Colorado love -- and Shaw Nielsen's amazing cover art

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

For "Rocky Mountain High," Westword writers scattered around the state on Colorado Day, August 1, and returned with reports on why, even in this very tough summer, there are plenty of reasons to love Colorado. And Shaw Nielsen gave us one more: his wonderful cover art.

Here's how Nielsen explains the assignment on his website:

Being a Colorado kid, I've always loved reading the Westword and admired their bold covers. So, to get the chance to do a cover for the Westword, for of all subjects, why Colorado is awesome, was pretty exciting for me personally. When I first graduated from art school dead set on being an illustrator, I was fixated on getting to do work for the Westword. I hassled Jay Vollmar, their art director, relentlessly -- with often ill-advised promos -- so it was also nice to see that Jay didn't hold any grudges for those early, crummy promos, and hired me. Thanks, Jay.

On his site, Nielsen also offers a fascinating account of the process of creating a cover, complete with sketches, the repro of a first attempt that could have collided with a trademark issue, and "one final tweak (that I can't say I agreed with).... I switched up the mouth and eyes of the sun and bam! We're done."

Here's the end result.

Response to the cover has been strong. The Denver Egotist shared Nielsen's story, and readers have been requesting a poster. Would you buy one? Post your thoughts in the comments section below. And remember, there's a lot to love about Colorado -- including our fabulous artists.

As part of the "Rocky Mountain High" project, we also updated our 2011 list of why this is the greatest state. Read the "Fifty latest reasons why Colorado is the best state in the country" here.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.