Friday, October 29, 2010

Queen West Art Crawl Mash-Up.

Selection of interviews and attractions at the Queen West Art Crawl in Toronto. DIY artists from across the country came to Trinity Bellwoods Park to showcase their amazing works!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Rolf Paloheimo is a Toronto inventor who designed an energy efficient home. In 1996 he built an eco-friendly home, where he had solar panels built on the roof, converting energy from the sun into electricity. The home is also cut off from the city’s water. Palheimo and his family recycle the water they use. I found it intriguing that a home in downtown Toronto is self sufficient. Check it out!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Queen West Artcrawl in photos

Right below this post, you'll find a wonderful account of our staff's day at the Queen West Artcrawl in Sept.
Click below to check out a few of the coolest things -- and people -- we saw.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Crawling in the park

Goin' Solo took a group trip to the Queen West art crawl last month to get a better feel for the DIY vibe.

Little white tents jam-packed Trinity Bellwoods Park at the outdoor art show and sale. Inside each tent, do-it-yourselfers exhibited their work.

Painters, potters, photographers, poutine and more. Oh yeah, Smoke's Poutinerie even had a cart set up.

From custom metalwork sculptures and glass art designs, to handmade jewelry and ceramic teapots, the event was full of creativity. Street artists AT.AW. added a unique flare to the show. They aim to randomly beautify the city, sometimes by putting natural elements in seemingly mundane places. So don't be too surprised if you stumble upon a lamppost covered in leaves or an ice sculpture in the shape of a hand protruding from a brick wall.

Among the various clothing designers were Awkward Stage, based out of Barrie, ON. They put heavy emphasis on being environmentally conscious by reusing fabrics. They strive to use as much of the fabric as possible, so whatever is left after making a shirt or dress, they will sew into a cute little purse or funky belt.

Visual artists seemed to dominate the event, but we found one photographic artist that really stood out. Corin Ford Forrester takes black and white images of people and blends them with landscapes. For instance, she took a photo of a smokestack and blended the image of an old woman covering her mouth amidst the smoke. Most of her work reflects the impact that humans have on the environment. It's a really cool idea with a strong message.

We tapped our feet to the bluegrass band and made faces at Francois behind his back. But we took photos of that and showed him the evidence, so we don't really feel too bad about it.

At one point, we bumped into George Stroumboulopoulos and chatted with him for a bit. He told us he's a big fan of supporting local artists, so we asked him a few questions. Stay tuned for the video of our interview with the Strombo!!

All in all, we had a successful crawl. We met several DIYers, found some inspiration for potential stories and one of us made a few modest purchases.

P.S. My Awkward Stage purse contains my digital voice recorder, a usb cable and spare batteries:-)

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Animated SOLO - DIY Webcomics and the plight for democracy

When Nemanja Filipovic walks into his art studio, he enters another realm. It’s the realm of Man Made Comics.

“This is a totally aggrandized, narcissistic, beautiful thing,” he said.
The walls that surround Filipovic are covered in gruesome blood-red paint. His workspace is cluttered with his favourite comic art by Steve McNiven from Marvel Comics. Filipovic says this is how he gets his inspiration when he sits down and creates his graphic novel entitled Man Made.

Filipovic knows the lop-sidedness of the comic book industry; so many artists fighting for very few jobs. He has no other choice. If he wishes to crack one of the big companies he needs to act fast and act now.

“Going through a publisher is complicated and expensive. When you’re just trying to get your name out there, online is the quickest route and it’s the easiest way to connect to most people,” he explained.

The Internet has provided artists and anyone with an Internet connection, a vast landscape where do-it-yourselfers can simply build their own brand and publish their own work. Online publishing and the rise of webcomics are changing the definition of comics. Artists and editors agree this shift ultimately helps the industry by challenging an artist to be better.

Tom Spurgeon, former editor of the Comics Journal, now working under his own online brand,, says the move to online is popular decision among amateur artists.

“You’re talking about an exponential increase on the number of people that can read your work,” Spurgeon said. “It seems perfectly natural for a certain generation to publish online or self-publish.”

Anyone can publish something online in a very few steps. With free blog services and low-rate domain names; a comic creator can build a website with just a few mouse clicks.
Spurgeon said the biggest challenge a DIY webcomic faces, is finding a way of turning eyeballs into money.

Ryan North, founder of Dinosaur Comics has managed to make his DIY webcomic a living. For North print wasn’t an option.

“The main advantage for doing your own thing online is that I recognize that my comic isn’t for everyone; maybe it’s for one in 10 people,” he said. “When you go online, one in 10 people will tell someone else, and you get a broader audience.”

But the cash flow didn’t happen overnight. North advises amateurs considering full time to be consistent and update regularly.

“There’s no formula though,” he said. “One person compared it to the recipe for making bear stew. Step one, catch the bear. Then step two is really easy.”

Spurgeon explains that the comic book culture of today has a commercial focus, maximizing profits and sticking with what’s worked in the past, most notably, superhero comics.

This focus ultimately makes these companies successful, but where these companies ignore other styles of comic books, the online community features a very diverse and inclusive definition of comics.

Adriana Blake, author and artist of “Fall on Me,” believes the move to online enriches
the comic medium.
“It’s given the opportunity for… different ways of telling and re-telling comics,” she said. “It really challenges the artist to step up and do better.”

Excerpt from "Fall on Me" Courtesy of Adriana Blake.

Blake’s style reflects the traditional newspaper comic. The main characters in the webcomic consist of Adriana and her husband. Her inspiration and her product fit nicely into the webcomic niche.

“I’m happy that this is something funny enough that I can share with other people,” she said. “Sometimes reality is funnier than fiction.”

North’s Dinosaur Comics also veer away from the norm. His comics consist of the same six panels showing a T-Rex conversing with a smaller dinosaur. Every day, North simply changes the dialogue in those six panels. North loves the idea of waking up and working for him.

“It’s a lot of fun and it’s great to have that sort of control over your life, to be able to decide that I’m going to work on this today,” he said.

Dinosaur Comics have appeared in many college and university newspapers across North America; proof that in fact there are people out there looking for something off-collar.

“Online offers a lot of chances to do something new and figure out what works, your options are wide open,” he said. “There’s a democracy to putting your stuff online.”

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Webcomics: The Animated SOLO

What is it that drags people down the Do-it-yourself highway? Freedom, power, pride or philosophy? After speaking to two comic book writers the reason seems to be popular. To avoid the feelings of helplessness and the jail cell they check themselves into when someone else controls there work.

A common path we've discovered amongst these DIYers, is they want to work under their terms only. And the Internet has cybernetic-ally given these talented DIYers a global landscape where they can show their comics to millions of viewers. Free of charge.

Sounds great doesn't it? Working under your own terms, your carefully crafted schedule fitting perfectly into your life. Sounds like music to my ears, now I just need to make a career out of it!

Easier said than done.

Although publishing the work online on your website is free, it also means the amount box on your paycheck reads FREE.

If you're thinking.. "What's the point?" then don't read on, because it probably means you've never loved anything and you need to stop reading and go out and find love.

If you're thinking... "Who are they and where do they find the courage to enter the DIY realm?" Please, stay tuned for more.