing that people could hunt for. Basically, it’s a message that’s cut up into maybe 12 or 13 different parts. Once they find one piece, I think it’ll be pretty obvious how to piece them together.

Kevin goes on to describe the procedure of creating the poster.
While the Minnesota State Fair site has a photo essay of Kevin’s creative process.