What’s your artistic background? Who are you as an artist and as an individual?
I think I’ve always been an artistic, or at least creative person in some regard or another. I’ve been drawing since I can remember, although after high school it became much less frequent with the exception of a few gifts. I jumped into performance in theatre and film halfway through high school and continued into university where I obtained my Honours Degree in Theatre and Film. I’ve performed in several community theatre groups including Hammer Entertainment, Hamilton Theatre Inc., Fringe, and the Player’s Guild. I’ve also been on television in commercials and on a History TV show called Air Aces. It’s funny that so many people who have known me for years had no idea I had any visual arts talents until I started the whole chalkboard work and posting it on social media.
How did you get into chalk art? It’s a unique niche, isn’t it?
Yeah, chalk isn’t the most common medium. I got into using chalk pretty simply; I started working at Jack and Lois over a year ago. As part of my first opening shift, it was my responsibility to do something for the chalkboard sign out front. Since it was November 5th (Guy Fawkes Day), I decided to draw up a quick Guy Fawkes mask from V for Vendetta for fun. Everyone loved it and from that point on it became an ongoing thing that has continually snowballed. I’ve learned quite a few things through constantly using it and I’m always trying to push myself by using a new technique or method.
Where do you get your ideas? Your work often depicts humour, celebrities, tributes…
Most of the images I drew at the beginning were derived from the date including birthdays, anniversaries of events, etc. Then I started doing things to coincide with whatever was happening, movie and TV releases (Walking Dead, Vikings, Game of Thrones, Deadpool), the Blue Jays playoff run, holidays, Movember (in which I did a famous mustachioed man each week) or even the death of David Bowie. Most times I tied it into the restaurant somehow, but Eric, who owns Jack and Lois has been incredibly supportive and open to everything I’ve done so I’ve really been able to let loose. Which has brought me to the last several I’ve done, which have been quite political, mostly because things have been impossible to ignore or not speak out about. Of course the main goal is to do anything that makes someone stop, digest the image, and then check out the restaurant. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me watching people stop dead in their tracks to look at the work and then come in.
Any favourite pieces of art that you’ve done? Why?
My favourite pieces? That’s a tough one because without realizing it I’ve managed to do so many in such a short period of time. I guess having to update the board so frequently has really forced me to not only create so many, but I am constantly trying to out do myself. There are of course a few that have stood out for me. The Simpsons’ version of Mulder and Scully, Deadpool, a Bowie commission, Hunter S. Thompson, Negan and Lucille from Walking Dead. Things really started to roll with Ron Burgundy, I started to use colour differently and since then the portraits have really seemed to pop. The Meryl Streep/ Rosie Riveter piece definitely got the biggest response during the Women’s March – which gave me the confidence to try some more politically driven things like Trump and Putin kissing for Valentine’s Day just after the whole Russian scandal was breaking.
Do you have any artistic dreams? Images, surfaces, projects you’d love to tackle some day?
Dreams… well, of course the ultimate dream for any artist, in any field or medium, is to live off their work. Ideally, I would love to be able to support a healthy, happy lifestyle while creating visual and performing arts. I don’t want to only use chalk either, as I also paint and sketch. I’d like to try a few other mediums, combine them…who knows what’ll work – I just want to enjoy myself.
Any exciting projects coming up? Future plans or goals?First off, I’m not the only one who has fun with
First off, I’m not the only one who has fun with the chalkboards; both my good friend Jessica, who worked at Democracy and now My Dog Joe, and Pippa, who rocks the Democracy board now also do some amazing stuff. I think it might be fun to spend a day collaborating with them. For the immediate future I’m just hoping to get things off the ground. I’d like to get more permanent pieces together, get some high-quality images for prints for sale. There are a few pieces I’m hoping to get finished including a few commissions, which are always fun and obviously welcomed. There are some projects that I look forward to getting started, but nobody likes any spoilers so…