During the pandemic, Carolyn Graziani spent her time venturing to different areas to walk her dog, Mini. “I was inspired by all the great places and diversity we have here in Toronto,” she says. Graziani, an art director who has worked for CityTV and Harlequin, decided to capture the unique vibes of the city in a series of neighborhood-themed digital illustrations.
He started in 2020 with his own decking grounds in North Toronto and has since designed more than 75 Toronto ‘hoods, from Mimico to Yorkville and from Danforth to the Distillery District. After getting a few dozen pieces, she called Locales Design and started selling them in 2021. “It kept me busy at a time when there wasn’t much to do,” she says. Illustrations are available in framed and unframed prints in various sizes and on papers and canvas bags.
(Check out another local artist, Natalie Czerwinski, who paints the beating heart of the city.)
Graziani’s drawings are often inspired by an emblematic image that has stuck in her mind. For her, The Beach is the Leuty Lighthouse, while Humber Bay is the white arch bridge and Kensington Market are her vintage shops inside former workers’ homes. The majestic Royal York Hotel is iconic enough to deserve to appear in one of its three overall Toronto projects. (The other two are Nathan Phillips Square and the skyline seen from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.) “I don’t have people in my projects,” he says, “partly because the streets were pretty quiet when I started, but also because the locations speak for themselves. Sunglasses”.
The four-legged friends of Toronto
Some inspirations were more personal, like the fox that kept popping up halfway to Leaside. She is just one of the many creatures that populate his work. “I love animals, so I have an animal in almost any model,” she says. “So obviously I had to do Trinity Bellwoods to get the elusive white squirrel in.” (His famous High Park film is played by the cute lama who was a valuable part of Graziani’s visits with his son when he was growing up.)
He has also done outdoor commercials such as Scarborough Bluffs and the Toronto Islands. Her best-sellers seem to embrace the city, whether it’s her rendering of Roncesvalles or her drawing of Riverdale. Beach-themed photos are among Graziani’s personal favorites: she had her first date with her husband at the beach, and Sunnyside is special as her late grandmother often went there when she was dating her grandfather. “It’s not always the most obvious scene I present,” she says, “but customers like it, because it’s also an element or place (it might be special) that clicks on them.”
To the country
Graziani began capturing the countryside loved by many Torontonians, including Muskoka and Kawartha, and began doing custom work for other areas outside the GTA. But she will always have time to celebrate the places closest to home and keeps a list of neighborhoods yet to be drawn.
“I’d love to do Baldwin Village. I’ve eaten there a lot over the years and it’s such a quaint place, ”she says. “Also on my list is Dufferin Grove, a great neighborhood with a beautiful park and farmer’s market. And Little India too, as there are some really lively facades that will be fun.
SPECIAL FOR THE STAR