Toronto-based Gary Taxali is an outstanding artist and has exhibited all over the world. His incredible lines and wonderful characters on screen printed backgrounds belie a complexity that puts him in a class above most artists. He also makes toys and books, and they love him so much in Canada he’s even been asked to help art direct what their stamps will look like.
Hey Gary, how’s it going?
It’s going swell. Thank you for asking. The fall is a beautiful time of the year in Toronto.
What’s your weapon of choice? What pen and paintbrush can you not do without?
Straight to the technique, eh? I’d say it’s a combination of screen printing and painting. I draw everyday and love using any kinds of pens. I love my Lamy but also feel equal love for Uniballs. I have no love for pencils. Don’t care for them. They’re for voting on ballots, not drawing. When you draw with an implement where its marks cannot be removed, that’s where you find your soul. It’s an honest reaction to drawing. When the line can be removed (edited, redrawn, etc), the process becomes insincere and contrived.
Have you ever fancied yourself as a sign-writer? Would you be interested in taking over a whole pier or something?
I’m a sign-writer fan. I’m amazed at what some people can do, and what’s out there. Not so much in stuff these days, but from the past. If I had the chance (coupled with an appropriate budget – hey, this is my job after all), I’d like to take over a whole pier, and why not, several ships to boot. Let’s go crazy.
You work on pretty much anything, scrap paper, wood, metal… Is there anything in particular you’d love to try – ancient papyrus or, I dunno, scrap metal from space? Or are you just happy working on anything that’s not plain white paper?
I’m actually not adverse to plain white paper. I mostly sketch on the cheap stuff purchased from the business supply store. Hardly ever sketchbooks. Sketchbooks are precious keepsakes. When you draw creatively unhinged, you have to let all the crazy stuff come out. Sketchbooks are automatic memoirs and as such, I never felt comfortable drawing in them. Plus, the book’s gutter gets in the way. Mind you, I keep some for traveling but that’s just making the best of the situation. As for materials, the sky’s the limit. But since you mentioned space scrap metals, I’m going to go with space being the limit. Bring it on. All of it. Working on large scale public art would be fun.
You seem to be able to make anything into a living being with its own personality. Do you see the potential of everything you see when you’re out and about? Do you mentally put a face on garbage/broken signs/boxing gloves as you walk past them?
Oh, indeed. It’s fun to imagine possibilities all the time. But sometimes things are too obvious and I immediately dismiss them. I prefer textures and as you said, old signs (typography) more than interesting objects.
Where can we see more of your work?
I am in a group show coming up in Paris at Arts factory. I will have a room devoted to my limited edition prints. It opens on Nov 21 and runs until Dec 23. As well, my new book is about to be released any day now. It’s called “Happiness With A Caveat” and is a collection of my works. Next year, I have a solo show at The Jonathan LeVine Gallery. If people want to get on my list, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. My new book is also available for purchase online at garytaxali.com by going to “The Shop”.