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Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Dave Murray and I’m an illustrator from Toronto. My parents are very happy that I’m actually doing what I went to school for. Aside from that, I mostly hang around with my dog. She’s a lab-wolf hound mix. She’s a bit mad at me that I left the house right now… Aside from hanging out with my dog and drawing pictures I probably play too much hockey and that’s about it! It’s not so bad. Plus I’ve got a great wife who puts up with all of that.

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How did you get started in illustration?

I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. I collected comic books, so naturally I wanted to draw all of the super heroes from them. Then I started looking into more fine art and things that peaked my interest to try to figure out how to make a living through art.

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So I went to Sheridan College for illustration. It was a great four years and I made a lot of good friends. I left on good terms with my professors which was great. A few of them threw me some contacts after I graduated, and other than that it’s just been word of mouth or through Angela (his representative ati2i Art inc. an illustration agency).

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How did you become a part of i2i Art Inc.?

I had looked into a few rep agencies figuring that I was young enough that if it didn’t work out there wouldn’t be any big loss, but if it worked out for me then it would be great. They’ve kept me really busy. I still get the jobs that would normally come to me through word of mouth or relationships but they also do a lot of promotional work which gets me more corporate jobs which is pretty cool. Aside from that I like keeping myself busy. I’m doing a few art shows in LA in the next few months. Painting is something I’m getting back into. I used to love painting but due to the speed of working on a computer I found that works for me better.

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Can you explain your creative process?

I’m really influenced by cubist, abstract and angular work so I almost think of my work as building a puzzle – creating pieces to be put together. Which goes over into how I paint now as well. Everything is masked off so I go through a lot of tape. I’m really obsessed with clean lines and clean shapes. Then that texture comes in and helps punch things out. I vary between going kind of crazy with abstraction versus more literal representations of things. With the paintings I’m doing now for the art shows, I’m pushing to see how out there things can get in terms of colour, representation, scale, and things like that. But I’m still trying to keep it recognizable. It’s true with all illustration that it’s an evolution. If you are staying still, then you aren’t getting it.

So everything is built in a pretty clean way at first before I throw in the textures. It all starts from a drawing in my sketchbook, or even on the computer now, and then worked up in pretty rough colours. Then everything just falls into place. It’s all very fluid to me now.

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What’s your favourite subject matter?

Thing’s from pop culture – music, movies, TV shows – form so much of what I do. I feel like it’s part of my job to keep up with it to stay relevant. I’m kind of obsessed with that kind of stuff so it lodges itself in my brain and then I go from there. Aside from that, I like architecture.

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Is there anyone you’d like to work or collaborate with?

Collaboration is a weird thing. I really enjoy the singular vision that I get working how I do. I have collaborated with my friends before but I don’t quite think our styles jive well. A lot of my friends’ art tends to be more fluid and organic, where mines more mechanical. So it’s hard to say. I don’t really think about collaboration, but I think that may be a symptom of me working by myself a lot (and talking to my dog all day). I enjoy the isolation. It’s nice to be able to turn off that part of the brain where you have to worry about planning and basically any variables. That being said, you never know what’s going to happen. I enjoy my friends and I enjoy their artwork, so if anything came up I’d probably go for it!

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What’s your favourite spot in Toronto?

A few years back I did a mapping project which got me to go to a lot of places that I don’t think I would have ever gone to which was cool. I’ve been going to the island a lot lately – it’s nice, especially if you go onto the other side where you can’t really see the city anymore. It’s like a weird vacation spot. I like Toronto in general, it’s a nice place to live.

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What’s your favourite project you’ve recently worked on? 

The menu was really fun! I’m really happy with how it turned out, the front piece especially. I kind of knew when I did the initial sketch of it. I was like ouuu this feels really good.

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Aside from that I’m excited about the painting I’m working on now for an art show called Gallery 1988. They’re the world’s first pop culture art gallery. I’m participating in their 10th annual Crazy 4 Cult show. So you pick a cult movie and make an art piece for it. I’m doing a painting based on the movie Paris Texas. It’s sad and heartbreaking so it’s been nice to tackle that subject. A lot of what I do has a certain upbeat quality to it, so I’m really looking forward to this one. Plus, it’s an actual painting! It’s nice getting my hands dirty.

When I paint now it’s a combination of acrylic paint and spray paint to replicate the texture that I do on the computer. So my hands just become a mess.

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What’s your studio space like?

It’s a little room where I have a desk, an easel, a big flat file where I keep prints and everything like that. It’s typically very messy, but I’ve been trying. I’ve gotten it to a pretty good place over the past few days.

I had an art show around this time last year that I was doing a painting for – I had mountains of masking tape. I’d finish painting at 4am and I’d just sneak around these piles of tape to get to bed. The nice thing is that masking tape is really easy to clean up! It picks up everything, it’s sticky and fun!

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Tell us a bit about your tattoos. 

The anchor was my first one, which I designed. And this hand I also did. I got a really good friend to tattoo it on me. I’ve had a say in some of them… but I’ve gotten to a point where I let the tattoo artist do what they do.

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Here’s the final artwork for our current Fall 2016 Menu cover:

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And the Bill Cards

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Check out more of Dave Murray’s work here:

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