Mysterious messages stencilled all over Toronto sidewalks
It doesn't have to be perfect. It's okay to be different. Be kind to yourself. You are enough.
You might recognize these phrases from... well, everywhere, but most recently from the sidewalks of Toronto (and pictures of said sidewalks on Instagram.)
Someone has been using stencils and spray paint to put lockscreen-worthy messages of self compassion all over the city, and in return, locals have been sharing more photos of their feet.
The frequency, volume and popularity of these shoe-and-quote posts suggests that this street art series isn't a one-off thing.
In the past month, a few dozen pictures of the message "It doesn't have to be perfect" have been tagged in Riverdale park alone.
Curious about who was behind the signs, I did a bit of digital sleuthing and found a Toronto-based visual artist named Kat Singer.
The sidewalk tags, of which there are now more than 300, are part of Singer's "#LoveLettersToMyself" project.
"In October 2016 I made a number of cardboard stencils with phrases that I felt I most needed to hear," reads an artist statement on their website.
"Through the action of repeatedly tagging public surfaces (mostly sidewalks), the phrases on the stencils seeped into my consciousness and began to displace the negative self-talk I habitually engaged in."
Singer says they've been using roughly 18 different stencils of varying sizes to paint their messages, often when travelling through different parts of the city.
"I do it in clusters," they told me by phone. "This weekend I did about seven in one day on Queen Street."
The artist's very popular "it doesn't have to be perfect" stencil is from the first set of four they made while volunteering at Steam Labs.
Another one of the stencils from that set, "be kind to yourself" got warped from being covered in paint so many times. They've since recreated the stencil in a new font, along with some new ones that include the words "love is love" and "all bodies are good bodies.
"All of the phrases I pick are very deliberate," says Singer. "I would never say something like 'you're beautiful' because I don't believe in placing value on a person's appearance."
"I'm against the culture of compulsive positivity, the 'Good Vibes Only' mindset. It's about self compassion, not talking down to people. It's okay not to be okay. It's okay to have a bad day."
Their work is clearly resonating with those lucky enough to stumble upon it, as evidenced by hundreds and hundreds of photos online.
We've seen foot photos in Forest Hill...
Wallace-Emerson... (dogs have feet too!)
And in various other spots around town.
Singer says they continue to produce stencil art on sidewalks, when they aren't busy with other projects.
"When I find people on Instagram posting pictures of my work, usually with their feet, and they say such sweet things..." they said. "I feel like I have to cry. I'll have tears running down my face."
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