Vintage video game characters have long been favourite muses of creative graffiti artists, and they’ve begun to infiltrate our 3-D world in some striking ways, courtesy of Toronto animator Aiden Glynn. For about a year, Glynn has been placing pixelated art projects—short lived though they may be—into real-world, urban locations.
1. Donkey Kong Barrel
Location: The Fox Restaurant, 35 Bay St.
Structure: A decorative old-fashioned beer keg.
Inspiration: Glynn saw the barrel, and it kicked off his video game theme about a year ago. “I had done other pieces of street art, but I was trying to think outside the box.”
Risk of getting caught: High. It was the middle of rush hour near Union Station. “[My graffitti is] generally on the same route I take to work…. I get there and my co-worker says, ‘Oh, I saw your new one.’”
Is it still there?: No. “They’ve since painted the barrels red,” Glynn says. But he adds: “I don’t think they noticed [at first]. It was up for a couple of weeks.”
Location: Exhibition GO Station stairwell.
Structure: Decorative tile along the stairwell railing.
Inspiration: “I had the idea of a ramp, and you know, stairs are kind of like a ramp. I also like to do slightly obscure games, because if you get it, it will bring back that nostalgia.”
Risk of getting caught: High. “I did the Pac-Man one, then went downstairs and did the Excitebike. There were cameras facing me as I did it, so I tried to do it quickly.”
Is it still there?: No.
Location: Appleby Line and Upper Middle Road, Burlington.
Structure: Bell phone box.
Inspiration: “My brother is a little younger than me, and he was super Pokémon–obsessed. I remember some of those characters, and that one just came to me when I saw that box.”
Risk of getting caught: Low. It was a Sunday afternoon, about 20 below zero. “It was so cold. No one was really around.”
Is it still there?: He thinks so.
Location: Service door at the southwest corner of Bay and Harbour.
Structure: A utility box.
Inspiration: Trolls on Glynn’s blog saw a previous image where he Photoshopped a Pikachu tail on a light post, then accused all his work of being digitally created. Glynn wanted to prove them wrong.
Risk of getting caught: Low. Glynn says the more work he does, the better he becomes at doing it under the radar. “I’ve had people stop and watch, but no guards have chased me away yet.”
Is it still there?: Yes, when he checked last Wednesday.
Location: Exhibition GO train station.
Structure: Glass stairwell enclosure.
Inspiration: “I always knew Pac-Man would be good, as long as I could do it right…. So when I got off the train and I saw these orange circles, I thought, ‘That’s it.’” (The circles are visual markers to ensure that inattentive pedestrians don’t smack into the glass.)
Risk of getting caught: Medium. “There are always people looking. It’s not like a graffiti artist who will bomb at midnight when no one’s around. But I’ve kind of got it down: wait until no one’s directly looking at me, then do it really quick. And then I walk away from it, and then come back to it and take pictures.”
Is it still there?: No. “They have security guards and they have maintenance crews and cleaning crews. Pac-Man was a big cardboard cutout, so I knew it wouldn’t last long.”