When Colin White moved to Ottawa in 2006 after completing his Master’s in Typo/Graphic Studies abroad, he began freelancing as an illustrator and designer. To familiarize himself with his new surroundings, he began taking walks around his neighbourhood, sketching buildings that he found aesthetically appealing and recording interesting interactions in a series of short comic strips. These sketches and strips turned into Cool Drawing, Dude, a short book of comix which he self-published.
When people saw his work, they told him he should sell his illustrations as prints and begin taking commissions. From there, Colin began tabling at local arts and craft fairs and was hired to draw people’s homes as a result of advertising on hydro poles and hand delivering flyers.
Over the years, Colin has drawn hundreds of buildings in Ottawa. His drawings have produced several series of thematic work and the stories of encounters along the way became inspiration for more self-published comixs. Colin has held a few solo shows of his work, including his Confectionaries and Gigafauna series, and has participated in numerous group shows. In 2014, Confectionaries was shown at the Ottawa Art Gallery.
Particularly interested in the way a city’s landscape evolves, Colin has lead several Jane’s Walks of the buildings he has drawn, highlighting how they’ve changed over the course of his years here. This year, he was commissioned by Fido, with a number of artists across the country, to help create a mobile music video. For this project, Colin produced a series of work showcasing buildings around the city, stapling prints to telephone poles to document the changes in the urban environment since the illustrations had first been made.
This past summer, Colin organised a weekly meeting of local artists who met in alleyways across the city to sketch and make art. The result of these encounters was a group show called Forgotten Spaces, as part of this year’s Chinatown Remixed. The show presented the group’s sketches and photographs, plastered on a series of doors taken from neighbourhood streets, aptly displayed in a laneway in Chinatown.
Colin has also been working on some new series of his own, including one of sheds found on his walks about the city, as well as one on vacant/abandoned buildings he comes across in his travels. He plans to exhibit both in the near future.
For Colin, his work is a means of documenting the evolution of our cities and the interaction between people and their environment. Armed with his sketchbook and a keen eye, he succeeds at capturing familiar spaces in a new light. Thankfully for Colin, with our cities in a state of continuous development, there will never be a shortage of inspiration from which to draw.