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Steamboat Magazine

Susan Gill Jackson Shares Her Inspiration for This Year’s Winter Carnival Poster

02/01/2024 03:37PM ● By Elainna Hemming
Steamboat Springs, CO - This year’s Winter Carnival poster artist, Susan Gill Jackson, has taken a vibrant approach to the project. Contrasted against deep night sky blues lie an array of exploding fireworks in bright yellows, oranges and greens, lined with hot pink highlights. Flipping snowboarders, jumping skiers and galloping horses burst out of the fireworks.

As an artistic summary of the lasting legacy the festivities have on the Steamboat Springs community, Susan wanted her interpretation of the poster to stand out from previous ones. Although she viewed past posters for inspiration, most were set during the daytime; Susan wanted hers to emphasize the almost fantastical nature of the nighttime events. Thus, her vision of spinning neon athletes and swirling clouds was created.

Susan has lived in Steamboat since 1995 and her memories of Winter Carnivals are characterized by fun and excitement. She particularly remembers the streaming Yampa River reflecting the light of the fireworks, creating a double color show for all its viewers. From fiery hoops to world record explosions, Steamboat’s love for pyrotechnics was her main focus, but she also drew inspiration from her own personal life. In their youth, her children participated in Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Digging through old photos of her kids competing gave Susan a reference for the right poses and styles of jumps of her painted athletes, not to mention a little nostalgia as well.

It’s this nostalgia that Susan believes is the true spirit of Winter Carnival. The purpose of Winter Carnival is to not only honor the talented athletes of Steamboat but also retain its history. “Everyone is aware of how renowned SSWSC is, but people should also remember what the settlers really did to establish this town,” Susan says. The original founders of Steamboat needed some sort of entertainment in order to push through the long winter season, and Susan built on this need for entertainment when she created her whimsical piece.

Although she typically works in oil paints, Susan shifted mediums due to the limited time frame she had to complete the work. The original acrylic artwork will be on display in Pine Moon Fine Art gallery for this upcoming First Friday artwalk, and it will also be up for auction. Additionally, Susan will be at Pine Moon from 4-6 p.m. for poster signings.

“When asked if I would be interested in making the poster, I said it would be an honor,” Susan says. “I’m happy to be able to help keep the story of Steamboat alive.”

Steamboat's Winter Carnival is Feb. 7-11, 2024. For more information, visit