falling in sand toronto

This is the Toronto artist making mesmerizing sand art videos

Four years ago, James Sun was a mechanical engineer working at a job he hated. 

Then one day the North York resident saw a video of sand art on the Internet. "I said, oh my god, I want to learn this," says Sun. 

Sun quit his job and flew back to Hebei, China, where he's originally from. Over the course of a month, he learned the art of creating 2D and 3D images using only coloured sand from three different teachers.

The 34-year-old a.k.a. FallingInSand now has over 3.2 million followers on Tik Tok and nearly 90K on Instagram, where his work—portraits, logos, and animals made up of millions of grains of sand—has gone viral numerous times.

He's worked with a slew of huge clients: the NFL, where he made art for all 32 teams this past Super Bowl, the NHL, to promote the playoffs, the NBA, and Universal Music UK are just a few. 

It's not surprising that Sun gets around 20 to 30 e-mail requests a day for his work. Watching timelapses of Sun painstakingly push around sand in a glass over the course of hours, culminating in a big reveal, is incredibly satisfying. 

Sun has a studio but due to COVID-19 now works from his home at Yonge and Finch. 

He uses around 66 colours of sand to create his art. It takes about 6 to 10 hours to bring portraits to life, like incredible depictions of Kobe Bryant, Kanye West, and Angelina Jolie.

falling in sand toronto

James Sun's sand art has become incredibly popular on social media platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok. Photo via FallingInSand.

Sun's favourite project so far, a promo for the sports YouTube show Dude Perfect, took a whopping 80 hours to make. 

For logos, it's easier, averaging around a couple of hours. He gets a least several hundred dollars for those, and way more for intricate pieces.

FallingInSand's transition to success isn't that shocking, considering social media's ability to propel just about anyone to global fame.

What's most impressive is, aside from the meticulous artistry, the one-track mind that got Sun here in the first place.

"When I was a mechanic, I didn't like the job, I felt like I was wasting my time," says Sun. "This is what I love."

Lead photo by


Latest Videos

Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in Arts

ROM replaces Canadian art gallery with Harry Potter show and people are upset

Toronto comes alive with a night of art for the first Nuit Blanche in three years

Toronto Police shut down a Cinderella carriage right before midnight at Nuit Blanche

This is what Nuit Blanche looked like in Toronto for 2022

Trevor Noah spotted riding bike through downtown Toronto like the cool guy he is

Toronto library is reopening with a beautiful new interior after years of being closed

The top 25 exhibits to see at Nuit Blanche Toronto 2022

Toronto is getting a towering water screen that will rise out of Lake Ontario for Nuit Blanche