Peter Gibson, a Montreal-based artist, began a campaign in 2001 to encourage the city to build more bike lanes. Although intended as an activism effort, the campaign was artistic in nature – it involved huge drawings on black asphalt, plain for everyone to see.
A decade ago, around the same time, Gibson was actually charged with 53 counts of public mischief for drawing on the streets. But he was popular with the public and support poured in from everywhere, helping him to walk free.
Today, the reason for protest may no longer exist, but the art form sure hasn’t died out. Assuming the pseudonym ‘Roadsworth,’ (“where Wordsworth is a poet of words, Roadsworth is a poet of roads”), Gibson has cleverly transformed roads, sidewalks and parking lots into stunning pieces of art.
Roadsworth now introduces several elements of wildlife and humor on to the asphalt canvas – flocks of geese swooping down tree-lined streets and schools of sardines that move with the flow of pedestrian traffic
Perhaps Toronto-born Gibson’s artist mother and musician father contributed to his incredibly creative genes. “I was exposed to art music right from a very young age,” he said. “I decided I wanted to become a musician during my teenage years and eventually attended University in Montreal where I studied Jazz performance. I began doing street art in 2001.” It’s surprising that he doesn’t really have any professional training in art.
“I’m generally drawn to the creation of outdoor installations,” Gibson said of his penchant for street art.” In a detailed description of his process, he said that he first starts by scouting the area chosen for the installation, taking pictures and rough measurements. Then comes the ‘period of conceptualization’, when he considers all the possibilities.
When he’s decided on the idea, he searches for appropriate imagery and uses the inspiration to create a more refined drawing. He makes the drawing to scale on cardboard and cuts it out with an exacto knife or rotary saw, to create a stencil. Once the stencil is complete, it is ready for use on site.
Apart from street art, Roadsworth has also created artwork for exhibitions, art festivals and municipalities, and written a book. You could check out more photographs of his work on his website. I particularly like the one with the giant banana peel on the street. What’s it there for, Godzilla to slip on and destroy half the city?