The Art Side of Liberty Village

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Newcomers to the four-one-six can quickly point out the CN Tower, The Rogers Centre, and maybe even the Toronto Islands but it’s the locals that know about Toronto’s burgeoning back alley street art scene. Rick Mercer may have helped bring the spotlight to Graffiti Alley in his political rants on The Mercer Report, but the colourful walls of Toronto speak for themselves.

With its factories and warehouses, Liberty Village was once a mecca for artists and today is home to many successful art and design agencies. There’s a growing number of murals throughout the village which have helped honour its industrial history, entrepreneurial culture, and foster a sense of community.

On the wall of Liberty Street Cyclery, there’s the girl and her cat which was generously funded anonymously, painted by Emmanuel Jarus and Jason Pinney.

Cat: Woman and Cat by Emmanuel Jarus and Jason Pinney.

The Carpet Factory reached out to Victor Fraser for a second art installation of his public sidewalk art.

Sidewalk art by Victor Fraser

And the Hustle sign in the Liberty Market Building by artist Ben Johnston. The 416 Mag spoke to Ben Johnston to learn a little about his background and his inspiration behind his Liberty Village piece.

Ben was born in Canada and raised in South Africa which provided a distinct sense of influence to his work. He finds inspiration from small cultural nuances to societal differences that he encounters throughout his travels. Featured in numerous magazines and online publications worldwide, Ben’s work has won multiple design awards including Communication Arts for custom lettering, Print Mag award for typographic murals and also numerous TDC awards.

416 Mag: What’s the story behind the Liberty Village “Hustle” sign?

BJ: The idea behind the murals at Liberty Market was to create artworks that reflect the vibrancy, industrial history, and entrepreneurial culture of Liberty Village. Those murals are strong statement pieces that capture the essence of the work hard, live well community.


416 Mag: How would you describe the mural scene in Toronto compared to the rest of the world?

BJ: Toronto seems to be booming at the moment, and the art scene is going along with it. There are so many great artists here doing big things, so I feel like a lot of exciting things are going to be happening moving forward. I feel like the quality of art and design here is on par with anywhere else in the world right now.

416 Mag: Name your favourite Canadian artists who inspire you.

BJ: There are so many amazing designers and artists in Toronto at the moment, so it would be tough to name them all, but a few of my favourites are Trevor Wheatley, Ness Lee, Kathryn Macnaughton, Paul Jackson, Hate Copy and Lauren Pirie who I just finished collaborating with on a mural.

416 Mag: Where would be a dream area/wall, for you, for a mural?

BJ: I want to start scaling my pieces up in size to the side of buildings and apartment blocks, so I’ve been scouting potential walls across the city, but those might have to wait until the spring. I’m currently working on a few new collaborations coming up in the fall all around the west end, so I’m pretty excited about those!

Johnston’s murals are well known across the city and are Instagram favourites of the 6ix. Follow Johnston on Instagram to find out where his new pieces will pop up next!


Kelty Campbell

Kelty is a marketing guru and glass half full type of gal. When she’s not at work, you'll find Kelty on her yoga mat or lacing up to reach a new personal best running. Passionate about people, health & wellness, and checking off her Toronto taco bucket list. Kelty is proud to call the 416 home and loves all things Canadiana.