Fashioned by the hugely talented Jerry Rugg aka Bird0, a delightful range of brightly-hued, surrealistic geometric creatures have made their way onto Toronto’s visual landscape.  We were delighted to meet the artist while visiting Toronto and have the chance to interview him.

When and where did you first get up?

It was in 2002 in Toronto with a wretched, shitty, embarrassing tag.

What inspired you at the time?

The 90’s freight graffiti that I saw on the Canadian Prairies.

Do any early graffiti-related memories stand out?

Discovering that someone in my local town — Rove CBS — was a great graffiti artist and watching him paint.

Have you painted with any crews?

Six years of mayhem with the DMC crew!


These days, would you rather work legally or illegally?

 I’d rather not be in handcuffs!

What is the riskiest thing you ever did?

Quit my day job.

What are your preferred surfaces?

I like painting outdoors – the bigger the surface the better.

Have you any thoughts regarding street artists’ engagement with the corporate world?

We have to pay our bills and we have to sleep at night. I guess it’s up to the individual to strike a balance.


What about exhibits? Have you shown your work in formal settings?

Yes. I’ve participated in quite a few group shows.

Would you rather paint alone or collaborate with others?

I’m a lone wolf. But I like the concept of collaborating and I like interacting with others. It’s part of our evolution as artists.

Any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

There is friction; they’re different mentalities painting the same surfaces. I’ve always believed that you gotta give respect to get respect.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art these days?

All if it!


Do you work with a sketch in hand or do you let it flow?

I always have a sketch. I’m very strategic.

Have you a formal art education?

The graffiti culture has been my teacher.

Are there any particular cultures – besides the graffiti culture – that have influenced your aesthetic?

Not any specific cultures  — but movements, like Surrealism and artists like Escher and Dali.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished work?

People who know me best would likely say I’m rarely satisfied with anything.


How has your work evolved through the years?

My style is similar, but my technique has evolved, particularly the way I work with shapes.

How do you feel about the photographers and bloggers in this scene?

I love it!  We artists are in the business of exposure.

What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

Artists are independent thinkers.  Our role is to mix things up.  Artists should challenge, disrupt, or beautify.

 What’s ahead?

Traveling, painting, drinking tea. Repeat.

Sounds good! We hope you make it to NYC soon!

Photo credits: 1, 3-5 courtesy the artist; 2 Lois Stavsky; interview conducted by Lois Stavsky with Tara Murray

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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Swarming the streets of Toronto are an abundance of animals. Pictured above is a close-up from a huge mural by Bruno Smoky. Here are several more:

Also by Toronto-based Brazilian artist Bruno Smoky

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Toronto-based Jerry Rugg aka birdO


Also by Jerry Rugg aka Birdo and Mediah


Canadian artist Nick Sweetman


Toronto-based tattoo artist Jonny Cakes


Canadian artist Li-Hill, close-up


Photo credits: 1, 4 & 6 Lois Stavsky; 2, 3, 5 & 7 Tara Murray

Note: Hailed in a range of media from Wide Walls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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The streets of Toronto — particularly on and off Queens Street West — teem with curious characters. The image pictured above was painted by Canadian native Troy Lovegates. Several more follow:

NYC-based Buff Monster


Toronto-based Poser ABM


The Toronto-based PA System artists Alexa Hatanaka and Patrick Thompson


Atlanta-based Greg Mike (on right) & artist to be identified

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Montreal-based en masse


Photo credits: 1 & 4 Lois Stavsky; 2, 3, 5 & 6 Tara Murray

Note: Hailed in a range of media from Wide Walls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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The largest park built under an underpass in Canada, Underpass Park is also an exuberant open-air street art museum. The outstanding graffiti and street art that grace the park’s columns were fashioned with support from StreetARToronto aka StART, Mural Routes and the Pan Am Path. The mural pictured above was painted by Montreal-based Jason Botkin. Several more images I captured last week — while visiting Toronto — follow:

Toronto-based graffiti master Recka


Peruvian-Canadian muralist Peru143


Toronto-based Jerry Rugg aka Birdo


Toronto-based Spud


Toronto-based Shalak Attack


Award-winning Chilean artist Fiya Bruxa and Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist Nick Sweetman


The renowned Toronto-based artists Labrona and Troy Lovegates aka Other


Photos by Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from Wide Walls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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Queens-based artist Steve Lew aka Kid Lew recently brought his talents and vision to Toronto’s Enterprise Boulevard. The new urban complex — known as Downtown Markham – is now graced with a huge, brilliantly hued 40’x50’ mural, featuring Kid Lew’s iconic characters. Situated on the northeast corner of the Remington Contemporary Art Gallery, it can be seen for miles and by thousands of folks daily as they pass by on Highway 407. I recently spoke to the artist about his experience.

Can you tell us something about this project? What brought you to Toronto?

I had been invited by Broadway Bound — a fine arts and entertainment company — to paint an outdoor mural in Downtown Markham. I had submitted a few ideas, and one was accepted.


And how did you initially connect with Broadway Bound?

I had met Shelley Shier, the founder of Broadway Bound, at the Dorien Grey Gallery back in 2012. I was one of the street artists who had collaborated with Hank O’Neil aka XCIA for the exhibit Street Artists Unite. We’ve stayed in touch since.

Your mural is huge! How long did it take you to paint it?

It took 12 days, working 8-10 hours each day.


What were some of the challenges presented by this project?

I almost always paint standing on the ground. But this time I started on the third floor of a building. I immediately got over my fear of heights!  It was also rainy and very windy. I could feel the lift swinging from side to side! Sometimes the wind actually sprayed the paint! Then when I walked around the hotel, I felt as though everything beneath me was moving! I had a serious case of lift lag!

I’ve been a huge fan of your characters since I first discovered them years ago — on the streets and in galleries! Can you tell us something about them? What initially inspired them? 

I was intially inspired by cartoons. I began as a young child copying Disney characters. And later on my main influences grew to include: graffiti, skateboarding, NYC pop culture and — in general — life in this city. But my greatest inspiration in Keith Haring. And because I am color blind, I tend to use colors that appear brightest to me — those that can be seen at night.


And who are these characters? What do they represent? And how have they evolved through the years?

They’re often not as bright as they appear to be. They represent different phases in my life. And as my life evolves, my characters continue to evolve, as well. Both my technique and design have become more refined through the years. I am also more responsive to my audience.

What’s next?

I hope to return to Jersey City to complete the mural I’d begun with Will Power and Ree. It is a huge mural that was put on hold. I’m, also, looking forward to painting more large-scale murals in a range of cities. And I am participating this weekend in the New York Comic Con, where you will be able to purchase custom used Montana Gold Spray Paint cans and ink drawings on spray painted subway maps. I will be signing some at 2pm at Booth 603 with Clutter Magazine.


Good luck with it all!  And I look forward to checking out your mural when I visit Toronto.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; all photos courtesy of the artist.

Note: Hailed in a range of media from the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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