Like any good camper, this bird-headed muralist leaves each wall better than he found it

Come for the bird head — stay for the zany, community-driven murals. Meet graffiti artist birdO.

Come for the bird head — stay for the zany, community-driven murals. Meet graffiti artist birdO

(CBC Arts)

birdO is a Toronto-based artist most well known for his massive public artworks featuring surreal geometric creatures. He​ spends most of the winter hibernating in his studio and most of the summer perched on scissor​lifts stretching up the sides of buildings, painting dreamlike murals in towns and cities across Canada and beyond.

These places, both urban centres and small towns, are important to him. He points out: "I think there's a responsibility that might be overlooked sometimes from the artist's perspective — that you're gone. You're leaving that town, and maybe not coming back for a long time. But you're leaving something behind that people are going to be viewing every day."

So when birdO arrives somewhere new, he doesn't just paint — he tries to immerse himself in the community. This is how he learns and grows.

Watch the video:

birdO shows love for communities through murals

5 years ago
Duration 3:25
Graffiti artist birdO hopes to use art to leave each town he paints in better than when he arrived. Filmmaker: Brandon Gray.

In this video, you'll meet birdO as he paints a new mural for the Up Here Festival in Sudbury, Ontario. The painting depicts two wolves on this wall in the downtown core. While he was painting it, the spectacle drew a lot of foot traffic. And one particular interaction helped birdO understand an alternate meaning for his piece.

(CBC Arts)

A visitor told birdO the story of Two Wolves — a Cherokee metaphor used to explain inner turmoil. Fighting inside each of us is a good wol​f and a bad wolf. The bad wolf is evil and represents anger, jealousy and greed. The good world is peace, joy and compassion. The wolf that wins the fight is the one that we feed. It's just one story that inspires birdO to care about community and try as hard as he can to leave each town better than when he arrived.

Follow birdO here.

(CBC Arts)
(CBC Arts)
(CBC Arts)

Watch CBC Arts: Exhibitionists on Friday nights at 11:30pm (12am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT) on CBC Television.


Brandon Gray is a filmmaker and photographer from Northern Ontario. When he’s not chasing sunsets he can usually be found on a basketball court.