Saturday, November 1, 2014Light Snow 1°C
Arts

Chasing rabbits (a photo essay)

Posted by Staff / August 10, 2011

Poser Graffiti TorontoThose who've spent time in downtown Toronto over the last few months might very well have come across one or two cartoonish-looking rabbit characters around town. They can be found on buildings along main streets, on garages and other structures hidden away in back alleys. There's even one that can be observed from the GO train as one travels out of Union Station.

The rabbit has many moods: sometimes it smiles, sometimes it laughs — while at others his rather large and fearsome teeth are bared in a somewhat menacing manner. No matter what expression it wears, the ubiquitous rabbit always gives me a quick smile as I pass through the visual noise that tends to dominate the cityscape.

So I set out to capture as many examples of these pieces as I could find, and along the way the artist behind the rabbit (known as "Poser") told me a little bit about his work.

Poser Graffiti RabbitsHow long have you been painting and who were some of your earlier influences?

I first picked up a can back in late 2004 and spent the next year tagging anything and everything I could in my neighborhood [which was in Ottawa at the time]. Unfortunately I didn't know too much about being discreet about I managed to get caught within a couple months. Luckily the police weren't involved. But my parents certainly didn't let it slide so after that blew over I took a break, mostly sketching, and probably only painting enough walls to count on my two hands till late 2006, when I started back in as Poser.

From there I painted around my neighborhood for the next year, getting comfortable with the word and in 2008 I started to travel downtown Ottawa to paint. To put it lightly, there was quite a bit of skepticism from within the community, so I had nearly every piece I painted crossed over until later in 2009 or so, but I wouldn't change a thing and it taught me a lot. 2009 and 2010 were great years. I managed to enjoy some success with the opportunity to paint with some of my early idols, Sberk, Dems, Daser, Net, Red5, and Cab.

PoserThere's one really amazing piece in Graffiti Alley that isn't one of your signature rabbits. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

The Queen Street piece was done back in October 2010 for a graffiti jam that Globe organized. It was my first jam I had ever done in Toronto, and it was a great experience to paint alongside the people that inspired me as I grew up. It was loosely based off of a sketch I did in response to a challenge to try different styles, but I want to revisit it. I think I simplified it too much.

You've certainly been busy around Toronto this year. Sometimes it feels like I bump into a new piece every time I turn a corner in some neighbourhoods.

This year I've had the luck of having the Flickr community's support, on my own page and through a page that a group of photographers created to document my work around town. This is as inspiring as it is exciting... it's great to see the city take notice, especially in the middle of the new anti-graffiti program. To everyone that contributes, thanks for everything.

Photos

Poser Rabbits

Poser Graffiti Toronto

Poser Graffiti Toronto

Street Art Toronto

Street Art Toronto

Full set slideshow

For more of Poser's work, check out the Flickr Group here.

Photos and interview by Scott Snider

Discussion

50 Comments

simple questions / August 10, 2011 at 09:43 am
user-pic
Hey Poser -

1 How many of these did you ask permission of the property owner?

2 Have you ever asked for permission from a property owner before painting on their property?

3 What is your address? I would like to come paint something on your house.
bob replying to a comment from simple questions / August 10, 2011 at 09:50 am
user-pic
haha ask permission??? funny guy. you don't earn street cred by asking permission.
"Artist" / August 10, 2011 at 10:08 am
user-pic
Is it just me or are a bunch of these painted over other "art"?

What happened to that being a big no no?
shameblogto / August 10, 2011 at 10:12 am
user-pic
this is shameful blogto! glorify graffiti and crime on a site that should be promoting toronto the good. where is your office so can tag red swastikas all over it! maybe you can blog that tomorrow.
simple questions replying to a comment from bob / August 10, 2011 at 10:24 am
user-pic
Street Cred - yeah - I forgot how life fulfilling it is to have the respect of other jobless/gutless 19 year olds.
Alex / August 10, 2011 at 10:25 am
user-pic
Meh... don't listen to all of these schmucks. I love those rabbits. Keep up the good work, Poser! This is what keeps this city alive.
quoiquoi / August 10, 2011 at 10:45 am
user-pic
The clown ROB FORD wants this removed pronto!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKfX9j50AKc
J.Rai / August 10, 2011 at 10:54 am
user-pic
Yay bunnies!
Poopsdawg / August 10, 2011 at 10:55 am
user-pic
http://i.imgur.com/rA6gI.jpg
namerequired replying to a comment from shameblogto / August 10, 2011 at 10:59 am
user-pic
I'm not sure swastikas are on the same level as bunnies... Just a thought.
Alison / August 10, 2011 at 11:01 am
user-pic
I get to see three of these rabbits on my way in every day painted under a bridge as the GO train pulls into Union.. makes me smile!
SW / August 10, 2011 at 11:16 am
user-pic
I don't support painting on residential property, pending context really, but these bunnies look great and bring a lot of colour to grey concrete walls.
iloveto / August 10, 2011 at 11:27 am
user-pic
dont listen to these OLD and UNHAPPY fools poser... just because they have a shitty job they have to attend every day and have kids who probably hate them because they cant relate to them! dont let them discourage you.. these tight ass blog t.o. haters have nothing to do. when i signed onto the sight and seen 2 graffiti painted rabbits i clicked on it because i wanted to see the cool graffiti ... so this is a question for you uptight losers who feel the need to comment.. why did you click on this article if you dont like graffiti?? what did you think would be on here... you rob ford loving fruitcakes! hahaha
iloveto / August 10, 2011 at 11:28 am
user-pic
site.. not sight!

p.s. the guy is not taging on houses and churches and school hes taging on walls that are covered with crap and tags already...
simple questions replying to a comment from iloveto / August 10, 2011 at 11:31 am
user-pic
iloveto

Thanks for correcting your spelling error.

Now if you could correct the atrocious grammar in your post that'd be great!
iloveto / August 10, 2011 at 11:40 am
user-pic
now... i mean no... fawk yu
simple questions replying to a comment from iloveto / August 10, 2011 at 11:48 am
user-pic
Maybe you could answer this:

Does graffiti become less worthy if it's painted with permission?

Or does it only retain its value with the fawk you it says to people who own the property it defaces?
lowrez / August 10, 2011 at 11:52 am
user-pic
Great article! Keep it up, Poser!
iloveto / August 10, 2011 at 12:00 pm
user-pic
no it does not, it has the same value BUT alot of the graffiti in toronto is with permission.. and actually 7 of 10 of the poser rabbits are on walls with permission. my buddy is a graffiti artist and he has been hired by many big companies such as bacardi, samsung and mattel.. and many more all because they want that "graffiti style"" artwork in their ad campaigns! thats about 1500.00 a job for about 6 hours work. so hate on graffiti all you want but there is a huge community that respects this culture and a smaller community that doesnt, but the ones that dont are the ones who are sitting at home on the computer . because thats your whole life.
iloveiloveto / August 10, 2011 at 12:54 pm
user-pic
Where can I read more from you, iloveto? It is apparent you know all. I need to know half of what you do just to make my life even close to worthy. Please don't hold out on me(us. Thanks
simple questions / August 10, 2011 at 01:19 pm
user-pic
Only 1500 bucks for a mural or artwork for a print ad?

Your buddy is an idiot.
norespect4property / August 10, 2011 at 01:21 pm
user-pic
i will tag the hood of your car and your house next! will that be a swastika in red or black? editors of blogto fail to realize that somebody is working hard to pay the mortgage on those properties.
blogto / August 10, 2011 at 01:34 pm
user-pic
Blogto doesn't care about the rights of the private property holder, just as long as the art is pretty. If i ever caught someone doing this to my property i would introduce them to my baseball bat.
truefriction replying to a comment from norespect4property / August 10, 2011 at 01:36 pm
user-pic
most of these pieces were done with permission. the rest were done on property that has been left to decay by the owners. none of it has been done on residential propert.

and btw - making nazi references is an automatic fail. read a book and come up with an analogy which isn't extemely hyperbolic, more accurate, and that doesn't trivialize the deaths of my ancestors.
ian / August 10, 2011 at 01:44 pm
user-pic
I wasn't aware public spaces like bridges require Toronto residents to pay mortgages. This is well done art displayed in areas that otherwise would be plain and lifeless. When I think Toronto the good I think an alley way or roof top colorfully and skillfully painted, not blank walls and corporate advertisements. Poser has talent and shares it with everyone for free.

I would also LOVE for someone as awesome as Poser to paint my car for free as a nice surprise.
Dizzy / August 10, 2011 at 02:24 pm
user-pic
Wow... those pics above don't look like bridges or public space but look like someones business or garage (yes, a private residential garage) - they don't look like they were abandoned or left to rot. I have no issues if somebody asks permission to paint something on private property but stop trying to make it look like permission was given for all of his work because I highly doubt it.

There is nothing better than coming into work and finding some other little shit has painted the wall of the business I work at and my boss having to paint it for the 20th time in the past 2 years. We're not an abandoned building nor do we look like it either. This is plain and simple lack of respect for private property.
ian / August 10, 2011 at 02:33 pm
user-pic
I highly doubt if Poser were to draw one of his bunnys on the wall of business, be it the alley way behind it or on the side, would business go down.
gr1 / August 10, 2011 at 03:53 pm
user-pic
WAHHH MY PROPERTY.

you're going to die and nature is going to eat all your wordly possessions.

enjoy the style.
simple questions replying to a comment from ian / August 10, 2011 at 04:19 pm
user-pic
"I highly doubt if Poser were to draw one of his bunnys on the wall of business, be it the alley way behind it or on the side, would business go down."

That is not the point.

The point is the wall doesn't belong to Poser.

gr1 / August 10, 2011 at 04:28 pm
user-pic
i hope someone tags the fucking moon with a huge paint rover. who owns that? you can't explain that.
simple question replying to a comment from gr1 / August 10, 2011 at 04:44 pm
user-pic
If I knew what a Paint rover was, I would explain.

I do, however know who owns buildings and walls that Poser defaced.

And I do know that you wouldn't want me to walk up behind you and spray paint the back of your jacket without your permission. (I say jacket because I highly doubt you own any property)

But hey - if by some crazy unlikely one in a million chance you do own property, feel free to post your address here so I can come over and paint some crap on it.
gr1 / August 10, 2011 at 08:53 pm
user-pic
im too busy moving the houses off my properties to make room for big, red, generic apartments.

us property owners are too busy to pause for such trivial things as giving out addresses.
mang / August 11, 2011 at 09:02 pm
user-pic
my love for poser is beyond words
dmz / August 13, 2011 at 11:46 pm
user-pic
Here's my perfect-world completely unattainable solution, for your potential entertainment:

- designate certain areas across the whole city where graffiti can be painted at will; multiple copies of graffiti alley. use abandoned/derelict buildings, grey alleyways in middle-class neighborhoods, etc. to fuel this

- beyond those areas, restrict it forcefully. like some of you I love good graffiti, and like all of you I hate bad graffiti. grant licenses to skilled artists who can post outside those areas, but only if they have permission from the property owner. encourage the success of these artists.

- double the punishment for whoever breaks those simple rules, to cut down on the needless tagging of preschool-minded dropout failures (e.g Queen+Bathurst)

I know it's poorly reasoned and unintelligent, but it would at least placate a lot of people. Especially me.
edward gooding / August 20, 2011 at 11:15 am
user-pic
i was wondering if some one could help me get in contact with daser
jet / August 23, 2011 at 01:19 pm
user-pic
dmz has it right. Read his/her post Rob "Gravy train" Ford lovers.
Andy replying to a comment from simple questions / September 14, 2011 at 09:58 pm
user-pic
Haha, I doubt Poser would have a problem with you painting his property.
Alouette / March 24, 2012 at 01:30 pm
user-pic
I used one of your rabbit pieces as inspiration for my final collection in my school's fashion show; keep up the good work Poser! You're my idol :D
betty shabazz / December 9, 2012 at 09:53 pm
user-pic
As of Sunday December 9, 2012, Poser is languishing in jail in Toronto. He has been there for the past 72 hours.He is facing over 200 charges. Under Section 430 (4), anyone who commits mischief in relation to property is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years. For all you "street artists" out there the risks might not be worth it. Poser has learned the hard way. It might better to keep your art to the studio and leave it off public and private property. Once Poser is convicted (even if he does not do time in prison) he will be subjected to strict curfew conditions, being banned from owning paint (a real setback for an artist) and he will be unable to enter the US without a waiver for the rest of his life. We probably won't be seeing a whole lot of new work from Poser in the next little while. For the rest of you street artists it is probably best not to have your work posted online. The police review these sites regularly and keep files on you all. Each tag counts as one charge. As I write this Poser's list keeps growing thanks to all of you who helped document his work. That is why he was not released within 24 hours of his arrest.
Disappointed. / December 15, 2012 at 04:27 am
user-pic
"Betty"
Please do not spread misinformation regarding that mischief case and who they think is Poser. It is not wise to go about making assumptions and outrageous exaggerations, you may be very wrong. According to the little info released, less than a tenth of those charges have been laid and we're talking about an artist that is valued by this city, and those put in place to determine what is or isn't graffiti around town, as a beautifier rather than a vandal. Jail for seventy two hours already seems a bit much much for painting a wall, even tens of thousands.
This same 'vandal' painted a beautiful mural as part of an anti-bullying campaign for my daughter's school this past year, I for one very much appreciate his work. He's evidently still growing and learning. I can assure you there are much more important things in our community that we should be focusing on.
I understand that graffiti can be a nuisance and a headache, especially downtown, but it isn't an excuse to vindictively ruin someone's life. I'd just like to think there are better ways to make amends.
I hope he is doing well, if he is still in jail then he's in my prayers, that's no place for a kid on mischief charges.
This world...
Me / December 15, 2012 at 11:39 am
user-pic
Ah yes, more photos of people trying to make Toronto look like a ghetto. Yay.
Malcom X / December 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm
user-pic
So Poser has been arrested? Thanks for connecting the dots for us all.
HAHA / December 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm
user-pic
Good news indeed.
Soon. / December 17, 2012 at 05:43 pm
user-pic
Keep your eyes peeled for details, Poser has a big gallery show coming this spring.
Until then, love you all, thanks for everything!
Malcom X / December 19, 2012 at 11:05 pm
user-pic
Yeah his show will be at his court hearing and his "work" will be exhibits! Come see that show for free.
Hope you don't mind eating those words / January 25, 2013 at 09:59 pm
user-pic
Betty, Malcolm X,
Please, keep talking. Anything else you'd like to say?
EAT YOUR WORDS / January 25, 2013 at 10:47 pm
user-pic
Malcom X, Betty,

Please continue, we'd love to hear what you have all accomplished!
Keep talking, every word will dig your hole that much deeper when the news comes out :)

Let this be a lesson in boasting.
Woops / January 25, 2013 at 10:50 pm
user-pic
Redundant second post is redundant
Editing this on mobile is tricky, please ignore one or the other.
theatre lights / June 26, 2013 at 10:04 am
user-pic
I'm not sure where you're getting your info, but great topic.
I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more.
Thanks for fantastic information I was looking for this info for my mission.
Margaret Robinson / July 18, 2014 at 08:10 am
user-pic
I enjoy these rabbits very much and there are a number of them in my area.

Add a Comment

Other Cities: Montreal