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#CareerGoals: Fine Artist, Illustrator and Toy Designer Gary Taxali

Gary Taxali is a Toronto-based acclaimed contemporary artist and illustrator known for his retro vintage pop art style rooted in award winning illustration background.

Gary Taxali was born in Chandigarh, India and raised in Toronto. As a graduate of The Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD), Taxali has had a passion for art his entire life. Using a variety of techniques that include drawing, ink, silk screening and other mixed media, his impressive (and extensive) resume is filled with exhibits in many galleries and museums including The Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), the Jonathan LeVine Gallery (New York), MondoPOP Gallery (Sydney) and The Andy Warhol Museum – to name a few.

Gary has also worked with many clients and big name brands such as Sony, Warner Brothers, Converse, Nintendo, Time, Rolling Stone, you name it. On top of it, Taxali created his own Toy company, Chump Inc. As an artist who believes ideas come from your essence and not your mind – Gary meditates daily, believing when he actively shuts down his mind is when he has the best channel to be a conduit for creative ideas.

We had a chance to sit down with Taxali and learn a little about finding a unique voice and what it takes to be a successful artist and Illustrator in today’s world.

What does it mean to be an artist and illustrator?
To be an artist and illustrator entails a lot of work. There are a lot of behind the scenes, it’s not just the mere construction of a picture but the concept that I bring to the pictures that I make.

Where do you find inspiration? Who do you look up to?
I got into art because I always loved to draw and paint from a very early age. I’ve always looked up to Andy Warhol because he not only created beautiful art but he set the stage for artists to individualistically express pop culture in their own way. I think in a way, Andy almost create a school of thought that is so intrinsic with so many artists.

What is a key moment in your professional career that you knew you had made it?
A moment that happened for me that I felt like I had arrived in the art world is when I just graduated from art school and did a billboard for Levis that was on the corner of Yonge and Bloor. I looked at the billboard and realized that this was pretty cool, the work I had done was up for everyone to see. That’s when I really felt that I had something to say.

What are some of the cool experiences you’ve had?
One of the fun things I get to do as an artist and illustrator is travel. The great thing about my job is that there are so many venues and opportunities such as gallery exhibitions, as well as institutions of art clubs that will invite me from all over the world to come and speak. I have been lucky enough to travel all over Europe. I was in Asia a few times. I even got to go back to India, my home country, to teach a two-week workshop to students at the National Institute of Design.

What personality traits do you have that make you successful in this career?
I am driven, ambitious and a little bit obsessive, so I like to make sure a picture looks good and is done right. I would also say I am very inquisitive and I think it’s really important for an artist to be aware and look around and see what is happening in the world and be able to comment on it visually.

What are three tips you would give a young artist?

1. Practice your craft every single day – whether that happens to be drawing, painting or sculpting.

2. Focus on aiming to have a personal voice.

3. Foster community and learn from successful artists, as well as from emerging artists.

How has your career fed your overall notable life goals?
As an artist, I used to always see myself as someone who would just show in galleries, however, my career goal was always to have an aesthetic visual voice that would transcend mediums and boundaries for where art and design could land. I think it is important for an artist to not label themselves in their careers and instead, let the world show you opportunities. One of the best things I have ever heard, “flip over and float” – even in your own career, sometimes it’s important to not resist the tide and go where things take you and to be as adventurous and excited as you were when you were 4 years old and looked at the world. As an artist I don’t think I have reached a point where I have transcended my career, I have only made one or two steps, in fact, I think it’s dangerous to think I have done it all. I feel more excited about the possibilities and about where I can take my work as opposed to what I have done in the past.

Coming up, Taxali has a busy year working on a solo show for 2019, as well as his work for the United Nations World Food Day Campaign. Representing North America, Taxali was selected as one of 6 artists all over the globe to create artwork for awareness about the growing crisis of world hunger.

You can check out Gary Taxali’s work on his website, as well as connect with him on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Audrey Lee