Saturday, April 16, 2016

How a financial corporation supports local artists by connecting them to a wider audience


Toronto Urban Sketchers TD Gallery of Inuit Art Toronto Dominium
Toronto Urban Sketchers at the TD Gallery of Inuit Art



Do you know about the TD Gallery of Inuit Art? 

I certainly didn’t until a receptionist from the Museum of Inuit Art in the Harbourfront told me about it. Of course, I had to check it out. So I decided to organize an urban sketching session at the TD Gallery, located right in the heart of the city in the Financial District. 

Turns out this great little gallery is the result of a vision from Allen Lambert, TD's former chairman and president in the 60s, who recognized the potential for art to make a personal connection and start conversations. After working as a branch manager in Yellowknife in the late 40s, Lambert developed an interest and deep respect for natives and their artwork. He believed that displaying art in the workplace would not only enhance the corporate environment, but would also enhance the lives of the staff and customers as the art would provide a way to forge relationships. 
“I feel that the value of a Corporate Collection is not just a matter of dollars or decoration. It is the commitment by the corporation of its concern for a fuller quality to life; an extra dimension is added to the normal business day by providing a stimulating and sometimes challenging environment for our staff, customers, and visitors.”
He also hoped that this would enable Inuits to inform others about their culture and tradition. I would say that’s exactly what he did for the Toronto Urban Sketchers. By providing free public access to the gallery, the bank is helping more people better understand and connect to Inuit art. On April 9, 2016 about twenty urban sketchers made their way to the gallery to sketch some of the sculptures beautifully displayed in the mezzanine of a Mies Van Der Rohe building located at 79 Wellington St. Sketching the artwork enable them to spend some time with the artwork and develop an new appreciation and understanding if Inuit art and culture. 

It’s very encouraging and inspiring to see corporations like TD take it upon itself to purchase local artworks and to share them with the general public. Toronto is not yet at the point where museums are free like in London, UK and Washington, DC which restrict access to some members of the population. So it’s great to see some corporations taking the lead on enabling more people from the general public to connect with the artwork of local artists. In this case, they’re contributing to raising the awareness of Inuit art and its significance in the history of the country which for some reason have been lacking in the classrooms (at least at the time when I was a student).

So how does TD's project support local artists? 
1. TD Bank buys local artwork
To date, the TD Bank Canadian Art Collection, comprising Contemporary Canadian and Inuit art, includes over 5000 works. The bank originally acquired 1000 inuit artworks. While 200 of them are displayed in the gallery, the rest, including inuit prints and drawings, are located in offices throughout the bank’s global operation. Most of the larger domestic and international offices own at least one inuit sculpture.

2. TD Bank familiarizes its staff to local art
As a result of the bank's corporate art collection, many employees have been able to develop a greater appreciation of Inuit art without having to make a special trip to a museum or gallery. For some individuals, having ready access to works of art has sparked their own personal collecting activities or helped stimulate creative thinking in their day-to-day work. 

3. TD Bank showcases local artwork as part of its marketing process
Through the years, TD's marketing efforts reinforced their association with Inuit art.  An Inuit carving is often presented as a gift to important clients, visitors, retiring board members, or dignitaries. Also, for several years, an annual corporate Christmas card highlighting a sculpture from the collection was produced.

Toronto Urban Sketchers TD Gallery of Inuit Art Toronto Dominium
Toronto Urban Sketchers at the TD Gallery of Inuit Art
Toronto Urban Sketchers TD Gallery of Inuit Art Toronto Dominium
Toronto Urban Sketchers at the TD Gallery of Inuit Art
Toronto Urban Sketchers TD Gallery of Inuit Art Toronto Dominium
Toronto Urban Sketchers at the TD Gallery of Inuit Art

Getting acquainted with Inuit Art 
I was particularly attracted to a carving by Osuitok Ipeelee from Nunavut called Mythical Owl. The way the wings are positioned above its head and its twisted tentacle-legs were intriguing and inspired me to sketch it. I wish there was a bit more information about the actual artwork. It's great to know the name of the artist and the title of the work but I have so many questions like : Why the owl? What does it represent? Why do its legs look like tentacles? Why are the wings placed above its head? Does the position of the owl mean anything? Etc. It did however start a conversation with fellow sketchers about how the carvings are typically created and how the artists typically start by sitting with the stone to visualize what’s "hidden" in the stone before they proceed to remove the unwanted pieces of stone and reveal the hidden gem within it. What a fascinating concept! That could also explain why the figures are not an accurate replica of a particular animal or person, and can have unusual characteristics like the Mythical Owl.

Toronto Urban Sketchers TD Gallery of Inuit Art Toronto Dominium
My rendition of the Mythical Owl by Osuitok Ipeelee at the TD Gallery of Inuit Art
You can see a quick timelapse of my sketch here


Toronto Urban Sketchers TD Gallery of Inuit Art Toronto Dominium
Some of the sketches from the Toronto Urban Sketchers at the TD Gallery of Inuit Art


The sketchers created quite a nice range of artwork including sketches of the sculpture, the space and other sketchers. Everyone looked like they had a great time interacting with Inuit Art. I highly recommend you checking out the TD Gallery of Inuit Art next time you’re in the area. It is open 7 days a week and admission is free. Since the gallery opened to the public in 1986, the bank has maintain its commitment to do the collection justice and share it with the community. I hope this inspired other corporation to do the same as it’s a great example of how large corporation an artists can work together to enhance the lives of the community as a whole. Artwork should be shared with everyone. While not everyone can afford to own an original artwork, they should be able to see and appreciate them in public spaces like this and it's great to see companies doing something about it. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

BOOK / SHOP



Color Your Stress Away (Small): Geometrical Patterns and Quotes
Coloring Book for Adults - Pocket Size Edition
March 31, 2015 | Paperback

$13.99


COLOR YOUR STRESS AWAY! Color to reconnect with yourself! Color to ease your mind. With each minute enjoyed coloring this coloring book, the abstract geometrical patterns can help reduce anxiety the easy way. While it's well known and documented that meditation is an effective tool to improve mental health and well being, it can be difficult to get into. Coloring is a great and easier alternative to give similar benefits anytime and anywhere. If you're feeling anxious, stressed out, overwhelmed or even bored, you may benefit from coloring. The pocket size edition of Color Your Stress Away : Geometrical Patterns is easy to use at home, on vacation or on the go during a lunch break. It also features inspiring art quotes to spark your creativity and help brighten your day with a little bit of color. Get the benefits of meditation the easy way with a couple minutes of mindless coloring to keep your stress at bay and have a little fun.




DETAILS


Format : Paperback 208 pages
Dimension : 5 x 0.5 x 8 in
Published : March 31, 2016
Publisher : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Language : English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN-10: 1530120985 
ISBN-13: 978-1530120987

Friday, March 04, 2016

Toronto Urban Sketchers Celebrating Toronto



A couple months ago I got a chance to meet Micayla who's the founder of Celebrate Toronto : A growing event celebrating the birthday of the city. Toronto's turning 182 years old this year and for the past 3 years she's been honouring the official birth of the city by throwing it a party. As part of the festivities, artists are invited to submit their artwork to showcase and sell the night of the show and throughout the entire month of March. This year, 10 Toronto Urban Sketchers, including myself, will be participating to the artshow. Above are the three artwork that I submitted for the show, two of which are also in our recent publication : Urban Sketching Disappearing Landmarks in Toronto

The celebrations will take place tomorrow, Saturday March 6, 2016. Here's a sneak peek of the installations :

I also got a chance to interview Micayla for my podcast a couple weeks ago. Below is a highlight regarding the event. 


You can still get you tickets for the show on the main site or at the door. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Missed Opportunity at the Roy Thomson Hall

Roy Thomson Hall Toronto Urban Sketchers Watercolor Sketch
I've been fascinated by the Roy Thomson Hall for a while. Located on the corner of King St. W and Simcoe St, it is hard to miss this unique building in the shape of a cone with its top cut off : a conical frustum (I just learned that word). Mostly composed of glass windows arranged in a beautiful geometrical pattern, the hall opened its doors in 1982, thanks to the Roy Thomson's family who generously donated $4.5 million to help with the the fundraising efforts to complete its construction.

Roy Thomson Hall is connected to the Toronto PATH, which is an underground pedestrian walkway connecting several buildings and subway stations in the downtown core. This feature is particularly useful in the winter months when it's too cold to sketch outside. Along the PATH, there's a nice view of the Hall from across a pond. The pond is drained in the winter. Apparently, the original plan of the architect Arthur Erickson, was for the pond to be an ice skating rink in the winter. But I don't think it's ever been used for that, which is a shame and a missed opportunity. Having people skating there would bring the space to life and make better use of it. Instead, it lies empty for a couple months every year. Still it's a great sight for sketchers in the winter and most of us set up camp in the hall facing the ponds to sketch the view from indoors. I will have to come back there in the summer as suggested by a passerby who told me that"it's much nicer in the summer."   


Roy Thomson Hall Toronto Urban Sketchers Watercolor Sketch

Friday, February 19, 2016

A New Coffee Kiosk at Union Station

Toronto Urban Sketchers Union Station Pilot coffee watercolor art

The Toronto Urban Sketchers recently gathered at Union Station for a sketching session. What caught my attention was a new coffee shop kiosk called pilot, right in the middle of the space. The booth has a unique shape is reminiscent of a paper airplane. I wonder if the name was the inspiration behind the design of the space. Not that coffee has much to do with a plane, other than perhaps the fact that it's imported and may have travelled by plane. I couldn't find any information about the story behind the name on their website. Maybe the concept of the plane was the idea of the architect, Williamson Chong, or maybe it's pure coincidence. But the shape of the booth definitely got my attention, so I sketched it. There is not a lot of space for the baristas so efficiency is key. There were only 1-2 of them working behind the counter on rotation while we were sketching. Speaking of baristas, I've been wondering why this "new" term is being used for the staff working behind the counter in coffee shops. Turns out it's an Italian word for bartender. Now you know :) 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Random Act of Kindness

Random Act of Kindness Coloring book donation Red Door Family Shelter Toronto

I've always like the concept of the random act of kindness, the kind that pushes you out of your comfort zone. A couple years ago I created mini artwork pieces and left them on the bulletin board for people to have.  Recently I decided to donate coloring books to a women shelter and then extended that offer to a local family shelter by creating a Go Fund Me Campaign. It was a little nerve racking because I'm not the kind of person who asks for help, let alone donations, but I figured it would enable me to give a little more. So I ran the campaign and was able to raise $210 to go towards more coloring books, a little handwritten note from me as well as colored pencils and sharpeners. I just sent the first packaged to the shelter in Toronto and will be sending the second one on its way to Ottawa shortly. I really hope this brings whoever receives them some joy and positive energy, but it's out of my hands now. I did my part and I'm glad I didn't listen to that voice that always tries to dissuade me from doing something different, even though it's a nice thing to do. How silly is that? 


Tuesday, February 09, 2016

What I Use to Record my YouTube Videos

BEHIND THE SCENES OF TORONTO REAL


One of the first things on my list of to do's when I decided to embark on my YouTuber journey with the Toronto Real podcast was to figure out what kind of camera I needed. I was looking for something simple, that was easy to use, that could be operated by only one person and relatively inexpensive. I did a bit of research on YouTube to see what some of the prominent YouTubers were using, and although most of them were using cameras in the $1000 range, many of them made sure to say that gears didn't matter. The best camera is the one you have. Casey Neistat, a prominent filmmaker and YouTuber, recently did a really neat video called Casey Neistat's Guide to Filmmaking where he explains and shows the differences between various cameras ranging from about a hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars. You can see the different results from each, but they all do a good job, enabling the creators to tell a story, which is the most important thing and requires the most attention.

In my case I had (still have) an iPhone 5c. Studying the scenes on London Real TV, I noticed that they use at least 3 cameras (one of the host, one on the guest and one on both of them at the same time). So I figured I probably needed at least one more camera so that I could have one to capture the guest and one to capture both of us. I think it's a good idea to have at least two cameras, not only to be able to capture different angles, but also as a back up in case on of them fail during the interview. This is something that has helped me from the very first interview. When I was recording my conversation with Jade, the alarm on my phone when on and as a result it stop recording. But since there were two cameras recording at the same time, the other one kept going while I restarted the phone.

USING THE IPHONE
Using the phone for long movies is a little tricky. There's only so much space your phone can take. Being that I didn't have plans to record videos with my phone at the time I purchased it, I chose the one with  16GB of storage as opposed to 32GB. I quickly realized that I had to make sure I took out all my songs and images from the phone so that it can record for a long period of time. With about 10GB of space, I can record about 2 hours. When I have an interview coming up, I typically un-sync all my songs, audiobooks, apps that I don't use and photos to have the required amount of space to record my conversation. Another important tip is to turn on the Airplane Mode before recording so you don't get a phone call during the interview, which will automatically stop the recording if the phone does ring. I put the phone in selfie mode so it's easy to see what will be recorded and the phone is held by a GripTight Mount on top of an Action Clamp and GorillaPod Arm attached to the table. This was my set up for the first couple interviews. But I wanted it to be a little higher so I got a inexpensive mid-Size Tripod to hold the camera instead. I recently learned that the quality of the image on the selfie side is not as good as the one on the back of the phone, so I plan to start recording the other way the next time around and see if I can get a better image.

USING THE CAMCORDER
The camcorder is a little more complex to operate than the iPhone but offers more recording time, provided that you get a good memory card because the one that came with the one I bought didn't have a lot of storage so I bought a 32GB memory card to be able to record in HD. The camcorder is located on the conference table facing both of us on  the same tripod I got from a local store.

USING TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF CAMERA
One thing I noticed about using different cameras is that the image is not the same. The colors don't look quite the same. I'm still playing around with the various settings on the camcorder and also while editing to correct it as much as possible, but I imagine having two similar cameras would eliminate that issue. Something to keep in mind.


Below are affiliate links to the equipments I use :

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge

Reading Challenge 2016 Big Magic Elizabeth Gilbert Open Andre Agassi The Seven Secrets to Becoming a multi-millionaire Bill Straton the Body Book Cameron Diaz Andy Warhol Susan Goldman Rubin Leonardo DaVinci Isaac Newton Kathleen Krull

It's interesting to see how things change over the years. About four years ago, I got a glimpse of one of Bob Proctor's video online and heard him talk about the importance of reading to get to know ourselves better. When he said that, something clicked. I had never thought about reading books that would directly benefit me in my day to day life before. How crazy is that!? I always thought books were for fun or to pass my engineering exams. And since I wasn't interested in fiction books, I  was done with books after graduating from university. I just didn't read much except for what was required from my job at the time and occasional magazines. Fast forward a couple years later, after getting this new insight from Proctor, a new reason to start reading, I'm planning to read a new book every week in 2016. I went from about 6 books in 2013, to 12 books in 2014 and 24 books in 2015 and now I'm planning to read 52 books this year, something I never would have even considered just a couple years ago. 

Why so many books? First because there's so much to learn from so many amazing people who've gone through various experiences and took the time to pass on their information to anyone interested. Second, because the more I hear various concepts I'm not familiar with, the better I understand them. I get to view them from various perspectives which gives me a wider perspective on everything.  

When it comes to deciding on what books to read, I have a list composed from recommendations and suggestions based on what I read and people I follow, but I'm also open to whatever falls into my lap when I look for books. Sometimes, random books catch my attention at the right time and that's something I'm very open to. Having access to audiobooks from the Toronto Public Library is also a major factor in my ability to go through so many books. It's great to see that libraries are evolving with our times. You can still get physical copies of book in various locations (which is great), but you can also borrow ebooks and audiobooks from the comfort of your home and even directly from your phone. If there's something you'd like to fix, change or better understand in your life, chances are there's a book for that. I encourage you to start reading books that will benefit you in your day to day life. It's definitely one of the best habit I picked up a couple years ago.

So far this year, I've read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Open by Andre Agassi, The Body book by Cameron Diaz, Andy Warhol Pop Art Painter by Susan Goldman Rubin, The Seven Secrets to Becoming a multi-millionaire by Bill Straton, Leonardo DaVinci and Isaac Newton both by Kathleen Krull. I might write a couple reviews in the future. But Big Magic had some great concept about ideas and creativity, Agassi gave me a glimpse of what it takes to be number 1 in the world, Cameron Diaz had some neat little tricks that I started to integrate in my days sparked my curiosity about health and fitness. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Urban Sketching Disappearing Landmarks in Toronto

Urban Sketching Disappearing Landmarks in Toronto Book on Amazon Urban Sketchers

Toronto is said to be one of Canada’s fastest growing cities. Consequently, you’ll see a lot of construction year round in the city. Old small buildings are being replaced by new tall buildings in every corners of the city. I’ve only been living in Toronto for a little over two years, and already many areas don’t look the same as they did only two years ago. This growth often comes at the expense of the architectural history of the city often to the sadness of long time residents who have a history with some of these buildings. This gave  the Toronto Urban Sketchers the idea of creating a book capturing some of the landmarks of the city before they disappear, as a way to commemorate them in a creative way. So over the past couple months, we gathered around places like Honest Ed’s, the Cookbook Store, Captain John’s Restaurant Boat and more, to capture their portrait while we still had time.

21 sketchers collaborated in putting together our first book : Urban Sketching Disappearing Landmarks in Toronto. We self published the book. Towards the end of 2015, I got invited by CBC Radio to talk about the book. The interview inspired me to create a little video montage of our journey thus far.  It’s a great little memento that you can see below. 




If you’re interested in purchasing the book, it is currently available on Amazon. I’m looking into the possibility of having the book available in local bookstores and libraries. It’s a first for me so we’ll see how that goes. But it was a great experience for myself and for the group and we’ll probably try to create another one this year.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Becoming a YouTuber



As some of you already know, I recently started a YouTube channel called Toronto Real. It was not in my plans. It was one of these surprise opportunities that essentially fell on my lap and I decided to just go for it. So now I'm also a YouTuber, albeit a very novice YouTuber at the moment. Here's the story behind how it all started. 

Over the past couple years, I've replaced watching television with listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos. I think the seed of the idea of me starting my own podcast was planted when a guest on the Joe Rogan Experience, named Brian Rose and his then co-host Nic Gabriel, talked about the London Real podcast. They seemed like nice guys. Brian said something about how everyone should start their own version of London Real in their city and I thought it was a neat idea but that was about it. Fast forward a couple months later, I was redirected to the London Real podcast and started to pay more attention, especially when Dan Peña came along and invited Brian to his QLA Seminar in Scotland. Shortly after that, the London Real Academy was launched, and then I heard the call : "Build the best you". As soon as I got an invite to join, I signed up. 

SUPER MARIO MAGIC MUSHROOMS
This reminds me of a lesson I learned watching Alex Ikonn’s YouTube channel where he was explaining that people don’t buy things because of the things themselves but because of what they believe the thing will do for them. He compared it to the video game Super Mario where Mario collects magic mushrooms to become more efficient in his quest. A good business is a magic mushroom maker in a world of Super Marios looking for ways to improved themselves in their personal journey. It made sense to me. And now, thinking back about why I decided to click “buy” and join the Academy is because Brian was essentially offering one of the "magic mushrooms" I was looking for : Build the best you. Keep in mind however that it is not a quick fix. There’s work to do. A lot of work. Once Mario gets stronger after eating the mushroom, he still has to run around to various places, step on turtles, climb lathers, avoid and fight monsters to get to the princess. In my case, I still have to work but I have a better map and I get to pick up extra tools along the way.

Joining the Academy let me to meet people literally from all over the world with a similar mindset, similar goals of building their best selves and a lot are also keen to pitch in and help wherever they can. Then this idea of podcast started to marinate in my mind. First, I just thought it would be great to have one in Toronto. I put it out there to see if anyone would bite. No one did. And then Olive, from New York Real suggested I do it. "Me!!? Well... I’m not... I don’t think... I...[insert excuse here]" Why not? Perhaps it would be a great opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone, talk to interesting people about interesting topic and share the conversations with my viewers. 

It sounded a little crazy, totally off track, but I asked myself : "Will I regret it if I don’t try? If someone else does it instead?" The more I thought about it, the more it seems like the benefits outweighed the obstacles and fear. So within a couple days, my mind was made : "I'm going to start Toronto Real!" I signed up on Twitter and on YouTube and started planning. 

Fast forward 6 months laters, I have 6 interviews online. And more coming. It's great to see the progress in only 6 episodes and it will be even more fun when I get to 50, then 100 episodes. In this short period of time, I've learned so much already not only from creating the channel but also meeting and talking to great people. And it's great to see so many new Reals emerging from all over the world on various topics. It will be interesting to see where this all goes. In the mean time, I'll be sharing my journey whenever I can.

Toronto Real Podcast Guests Jade Jager Clark, Oliver Manalese, Jon Waterlow, Ron Tsang, Peter Assentoft, Erik Mut

If you have an opportunity in your life at the moment that has the potential of making you grow and become a better version of yourself. Do it. What do you have to lose, really? If it doesn't work, you'll become wiser and will avoid wondering "what if" for the rest of your life. If it works, you get to be more. I would say that's a win-win,  don't you think?