Thursday was a very busy, but very exciting day for me. After my last exam for the summer, I rushed over to the ABSOLUT Vodka Art Installation at Bay Station , where I got to meet and interview the very talented Justin Broadbent. He’s such a cool, intelligent, down to earth guy; it’s always good to see someone who followed their dream, didn’t give up and has succeeded and is enjoying the fruits of their hard labour =) He hasn’t limited himself to just one form of art, and has dabbled in just about everything, which is what his piece encourages. You can make anything you want for yourself, for your life happen.
The place looked ABSOLUT-LY amazing! The blue lighting made me feel like I’d entered a different world... an “ABSOLUT” world where opportunities always pop up, and the first thing you see are the words is “Open Your Eyes”. I took tonnes of pictures and even got to meet Justin’s mommy who was so proud of her baby boy! His family, as well as lots of people came through and showed their support for Justin and his incredible work. The best part of the installation for me was how much thought he put into every train cart; the meaning was felt in each one. One cart in particular was adorned with a variety of flowers and there was a shelf with notebooks that read “Follow your heart”, and then a vending machine with handwritten love letters! Justin hand wrote ALL the love letters! He truly is a rising star and heydoyouwishes him success in everything that he does!
Make sure you peep the interview!
Justin and I
The proud mama and her baby boy!
I was loving this red room, with the chandliers, it was so sparkly in here!
So pretty :)
The ABSOLUT Ladies
The Follow Room... beginning of the journey..
All kinds of Vodka... ABSOLUT-LY!!
The ABSOLUT Ladies looking good!
Bella: So how did this whole ABSOLUT Art Installation thing come about?
JB: Well, ABSOLUT Vodka was looking for an artist to do an installation here in Toronto, and I guess they’d heard about me and seen some of my work. So they asked me, and here you go. (Smiles)
Bella: So what inspires you, when it comes to your art?
JB: Everything... wait that’s a little too obvious... I go for a lot of bike rides because I really like looking at things outside, I read a lot... probably too much... nah you could never read too much. It’s a hard question because I really am inspired by everything, and I think that part of this piece is finding a way to express that... it’s about finding inspiration and opportunities in everything around you.
The location of this installation itself is a metaphor because you’re going beneath the surface... being underground, you’re below everyone, and immediately as humans in situations like that, we tend to feel challenged. So that’s when I decided to create this piece, it’s about living how you want to live, and following your heart, doing what makes you happy without worrying about what everyone else is doing or what they think about it. It’s about appreciating and exploring the opportunities that come your way... It’s your heart and you should follow it, make your world an ABSOLUT world.
He goes on to say...
So often art is associated with being selfish...Hang on, have you seen the water droplet on the back wall there? That piece is inspired by a trip I took to India and the droplet became something I drew everywhere because of the work Mother Theresa did in India, and she always talked about the drop in the ocean.
"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop". - Mother Teresa
The droplet is an important part of my life... It can represent a lot of things; for example, take the tension in the droplet, a lot of weight held by something so small and fragile, yet it has so much strength because it can hold that weight... it’s a good metaphor for life...
Bella: I love that you’re so passionate when you talk about you’re art, and it comes out really well in the pieces you create!
JB: (laughs) I don’t know I think that everything can be inspiring, and I just trying to do all my projects the best way possible.
Bella: so you’ve done A LOT of work. How did you decide which pieces you would use to represent the phrase? And what made you decide to do a “green” room (room full of trees) and the “flower power, love themed” room etc?
JB: first of all when they told me the space was underground, automatically what comes to mind is what’s beneath the surface. It’s so easy but it’s very important to not just live life on the surface, you gotta go deep... so immediately I jumped on that. This piece had to be about something that matters, that’s why I was like man when they gave me that phrase I wanted to take the phrase and bring it life. I wanted to convey the message of living beneath the surface, so automatically it was an emotional piece for me. I started looking at that whole introspective, intuition, follow your heart type of theme, and that’s what ended up being the slogan, “follow your heart”. With each cart I got to interpret the slogan differently... the “green” room represents the beginning of the journey; going through the trees represents the doubts and obstacles that come when following your opportunities, but you gotta keep following the path because it’s leading to so, where new, somewhere better.
Bella: Good stuff! So you’re a graphic designer, web designer, CD cover designer, photographer and an artist like you paint and stuff, what don’t you do!
JB: (points and laughs) don’t forget music video director... I do everything (smiles)
Bella: okay so is there any particular form of art that you focus more on?
JB: I find that I’m always playing around when it comes to my art, it’s actually how I work the best because I get really distracted, so this kind of project was perfect for me because there were so many ways I could play with it, it’s like I have Cre-A.D.D (laughs) I vibe off of finding and creating new things.
Bella: so did you have a specific plan on how you were going to do this project?
JB: well a little bit of both it’s not a total plan it’s like, for example, I knew the theme I wanted to go with and then I moved through the space for a while, and I kinda sat in the space for a while and I would just think about what was gonna work...umm...and then slowly things started building on each other, so I didn’t know what would be in the crates, but I knew that I wanted to build a crates similar to the ones they ship art in except this time they’re not ugly, and boring, but beautiful, bright and colourful... they envoke a feeling the minute you step inside.
Bella: So tell me about this music video you directed.
JB: well my friend Chad and I are both from London... well I can’t really say that because I’ve been in Toronto for ten years, damn that’s too long! (Laughs), anyway, so we connected and he asked me to direct the video for one of his songs. So I did a really simple video and his label was super stoked on it. so then they asked me to do the next video and then for that video we got something from Much Music, so after we were nominated for an MMVA, and then everything kinda sky rocketed... and then from that I got to do a video for Metric, and yeah it just kinda kept on rolling in..
Bella: so you’re just kinda getting your hands in everything huh... that’s a good look
JB: yeah (smiles) I think for me this whole thing is about making good things with everything you do, so that’s what I did with this piece... I put feeling into the art, listening to this (points to his heart)... people always respond well to that... it’s genuine, it’s humorous, offers a kinda light heartedness... if there’s no feeling and it’s just art for the sake of being art people won’t really “feel” the work.
Bella: so what’s next for you?
JB: I don’t know I’m definitely going on vacation, I’m gonna go to L.A., and then uh... I think what I really want to do is; I wanna do a music video for one of my favourite bands, The Walkmen, that’s my next venture. They’re kinda like... well their Rock but their kinda like Crooner 60s or something, I really like them... them or like Mayer Hawthorne, if I do these I’ll be so happy! (Laughs)
Bella: So did you choose art or did art choose you?
JB: well in high school I started doing drawings and my art teacher responded really well to them and she told me that I had a special talent and that I shouldn’t give up on it, so I was like ok maybe she’s right, and then I went to NU Media at Ryerson and I got to do more of a mixture of art, so it wasn’t just paint brush ... I liked the idea of taking over a space and creating something... or doing a video, designing a website etc... My art is like a newer form of art
Bella: so it represents eliminating limitations, and not concentrating on one thing but exploring all kinds of different art, in regards to the piece it represents the opportunities... going through the journey and letting these opportunities take you where you want to be
JB: Yeah (smiles)
Bella: okay so tell me about I met the walrus. I wanted to hear about it from the “horse’s mouth?
JB: well uh my best friend in the world, he made that film. Wrote it, directed it, and well he’s an amazing film maker his name is Josh Raskin, and he asked me to do all the branding for it; so like the logo, website, like anytihng that was going out to the media I did, posters things like that. So him and l live together, we’re roommates so it makes sense that we work well together. It was awesome, it got Oscar nominated, Best Animate Short at the AFI Fest, and so many other awards, it's wicked!
There's lots more pics, click here!