Saskatoon digital artist featured in Times Square

When Saskatoon illustrator Chris Morin — known for his colourful designs on traffic control boxes in Regina and humorous GIFs such as a giant farting hot dog — last visited New York City, he found Times Square particularly memorable. 

“You’re sort of overwhelmed by billboard after billboard bombarding you with flashing messages, images, colours,” he said. 

Now, Morin has had his own work featured on a large, LED, digitally activated billboard in Times Square as part of a project co-ordinated by ZAZ10TS — an art gallery and ongoing art initiative at 10 Times Square in New York City.

It put out a call for art projects around the idea of being “alone together” during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Never Gonna GIF You Up by Chris Morin. (Photo: Kelsey Fagnou/Courtesy of Nuit Blanche Saskatoon)

When Morin saw ZAZ10TS’s call for artists, he was inspired to find a way to represent the isolation and celebration of the last few months in his distinctive style. 

“Typically the things I like to draw and animate are fun characters — dogs, birds, etc.,” he said. “So the piece has the sort of animal characters that maybe would remind you of something like retro cartoons or video games.”

The piece shows a dance floor, with people celebrating.

“They’re kind of by themselves, maybe social distancing, but because it’s cycling through all these people, I’m hoping that you maybe get the sense that there’s a lot of us out there finding reasons to celebrate things, to dance, to be happy despite what’s going on in the world right now.” 

The billboard went up on June 15, and will be running through July. 

Although Morin won’t get to travel to New York to see his billboard in person, he says just knowing it’s there is good enough. 

“To think of something I’ve done being put into that context, maybe bombarding somebody else, is surreal,” he said. “It’s kind of funny. And it’s inspiring and humbling.”

And while Morin’s work has been shown in galleries and festivals across North America, as well as on his popular Giphy channel and mobile art sticker vending machine, he says being featured on a Times Square billboard is a major moment in his career. 

“Now I’ve got to rethink ‘what’s the next thing?'” he said.

“And obviously it’s not all going to be big things, but whenever I design a GIF and somebody uses it, that’s always pretty gratifying as well. And I’m always appreciative that anyone would share some of my artwork.”

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