Blaze Wiradharma picked up his first spray can when he was about 14 years of age.
“I was always interested in visual arts” he admits “but something about graffiti captivated me and really ignited my passion.”
Blaze was born in Markham but grew up primarily in the Collingwood area. He eventually started to long for the big city. “I was lucky enough to get accepted into OCADU for Illustration which turned out to be my ticket to living in downtown Toronto. The graffiti scene in Toronto was a huge attraction for me as well.”
In 2013, while in his third year of university, Blaze received his first commission for a mural. “It was a typography based piece for a waxing and hair removal salon in Toronto. I ended up getting this project through a classified ad on Kijiji” he recounts. “Years later, Kijiji still proves to be a great place to acquire new projects and clients” he adds.
Since then Blaze has done amazing murals in many locations and has become a very much sought-after artist. His old stomping grounds of Collingwood is one of those locations.
“I had done some live painting sessions/murals for the Collingwood Art Crawl years ago” says Blaze. “Those were actually done in the same alleyway as the mural I completed in 2021. The Collingwood Downtown BIA was looking for an artist and they reached out to me.”
I ask if he has a personal favourite. “It’s hard to pick a favourite mural, but If I had to choose I think it would be the mural of my sister in Harriston. My sister has been a huge part of my life for a long time, but that particular summer she was really there for me” he admits. “This was a really special mural for me to paint, and it also led to many other mural opportunities.”
I had Blaze describe the process for implementing a mural project. “There are three major steps with regards to my general process for creating a mural. The first step, which in my opinion is the most important, is the Creative Brief. This is a PDF file that outlines the entire project, contains all the project information, and proposes the artistic direction through a series of images which I call a mood board. This helps communicate what I would like to create, so that my clients are clear about the direction and there isn’t any miscommunication. Once this is approved and signed off on, the design step can begin. Usually this takes a week or two depending on how busy I am. Sometimes there are small revisions to be made. After the design has been approved, I can get to painting it. This is my favourite part of course!”
Materials, paints and colour choices are outlined in the Creative Brief as well. Blaze normally work with spray paint primarily as well as contractor-grade exterior latex.
“Recently I’ve been very lucky and haven’t really had to search for new projects. This year has been my busiest year yet, and 90% of the work I’ve received has been through word of mouth or returning clients. I’m incredibly grateful for all the people I’ve had a chance to create artwork for, and I’m glad they have been happy with my work.”
Increasing demand for his work means that while we were doing our interview Blaze was working on an extension of the Collingwood mural, a live painting event for York Region, and a large mural project in St. Thomas Ontario. And he has others booked for later this year.
The remarkable artist is now also thinking about how he can transition his expressions from walls to canvas.
“In the future, possibly this winter, I plan to work on more paintings. This is something that I’ve been meaning to do, but it’s difficult when I’m so occupied creating murals. I hope to get a studio space and create a new body of personal work. This will be a nice change, as I rarely get to paint exactly what I want for my mural projects. I’m totally fine with this, as I understand that these murals have quite a few parties involved sometimes. That being said, there’s something really nice about saying your own message through your art, and I look forward to being able to do that in the future.”
We truly look forward to seeing more work from Blaze! If you would like to receive a quote from him for a project you should email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can fill out the form on his website www.blazeworksart.com