Steamboat artist creates whimsical poster for Winter Carnival 2018 |

Steamboat artist creates whimsical poster for Winter Carnival 2018

Frances Hohl For Steamboat Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When Steamboat Springs artist Michelle Ideus got the call last year asking if she wanted to create the commemorative poster for Steamboat's 105th Winter Carnival in 2018, she was honored, nervous and in awe of her responsibility to the town's heritage.

She shouldn't have been.

"The first time I walked into her studio, and she showed me the work in progress, I audibly gasped," said Traci Smith, director of marketing for Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty.

Sotheby's commissions an artist each year to create an original piece of art that is then auctioned off, as well as selling limited edition prints and posters. The money helps fund the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

The 2018 Winter Carnival commemorative poster was created by local artist Michelle Ideus in her signature whimsical collage-style. Poster prints are $10 each and are available throughout Winter Carnival at Off the Beaten Path, Lyon Drug and Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty offices, and online through the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, with 100 percent of the proceeds going directly to SSWSC.

For the past three years, Smith trolled the First Friday Artwalk and galleries to find an artist whose style was just a little different from the previous year. Ideus' whimsical collage style caught Smith’s eye, and the style translated beautifully for this year's poster.

"There is so much detail to it, and so many subtle nuances,” Smith said. “Every time I look at it, I discover something new and different that I haven't seen before. It is a really special piece.”

Recommended Stories For You

Ideus says she first turned to photographer friend George Fargo, knowing he had shot incredible photos of the Winter Carnival over the years.

Thinking she'd only work off one photo, Ideus found two images she knew would be the perfect way to catch the spirit of Winter Carnival.

"Kids are always wearing crazy outfits, and I saw these two little girls. They were looking away (from the camera),” Ideus said.

Ideus combined the photo with another iconic picture of local rancher Doug Wheeler pulling a ski jumper on his horse. The Wheeler family has been involved in Winter Carnival for more than 90 years.

From there, Ideus sketched out the two photos as if they were one picture — the brightly clothed girls, one in a tutu, watching the horse and jumper as they race along Lincoln Avenue.

She then started painting the background before turning it into a collage of creativity.

"I use magazine clippings, papers, any source … like golf magazines, crazy things. I build into the imagery with my collage, then I paint," explained Ideus.

And if that sounds harder than normal painting, it is, says Ideas, but worth the effort.

"Sometimes, backgrounds can be boring, so I put something over it — create interest inside the flatness," she explained.

Ideus' stunning original sold at the SSWSC gala in December for $4,700. Other limited giclee` prints are sold out, but posters of her creation can be bought all over town.

"We've been involved in Winter Carnival since my son was 5. It's always a big adventure for our family," said Ideus.

And the fact that the poster project raises money for the Winter Sports Club, where her 11-year-old son also skis, is the best part.

"If it helps raise a good chunk of change for the Winter Sports Club, I feel blessed to put my paint brush to it," she said.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for Ideus at various public events where she'll be happy to sign your poster. Ideus displays her collage artwork and photography at the Center for Visual Arts Gallery, the Colorado Group Realty office, Waterside Day Spa and Sorella Salon.