Toronto Artist Mixes Art and Business on a Palette of Social Commentary
Toronto painter Tony Taylor is a successful artist and entrepreneur who has a flair for turning the ridiculous into the sublime.
An art college graduate who worked in a studio before branching out on his own, he portrays political and corporate leaders as animals rather than people. This “reflects a truer sense of their character,” Tony says, adding that he has focused on this type of work for several years now. “I did a few, then from 2010 and on I committed to the theme. I thought there is enough I can work with and stick with – I wanted to make images that are relevant to the current times and it developed naturally that way.”
Many of Tony’s subjects remain anonymous, but they are painted in settings such as a G8 summit. One of Tony’s G8 paintings, titled “We're Strongly Committed to Reporting Transparently,” was featured on the cover of The Handbook of Neoliberalism, published in 2016 by Routledge International.
Other subjects are more visible – members of the Royal family are among his most popular works and politicians aren’t far behind. He has portrayed U.S. President-elect Donald Trump as a shark and former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a raccoon. “I’m trying to tackle different subjects in politics by doing some local and some global-related pieces,” Tony explains.
Getting work in front of the public is essential for any artist, not only for recognition but also for the opportunity to sell it to fans and collectors. Yet while there is an inevitable business side, art is a labour of love for those who create.
“That’s a tough one. Money or business isn’t what all art is about – not every piece is about making money. I started out making pieces that I like. Then other people started to like them, so it was a natural progression for me,” Tony explains. “You need to be consistent and grow your style – sometimes it takes years or it can happen in a couple of months over a body of work.”
With art said to be in the eye of the beholder, Tony has quickly gained a public reputation as both a painter of considerable talent and a social commentator. By using animals in place of people, he is showing what it would be like if we saw his subjects for their more carnal instincts and characteristics instead of elevating them to the level of local and global celebrities. In doing so, Tony has tapped into a unique market.
And the response to his work?
“It’s usually laughter first. Then they click into what it is and who it’s about, and become more interested in the thought process behind it,” Tony says.
Tony has won several awards for his paintings, which he displays and sells at various markets and events. The Artist Project, which has a gallery atmosphere and takes place in February at Toronto’s Exhibition Grounds, is at the top of his list. He also highly values the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, run in the summer at Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto. Both are juried events.
When an art lover wants to buy a painting, Tony’s sales are completed quickly and efficiently thanks to DreamPayments.
“It’s very convenient for everybody that doesn’t want to carry around cash,” says Tony. “I was asked for debit a lot before I got it and that was one of my main reasons for getting Dream Payments. If someone is out for a walk, then they stumble upon an art show and they’ve brought along their debit card to buy coffees, they can also get a piece of art.”
On top of being convenient, Tony says Dream Payments adds legitimacy to his business.
“It gives customers trust because debit is a legitimate and popular form of payment. Having a device that you can tap is helpful and people are impressed with the technology. They are very happy to have that convenience.”