Arts·Q&A

A very nice CBC Arts logo by Natalie Very B. to celebrate Women's History Month

Artist Natalie Very B. is all about good vibes. Her next project? Spreading the love through an entire GTA neighbourhood.

The artist is all about good vibes. Her next project? Spreading the love through an entire GTA neighbourhood

Logo design by Natalie Very B. (Natalie Very B.)

Every month, we feature a new take on the CBC Arts logo created by a Canadian artist. Check out our previous logos!

To mark Women's History Month in Canada, we hired Toronto artist Natalie Very B. to create this version of the CBC Arts logo.

"I create bold feminist illustrations that depict body positivity and self-love," writes Natalie, and beyond Instagram, where she posts plenty of cartoon-ified #posivibes, she's known for painting the town red, black and white. Those colours are kind of her signature palette, and Natalie's made murals for local skate parks and lane ways, storefronts and electrical boxes. 

Portrait of the artist and one of her "lady mural friends." (@natalieveryb/Instagram)

"With my art, I hope to reach people who can use my work as a tool for healing and empowerment," she says. And yet, one unidentified crank failed to get the message. It's a story that landed one of her murals in the local news this summer.

In August, a family in Etobicoke commissioned Natalie to paint their garage door. The design is simple: a starry sky with canary-yellow hills in the foreground.

Natalie Very B. painted this garage-door mural for a family in Etobicoke. (South Etobicoke Community Group/Facebook)

But in early September, the family went public with an angry anonymous letter, saying it was dropped in their mailbox after the paint dried. Typed in all-caps and casually racist, the unsigned note accuses the homeowners of bringing down property values, making the "entire neighbourhood look like a low income ghetto." And after posting it to a community Facebook group, their story made headlines. 

As for Natalie, the whole debacle inspired her to take action, and she's now organizing a collaborative art project that's bringing the neighbourhood together ... to paint more murals.

She told us about it over email.

The logo for Neighbourhood Love. (@natalieveryb/Instagram)

Name: Natalie Very B.

Age: 29

Homebase: Toronto

Let's talk about your design! What inspired the concept?

When CBC Arts asked me to create an illustration for Women's History Month, I was totally thrilled! This topic is right up my alley. I came up with a striking vision of Mother Earth. She is strong and stands in charge of the seasons, tides and time.

One of your murals wound up in the news recently, and I understand that situation motivated you to create a new project. Tell me about it! What's the Neighbourhood Love campaign?

Neighbourhood Love is a street-level demonstration of love in South Etobicoke. Three of my muralist friends and I (Bareket Kezwer, Julii McMillan, Julia Prajza) created this initiative after one of my clients received two hate letters in response to the mural I had painted. We immediately decided to come together and volunteer our skills in order to spread the messages of love and inclusivity. Through this project we hope to represent the vibrant spirit of South Etobicoke and create a safe space for everyone who lives there.

We are still working on our final artist list and matching them with garage door owners. We aim to include 15 talented Toronto muralists, including ourselves!

How many homeowners have signed up for murals so far?

We have received over 35 applications to date! 

All that paint isn't cheap. How are you funding the whole thing?

We are so very lucky to have amazing support from StreetARToronto, the STEPS Initiative, Mural Routes and Dulux Paints. We are very grateful for the enthusiasm and trust from our sponsors.

When's it all happening? What can you tell me about what you'll be doing?

We will be painting the weekend of October 10 and 11. The mural installation will begin on Saturday morning and run until Sunday at sundown!

I won't be painting personally as I want to open this space for other amazing muralists :) I serve as the organizer at this time.

Is it still possible to get involved? How can people be a part of it? 

Absolutely! If you're in South Etobicoke, you can apply to have your garage door or front door painted here. To request a lawn sign go hereTo donate to the initiative please go here. To find out more, visit our Instagram, where you can download colouring pages created by amazing illustrators from all over the world as their way of donating to our initiative. By coming together we can make love visible.

Found in Toronto's Parkdale neighbourhood, Natalie Very B. painted this mural as part of the StART Celebrates Front Line Heroes program. (@natalieveryb/Instagram)

To switch gears completely ... what's your favourite place to see art?

The MoMA in NYC. I can never get enough. They have one of the most beautiful collections of my favourite artists' work.

What work of art do you wish you owned?

I would be happy with anything by Chagall, Kahlo, Picasso or Lawren Harris.

What's next for you? What else do you have on deck this fall?

I am currently in a graduate program studying art therapy at the Toronto Art Therapy Institute. I assume that between intense Freud readings and custom Christmas commissions I will have my hands full this fall!

Where can we see more from you?

Follow me on Instagram or visit my Etsy store to get witchy and magical prints, stickers and cards :)

A detail shot of Natalie Very B.'s mural at the Eight Street Skate Park in Etobicoke. (@natalieveryb/Instagram)

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