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Andrew Duff is a mixed media visual artist living and working in Toronto, Canada. A graduate of both OCAD and NSCAD, Andrew currently draws robots on just about everything. His robot explorations include drawings, collages, mixed media paintings and silkscreen prints. Each piece celebrates natural flaws and strives to bridge the gap between hi-tech and handmade.
His current body of work explores the juxtaposition of shiny, new high technology and urban decay. Through the materials and process he uses in his practice, he investigates themes of challenge and hope. Influenced by graffiti, comics and 1980s science fiction movies, he is driven to create characters and narratives that speak his story. What started as his reaction to life struggles, evolved into a unique journey.
You can find Andrew’s work here!
Web site: www.andrewduff.ca
Here are some of the artists that Andrew finds inspiration in!
“I am blown away by the vivid colour and design style of her mural work. No matter where you find them, her large scale public pieces charge the space with her unique electricity. Although each of her projects take her weeks to complete, I’m knocked flat by images that seem to bust through from another dimension, right before my eyes.”
“An amazing collective of artists, based in the magical portlands of Toronto. They not only create art together, but also run a collaborative space and residency program. I’m amazed and inspired by the breadth of work they do, from drawing to multiples to performance and back again. They seem to be endlessly creating new projects and trying to push just about every envelope. They are fantastic and I hope they never stop.”
He is one of my all time favorite Canadian artists, who has had a prolific career over the last 40 years. When I saw his latest show, ‘Dark Star’ at Nicholas Metivier Gallery, it shook me to the core. The intensity of his drawing. The creation and destruction and recreation happening, all at the same time. I left that show feeling raw and a little scared. Oh. Ya.
Contour & Co. is a Toronto based multidisciplinary firm founded through the collaboration of a graphic designer and an interior architect. For them the process of experimenting with form and materials is as fulfilling as the finished product. By combining traditional handcraft with the precision of computer software, they bring their products alive in a minimalist design.
Leslieville Flea: Sunday, April 26, 2015
Junction Flea Market at Echo Beach: May 24th 2015
You can find Contour & Co here:
Contour & Co. take inspiration from fellow Canadian companies Commute Home & Surf the Greats.
When in conversation with Commute Home they always know which questions to ask and when to ask them. We find them very inspiring because of their ability to critique as well as guide. They use familiar objects in unfamiliar ways. Their process and the way they experiment with materials is what makes them and their services truly unique.
You have to admire anyone who will go surfing during the dead of winter; not only are they adventurous but incredibly talented. Their ability to connect people through recreation and design has been very inspiring. While doing so they’ve also developed their own line of clothing catered to their following as well as brought attention to surfing in Canada.
Growing up in the Toronto’s electronic music & rave scene, Jeremy Hernandez allowed this prominent subculture to influence his work. Having been involved in the community since mid-2001 Jeremy enjoys collecting rare rave, club and party flyers.
“I find these types of flyers have an amazing graphic and digital art quality to them, unlike commercial magazines and prints, which I find the graphic art in those mediums are way too conservative. However, in rave flyers I find that to sell you the party, they have to have eye catching flyers to do so.”
Jeremy’s inspiration stemmed from the old-school Frutopia adverts with the kaleidoscopes in the commercials. He remembers generating a fascination with them as a little kid and hearing the drum and bass in the background. This lead to Jeremy attending numerous psytrance festivals like Eclipse in Montreal, and studying the psychedelic art of Alex Grey, which plays a huge influence on his work.
Here are Jeremy’s three artists that he takes inspiration from.
I feel like tattoo, digital, and graffiti artists are completely over looked when it comes to top favourite lists. Everyone goes for the more mainstream and commercial names like Dhali, Van Gogh, Group of Seven. Which are fantastic choices as well, those people were movers and shakers of their time. However, I would say that my picks are probably more “urban” and “street” and are definitely are Canadian. I’m a huge fan of supporting local artists and talent.
This guy is amazing! I discovered him after doing extensive research on where to get cool ink in the city. What really surprises me about him is the fact that he’s not on anyone’s radar. BlogTO I hope you’re taking note! How I judge a tattoo artist is on how they draw the human face and how their composition of their piece tells a story about their creativity. It takes a lot of skill to draw human faces, especially when tattoo artists are doing portraits. They have to be bang on or the smallest off detail can ruin the whole piece and make the face look funny. Roumen’s pieces are brilliant! As far as I’ve seen the majority of his works are in black and white. I remember after seeing hundreds of portfolios of tattoo artists in Toronto, I realized a lot of people are generic and have copy and pasted their styles from somewhere else or haven’t really developed a style and are just doing what they’ve seen in main stream tattoo culture. After a few seconds of being exposed to Roumen’s portfolio, I remember saying out loud “This is it!”. He had that “wow” factor I was looking for! Just the detail that goes into his work and his style makes it pop out. What I love about black and white is that the composition has to be amazing if it’s in black and white. I feel like colour masks any technical imperfections and draws your attention else where and gives the audience the illusion that it’s an amazing piece.
Okay, I’ll admit I’m kinda, sorta cyber/street stalking two artists right now and birdO is definitely one of them! I follow his work religiously on instagram and on the streets of Toronto! His amazing pieces are definitely hidden gems! I love running into his murals and posting them on instagram. I get really good feedback from my followers. I love love LOVE his work! This one time I was having a bad day and was walking in the back streets near Bathurst & Bloor, I remember I was turning a corner and discovering one of his murals and allowed it to lift my spirits. As an artist, I think their job has succeeded if they can invoke that kind of emotion from their audience. I feel like he’s definitely breaking the mould and redefining street art in the city! His work makes you rethink structures and colours. The way we see things and break them down into parts are different in birdO’s interpretation. I’ve honestly never seen a style like his in the graffiti world. So simple, yet very well thought out. He uses a lot of colourful abstract and organic shapes, and draws a lot of his inspiration from animals and things found in nature. When we look at the sky and grass we think blue and green – yet, in birdO’s world anything goes!
The second graffiti artists I’m following religiously are Shalak Attack & Brunosmoky. An amazing couple, just like birdO, they also travel around the world decorating one wall at a time! What draws me to Shalak Attack and Brunosmoky is the realism that they bring into their pieces. When you find one of their hidden gems around the city, they’re usually massive and filled with a lot of colour. It usually takes me a minute or so to take in their work. So much detail and vibrancy to absorb that sometimes I find myself revisiting their pieces to discover something new. What I like about their graffiti is that it usually tells a story. They come up with these amazing characters and avatars that aren’t bounded and restricted by traditional colour concepts. In addition, I like that sometimes you can see the whole colour spectrum in their work. Their work was recently featured in the Toronto Star and Metro newspaper. Shalak Attack & Brunosmoky are gaining in popularity and are definitely pioneers in their scene!
Bridging the gap between high end and hand made, Natalie Crittenden produces high quality, functional leather goods through her brand Haversack Leather. Focusing on small productions, and custom orders, most bags are designed using skins and findings of limited quantities to be sure each piece is unique. Items are never mass produced, and often less than a dozen of each design can be made.
With seven years of theatre costume production experience, Natalie is a confident pattern maker and stitcher, willing to work from sketches to produce custom garments and costumes.
Here are Natalie’s three Toronto designers who inspire her!
I really respect that Philip is bringing classic tailoring to a younger crowd. It’s really easy to get caught up with trends and disposable fashion, but I really believe that well tailored clothes can be timeless. His clothes have a vintage feel, with a more modern and flattering cut. Investing in a garment that was made to your measurements is the most stylish choice you can make.
I think Vivienne Westwood said it best, “Buy less, choose well.”
I first discovered Hoi bo at the One-of-A-Kind Show in Toronto. I love the clean lines, and sturdy details of these bags that are hand made in Toronto. The waxed cotton will soften and take on character, while the leather gains a beautiful patina with age. This is the kind of bag you own for life. In recent years I’ve noticed waxed canvas has become very popular, but I don’t think anyone else is doing it this well.
Sarah is a brilliant jeweller and metalsmith. While being the owner of The Devil’s Workshop, she creates her own line of jewellery and fills custom orders. You can take her your heirloom jewellery and she will turn it into something wearable and sentimental.
I love that Sarah also runs courses for people who are interested in making their own jewellery. She gives people the opportunity to learn, experiment and create from their own vision.
She will also be at the March 22nd Leslieville Flea.
I’m from Calgary, living in Toronto by way of Halifax where I just completed my MFA at NSCAD University a few months ago. I work with an array of diverse media to investigate the relationship between art and everyday life, and explore the performative possibilities of everyday circumstances. I really like collecting the ‘poor things’ of culture that end up in thrift shops such as animal figurines and landscape paintings, and finding new ways to represent and celebrate them. I make and accumulate drawings, sculpture, textiles, photographs, and performance, and often combine and recombine these elements in various formations for different purposes. Often what ties the works together are strategies of DIY optimism and ‘Fake it til you Make it’, and the continual focus on themes surrounding gender, art history, Canadiana, and non-human nature. My favourite Torontonian is Margaret Atwood and my favourite emotion is laughter through tears.
I was wondering whether surviving in the woods would be a useful metaphor for surviving as an artist in Canada today. I have concerns about the increasingly uncertain and marginalized position of the Canadian artist under a Conservative Government, and have long been aware of Margaret Atwood’s book Survival: a Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972), where she claims that “survival, plain and simple” has been a central and enduring metaphor of Canadian cultural identity, and that “Canadian authors spend a disproportionate amount of time making sure that their heroes die or fail”. Failure is especially close to the heart of an artist, I think, as we spend so much time doing a seemingly useless activity that yields next to no obvious (read: financial) success for the most part, yet we obstinately keep on rubbing sticks together in the hopes that some kind of fire will start and keep at least our own hands warm. Is this too depressing? Sorry, I really do love being an artist!
I have worked both ways before and as always, sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t, and I never really can predict why! I think my job as an artist is to do something that I don’t really know how to do, kind of like walking in the dark, and hope for a happy accident. That said, I work hard for those happy accidents by surrounding myself with materials, images, books, objects, ideas, etc that interest me and give me energy. I learn to listen to those things that I am drawn to, and I collect them and I stick them in my workspace, and I sit with them and I work with them and most of the results end up as by-product, and a little bit of it ends up as finished work.
I’m an artist working in Printmedia in Toronto. I just graduated from NSCAD (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design) with a degree in Interdisciplinary Fine Arts, which for me means mostly a combination of printmaking and photography, with some video and installation work mixed in.
I’m particularly interested in the relationship between identity and place. The urban environment is always in a stated of flux, constantly being constructed and deconstructed; built up, and torn down. Different elements of it come through at different times – whether it’s the time of day you experience it, or how you move through the space. I like to explore places that are overlooked. I try to capture the experience of place from a very subjective standpoint. The buildings that inspire me are ones I walk past everyday. They’re familiar, but abstracted, unplaceable, and I like that sense of disorientation
My dad, who’s also an artist, used to say that if you could talk anyone out of a career in the arts you were doing them a favor. I think maybe the same is true of printmaking. It’s an amazing medium, but the people who stick with it are the ones who have fallen in love with it and have some rather perverse need to do things in this long, painstaking way.
As a somewhat impatient person it seems like an odd choice. But the process itself enables, and forces, a certain amount of consideration, and stepping back. I always begin with a plan, but although certain parts of the plan are fixed, there’s a lot of flexibility, and the pieces always develop into something I could never have predicted as I work on them. Because prints evolve slowly, especially the more layers are involved, there are a lot of opportunities for revision, or for reflecting on the work in progress and changing things as you go along. The ability to make the same image multiple times with different colour combinations is also something that really draws me to the medium.
I think the inspiration for these more recent pieces was a push to integrate my photographic and printmaking practices. Prior to this series I’d gone back to working from sketches in my print work, and had completely segregated my printmaking from my photography. One of the things that did was to really allow me to play with techniques in printmaking, and kind of find a style, and process that worked for me in print, while concurrently finding a new approach to subject matter and composition through my photography.
In this new work I was really interested in bridging the gap between these two disparate practices. I realized that much of the inspiration for my work came from my photography – which was where my interested in structure, form, materiality, and light was really coming from – but the printmaking element really allowed me to play with the image – to manipulate and reinterpret it.
My work focuses on captuing my own internal, subjective experience of my environment. I find that working with photography grounds the work in objective experience, while the printmaking element further abstracts it, dislocates it, and situates it in a more subconscious or subjective realm.
To see more of Thea’s work, head on over to http://thea-reid-prints.tumblr.com/
My name is Rachelle Leblanc and I am an artist and woodworker who has recently relocated to Toronto from Vancouver to pursue a degree in Industrial Design from OCAD. With an educational background in cabinet making from BCIT, I have spent several years apprenticing under established craftspeople within different disciplines. I now plan to apply my previous experiences to a broader perspective of art and design. My work has been a continuing exploration and reference of traditional artistic format and presentation through subverting context and material.
It is hard for me to pinpoint exactly what drew me to create Fur Portrait. I am still at a point as an artist where my process is evolving both aesthetically and conceptually, and more so hope that each work will be the catalyst to further exploration of ideas and creativity. This particular piece was really about how the combination of these materials would bend or manipulate the context in which they were presented. I was driven by my own curiosity to juxtapose these particular materials against the traditional portrait format.
I always have a very concrete visualization of the project before I begin and then it becomes a matter of figuring out how to execute the work as closely as possible to my original concept. This pursuit can be challenging because ultimately there are certain ideas that can not be reconciled with my original vision, which ends up forcing me to adapt and in some cases concede to my materials and environment.
Right now, I’m pursuing a Masters of Fine Art in Printmaking at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University in Halifax. I grew up in Montreal, QC, but I was actually born in Bucharest, Romania.
As far as my work is concerned, I am fascinated with crashes. They are simultaneously attractive and repulsive. This duality, or contradiction, is what really interests me, which is why I make aesthetically pleasing prints with a repulsive subject matter. I consider that our society has become desensitized to these images through constant exposure to them in the media, and yet they remain a spectacle. In my work, I combine a critique of our society’s attitude towards calamities with a sense of wonder at the beauty of destruction. Most of my prints are based on real events. I choose what I depict based on the back story as well as on its aesthetic appeal to me.
When I made the Trabant, I had been working with crash imagery for two years already. I thought that I needed to create my own crashes, so I decided to make a paper car which I would then destroy. I also wanted to push the boundaries of printmaking and three dimensions seemed like the next logical step.
I chose a specific car: the Trabant. I grew up in Eastern Europe and although I didn’t really experience Communism, my parents did. The Trabant was the butt end of many jokes which I recall from my childhood. Essentially, this car was East Germany’s response to the VW. The Trabant was mostly made out of recycled material (Duroplast) because metal was not available in the USSR at the time. The irony is that I made a paper maquette of a paper car, so the joke is that my version is more durable. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, many Germans from the East crossed the border into the West in their Trabants… and then abandoned the cars in the field. The Trabant symbolizes both Communism and it’s fall, as well as freedom, which is why I considered it the perfect car to crash.
I started my career as a choreographer and performer, made dancefilms for fifteen years, and during the last five years I have moved towards visual art, working in sculpture, video installation and now performance.
I made SPIEGELEI and s(he) in 2011 – they were made in tandem. I was actively working on SPIEGELEI, and s(he) came about from a series of objects I was toying with in the studio.
I am not really a magpie but I occasionally come across an object I am strongly attracted to. These works began when I found a bin of used ball bearings. Shortly after, a bowl of skin coloured balloons drew my attention at a dollar store. I didn’t intent to put these two objects together but when I started playing with them it seemed like something new was trying to emerge. Forms, cells, body parts, orifices. This was the beginning of the work.
The word Spiegelei is the German term for a fried egg served sunny side up, but literally it translates into English as mirror egg (Spiegel=mirror, Ei=egg). For me, Spiegelei alludes to the body’s ability to interpret and misinterpret the world around it. It suggests processes of (re)production, mimesis and examination that are central to my work, and it gestures towards a kind of absurdity and duality often found in Surrealist practices. I also chose the title Spiegelei because if you don’t understand the word you have to rely on an affective response to the physical aspects of the work – in other words, you have to trust your body’s reaction.
Butted up, one against the other, the tables in SPIEGELEI form an assemblage that stretches into the gallery. The little objects placed across these tables resemble organ-like structures and feel as if they are of the body, or of a new type of body forming. They feel sexual or (re)productive but are not gendered. While they are somehow related to a variety of bodily forms, such as eye, egg, seed, anus, testicle, breast, bellybutton, they are also unfamiliar. Not belonging to existing categories, they are somehow base, and their horizontal placement implies movement and pulse. Or as Bataille would say, they are “formless”. (I take this definition of “formless” from Formless: A User’s Guide by Yve-Alain Bois and Rosalind E. Krauss)