Category Archives: friends

Art Can Be Therapy

Don Bray - I Am Myself

Cover art for Don’s latest album

Saturday night we celebrated Don Bray‘s 60th birthday. He shreds the acoustic guitar like few I know. He has a CD release coming up on Nov 4th; if you’re in Toronto, treat yourself.

It was good to see many people I hadn’t seen in a while – musicians, artists & friends alike. I was glad to meet up again with a rep for a youth abuse-recovery group (I hope that’s a respectful, acceptable term), where some of my work seems to resonate, to perhaps help their clients deal with the past by telling their stories.

B/c art can be therapy.



Filed under friends, music

The Springwater ‘Autumn Equinox’ Studio Tour

I admit I was not relishing the idea of My SGAA Tour Displayearly mornings this past weekend, but the payoff was huge (coffee, bagels & doughnuts helped).

I got to hang out with Mike Guilbault & Lisa Harpell for two days & talk about art, marketing, philosophy, direction & innumerable other topics. I left with increased knowledge, a couple of potential leads, & some story ideas. I could not have asked for a more positive experience.

I also made my first sale!

But my proudest moment was showing Lisa’s eight (I think) year old son how to draw ‘easy’ hands. He has school chums who make comics, & he expressed mild interest. When I asked if he’d like to take my sketchbook page with him, he was super casual about it, like ‘Sure’ with a shrug, but when it was in his hands I heard him say under his breath


I cannot overstate the reward of teaching something of value. I’d like to do more.


Filed under friends, life, showcase

The Stolen Artwork of Amanda Marie Luis

Purchased by Eglantina Canha, for Rose Canha

Purchased by Eglantina
Canha, to be mailed directly
to her adult daughter,
Rose Canha

Purchased by Eglantina Canha, for Rose Canha

Also purchased by Eglantina
Canha, to be mailed directly
to her adult daughter,
Rose Canha

These pieces of wearable art went missing after being mailed at The UPS Store at 1375 Southdown Road, Mississauga, Ontario.

They never made it to their intended destination in Enfield, Connecticut.

If you see any of these in your travels, please contact me or, preferably, Amanda.

Artist's gift to Rose Canha

Artist’s gift, sent to
(cousin) Rose Canha

Artist's gift for Rose Canha

Artist’s gift, sent to
(cousin) Rose Canha

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A Place for the Gaudy in Design

My Kind of Compliment Sandwich

My Kind of Compliment Sandwich

Self-aware preamble: As a backhanded compliment to a respected peer & ‘good acquaintance’ (less than ‘movies & beers’–my definition of ‘friend’–but better than just ‘I know the guy’), I might not be using the compliment sandwich. End preamble.

The tour is coming up, & we’re preparing the signage. Honestly, it’s garish, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. When he first asked my opinion, Mike reminded me of me & my insecurities. It was surreal & unexpected, as his eye is well-refined & I dig his taste. I eventually said

Is it enough to say it’s not ugly?

And we laughed.

Then a client of his arrived; I went for a coffee & reflected on it. I had no opinion that didn’t include the recommendation: start over (it went unvocalized). The design is extremely divergent from what I think looks good, from colour to font (also, I don’t envy the challenge of the atypical banner shape). But as I stood & looked out his studio’s front window onto the main street & sipped on a cream-deficient coffee, I realized Mike’s sign was perfect.

SGAA Brochure

SGAA Brochure (PDF)

My sense of taste worked for the brochure (PDF); organic, colourful, unified, balanced – but that sensibility would be unremarkable & ill-advised as street signage for a one-weekend affair. There aren’t 20 views for the public to get used to its presence. And I’m not brave enough to make something that jars the eye to this extent.

Example: the bright, sky-emulating cyan that caps the vertical banner doesn’t appear on Elmvale’s main drag. Remember the bright blue women were wearing in the early aughts? That blue. As fashion, it’s over. I never would have considered it. Yet it stands out & I expect it will be effective, & I said as much before leaving.

The Original Compliment Sandwich

The Original Compliment Sandwich

It’s brilliant in a way, & completely counter to what I feel is Mike’s natural, intuitive sense.

Whether tasteful design or airs toward sophistication, it depends on context. What do you do to stand out?

*sigh* All advertising is noise. Some places have laws limiting it, & some noise is more valuable than others (literal case in point). I remember Barrie had a problem for a short time with single, small, bright, pulsating-every-two-seconds purple/near ultraviolet lights perched atop portable signs (counter to By-law number 2005-093, Section – PDF). They were impossibly intense even in the daytime, &, as a driver, I was relieved at their discontinuation.

When the landscape, urban or otherwise, lacks uniformity, the tasteful is easily lost. Conversely, when everything is cacophonous, minimalism stands out. Take the way our brains filter information: is it law of nature, or LOL of nature?

Elmvale business signage has covered a range of design – utilitarian B+W block letters w/red detail, minimalist Helveticaesque text, script fonts that attempt classiness, as well as some very well-designed logos & genre-specific, easily identifiable store frontage (such as the smart branding of the local bar as an Irish pub – but, oh, those poor greens on the website).

One more point that I can’t resist about the banner: the floor of earthy-ish orange-brown that isn’t Pantone 448C, but reminds me of it, is as appropriate–& therefore perfect–as anything else.

I’d say it’s a great piece of advert.

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Filed under friends, opinion, reviews

These Are the Mikes I Know I Know, These Are the Mikes I Know

Michelangelo. Such a common name.

Michelangelo. Such a common name.

Met a new Mike yesterday. I know – big whoop, right? I’m usually terrible with names (this has improved with medication).

In struggling to remember his, my thought process was

Is it ‘Mike’? Maybe – there are a lot of Mikes out there. But… naw – I know so many Mikes that that’s just what comes to mind; it’s gotta be something else.

Low & behold, upon second meeting, his name’s Mike.

My explanation of this thought process was good for a laugh. I’m relieved he had a sense of humour about it after I remembered two other new names, then recounted another anecdote.

I good friend whom I previously worked with named Mike always swore that he would gather all the Mikes, Michaels, Mitchels, Michelles, Mikaylas, Michels, Micahs, Miguels, Mickeys, Micks, etc., & take over the world.

Could the Marys be our saviours (Marie, Maria, Molly, Miriam, Mariel, Moira, Mariquita, Marjan, Maureen, Mimi, Marilyn, Mia, Marlene, Mariska, Marigold, Rosemary, Annemarie, etc.)?

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You. Yes, You!

You are the result of four billion years of evolutionary success. Fucking act like it.

You are the result of
four billion years of evolutionary success.
Fucking act like it.

You are the result of four billion years of evolutionary success.

Fucking act like it.

Maybe a meme isn’t a reason for a post – maybe it should stay in its natural habitat, FB – but I liked this one too much.

(acquired through friend & fellow musician, Alyssa Wright)

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TCJer Mocks Rob Ford, Atwood Signs It, Goes to eBay

Rob Ford T-shirt by Tom

Rob Ford T-shirt by Tom

[EDIT 2012-08-09: Fellow cartoonist Rachael Wells has informed me that the artist is Gerry Fournier; I’m left to assume Tom did the screen printing, or perhaps just the promotion. I hate being wrong.]

The title says it all. But you want details, amirite?

My fellow Toronto Comic Jammer, Tom (I’m bad with names, & don’t know his surname… which may be the way he prefers it on Teh Intarwebz), made a T-shirt that is more ‘news-item’ than mockery.

The story behind the shirt image

I describe it in journalism terms as it merely depicts, in cartoon form, an actual event. A resident saw Toronto mayor Rob Ford violating the Ontario Highway Act & called him on it.

Just as drawn, Ford flipped his constituent The Bird, & (allegedly) mouthed obscenities through his closed driver’s side window.

Atwood, by George Whiteside

Atwood, by George Whiteside

Enter Atwood

Margaret Atwood (if you live under a rock, she’s a lauded Canadian author) wrote one of my favourite books, The Handmaid’s Tale. A year ago, Ford’s brother & fellow GTA politician Doug declared “I have more libraries in my area than Tim Horton’s” (youtube) & that he would close libraries “in a heartbeat.”

In response, Atwood tweeted:

Noo, not running for Mayor.. too old. Used to think Too Ignorant, but that hasn’t stopped some. :D Appreciate the kind thoughts however!

‘Twas a much milder jab at government than I would have made… hmm, than I have made, actually.

But then, Ford the Younger spoke directed public insult by essentially saying, & I paraphrase, “Margaret Who?” Which is funny, b/c one perspective is that he actually insulted himself:

They don’t have to read Margaret Atwood, or like her, but to not even know who she is?  To talk about her as if she was nothing, a nobody, someone completely irrelevant??? Doug Ford was not just conveying ignorance of Margaret Atwood, he was conveying contempt, and his contempt for people who value books…

Fanado Logo

Fanado Logo

Onward eBay Soldiers

Atwood signed one of Tom’s shirts to auction off as a fundraiser for the Fanado mobile app. From the eBay post:

How do you top a RARE, one of a kind collectible caricature of Toronto’s affable Rob Ford? Get Margaret Atwood to sign it! …guaranteed to be the envy of all your friends, Facebook and real.

As of this writing, the leading pledge sits at $455. Nice job, Tom!

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