I STUMBLED UPON Gary Taxali a few years ago while randomly searching for strong, graphic work as inspiration for a product design commission I was doing for the Nova Scotia Agricultural College’s ORIGINS Project. Upon discovery of Gary’s work, I was instantly hooked.
Being a Canadian artist myself, I strive to put priority on Canadian artists when featuring on my blog. After doing a little research, I came to happily discover that the artist/illustrator is based out of Toronto.
Reasons I Love You (2014) © GARY TAXALI
Chump and Friends (2014) © GARY TAXALI
Hollywood Magic (for Fast Company) © GARY TAXALI
On this side of Eden, Gary is one of the the foremost illustrators working today. He is one of those artists who fall under the category of stellar; being both prolific and talented on a enviable level. He has worked for such clients as TIME, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, including film and television such as Warner Pictures, Paramount, and MTV. As Gary’s work has been in books, newspapers and magazines, he has also designed album art for rock/folk singer-songwriter Aimee Mann. Gary is also a fine artist, aside from being an award-winning illustrator, and his diversity in medium and aesthetic is evident in his work. “I think my style is suited to everything – a picture is a picture.”, Gary stated in an interview for Creative Bloq. Aside from his artistic practice, Gary also lectures all over North America and teaches at OCAD University. He also has launched a vinyl line of toys called Chump Toys, which naturally fall into the same category of awesomeness, as the rest of his work. In 2012, the Royal Canadian Mint launched a series of six celebratory 25 cent coins, designed by Gary, which are intended as keepsakes to mark special occasions, with themes ranging from birthday to wedding (and even the tooth fairy). The coins can be seen here: http://www.ocadu.ca/about_ocad/articles/headlines_archive/20120123_gary_taxali_coins.htm.
Back Door Tactics (for Forbes Magazine) © GARY TAXALI
Wonder (2012) © GARY TAXALI
Working in an array of media, Gary Taxali’s work manifests from serigraphy, mixed media, installation, painting, sculpture and assemblage. Though his work avoids the air of nostalgia and the sentimental, his graphic inspiration harkens the work of EC Segar (creator of Popeye), the Fleischer Brothers, Dr. Seuss; Maurice Sendak, 1930s typography, vintage comics and advertising, Russian Constructivism, and Pop artist Andy Warhol. While there is a clear reference to these vintage Greats, Gary’s approach in how he integrates this aesthetic is fresh and purely contemporary. His work is rather a map or grid-work of images, old and new, that seem to poke humour at, yet reveal the fragility of our modern, somewhat superficial and consumerist culture. Gary states about his own work “It continues with my preoccupation of constant paradoxes such as human relationships, love, isolation, period advertisements, propaganda and economic despair and frustration” (from The Outsiders).
Gary’s work brings a smile to my face, and while his work is much more than just its aesthetic element, it helps me to remember that there is still merit and influence in the bold and bright, iconic graphics of yesterday. When applied and/or appropriated thoughtfully, it is interesting to see how it has impacted contemporary art practice and design. This, I find none doing better than a small handful, in which Gary stands out.
Hindi Nic Names (2009) © GARY TAXALI
Northern Lights © GARY TAXALI
You can view more on Gary Taxali’s website: