In keeping with the 2019/20 season theme of “old meets new,” we are thrilled to work with Christopher Rouleau, one of Toronto's shining designers and lettering artists. You may recognize some of his work including the Dishonest Signs series and the Toronto the Great series.
For the concert image for Haus Musik: Café Counterculture, we asked Christopher to add his special touch to an archive photo of Yorkville from the 1960s, and he did not disappoint! Learn more about the person behind the letters with our Q&A below.
Haus Musik: Tell us a little about yourself, and how you started in your field of art.
Christopher Rouleau: I am a designer and hand-lettering artist. I have always been enamoured with letters, alphabets, and writing — both printed and cursive. This interest carried on through art school and university, where I got a broader understanding of fonts, lettering, and typography. The lettering I do now is self-taught, starting around 2009 when I first picked up my first brush pen. I love the character, personality, and authenticity that hand-lettering can offer in a digital world.
HM: Tell us more about the "Toronto the Great" series, and your concept behind it. What was your process while creating it?
CR: "Toronto the Great" acts as a contemporary extension of the nickname, 'Toronto the Good', popularized by former city mayor, William Howland, in 1886. The phrase originally referred to the city’s propensity toward strict Victorian values; Howland himself was "anti-vice, anti-gambling, anti-liquor” (Toronto Star). This neologism, like the work itself, seeks to imbue the past with new energy and optimism. "Toronto the Great" juxtaposes historical public domain photographs and illustrations from the Toronto Archives with original hand-lettering.
HM: Our theme for the 2019/20 season is “Old Meets New.” How do you feel your art fits with this theme?
CR: I think the art for Haus Musik: Café Counterculture is a perfect fit for the the "Toronto the Great" series. The art, like the musical programme, features something old and something new, and adds a new perspective to both.
Custom lettering by Christopher on a treated archive photograph of Yorkville, Toronto, 1960s.
HM: What is your favourite music to listen to when making art? Doesn’t have to be classical!
CR: I like all kinds of music, from saccharine pop, to 90's hip hop, to minimalist classical music (in particular, Philip Glass). Music is pure energy!
HM: What shows or exhibitions are you dying to see? Is there an artist or organization you’d encourage our followers to explore?
CR: I don't have an concert or exhibition tickets in-hand right now. If your followers like to support local artists (like me!), I welcome them to check out the One Of A Kind Show, happening November 20–December 1, 2019 at the Enercare Centre. I will be selling 'Toronto the Great' prints, along with custom prints, made live at the venue.
HM: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
CR: That's a tough one. I would say the best advice has always been to treat each day like it could be your last. Work hard, be kind, and cherish every moment.
Save the dates for the next two Haus Musik concerts which will feature more of Christopher's custom lettering: March 12 + May 7, 2020 at Burdock Music Hall.