Who knew that photos of colourful bubbles could be so satisfying? Not this artist

These photos are popping. Check out Sebastien Leduc's bubble art. He's the Toronto artist behind Instagram's The Big in the Small.

These photos are popping. What started as a fluke is now his 'true calling'

Sebastien Leduc. In Swirls of Solitude. (Courtesy of the artist)

Is that a painting of the universe or a puddle of ice cream? A photograph or Photoshop?

When Sebastien Leduc catches someone asking questions like that about his work, it's one of his favourite things.

"Just seeing their awe and amazement, people trying to figure out what the process is," he says. "That's what I really like."

Leduc, 34, lives in Toronto. He works a marketing job during the day, and for the last 15 years he's done music on the side — playing everything from black metal to folk, and managing his own record labels as well.

But none of that's his "true calling," as he puts it.

Leduc lives for bubble art.

Most people would go insane doing it, but I like it.- Sebastien Leduc, artist

Every day for a year, he's had the same routine. He makes an unappealing but special blend of milk and oil and homemade pigments and then he pours out the results — hoping to capture some close-up magic through his camera's macro lens.

The photos, as you can see, put the pop in eye-popping, and on Instagram (@thebiginthesmall) he's growing an audience that's at more than 14,000 followers a year after launching the project.

Putting the pop in eye-popping, Sebastien Leduc and one of his bubble art photos. (Courtesy of the artist)

Actress Kat Dennings gave him a valuable shoutout in the summer when she shared one of his pieces in an Instagram story. And though the platform's generally a friendly place for "fluid" artists, whether they're doing paper marbling or paint mixing or slime poking — or whatever produces the "brain tingles" that ASMR junkies crave — Leduc says he's not doing it for the 'gram. Or he wasn't originally, at least.

"This was a total fluke. This was not something I was gunning for at all," he says.

A little more than a year ago, he was playing around with his macro lens, trying to come up with some trippy visuals for one of his personal music videos.

"So I started playing with household items and liquids and bubbles happened," he says. "I ended up falling in love with what I was doing way more than I ever loved music."

Every shoot is completely unpredictable, and that's what got him hooked.

"You always pour the milk, always add the colour pigments and then always add the oil, but you always get a different result."

It's become a daily obsession. Since the beginning, he's been experimenting with liquids (cough syrup, turpentine, whole milk, skim), temperatures, pour heights. That's given him some control over a shoot, he says. But on weekdays, he'll still spend at least three hours in his studio; on weekends, a shoot could take as long as 12. Ultimately, he's always photographing liquid chaos, and he's lucky if he lands what he's looking for.

"What looks beautiful one second can turn nightmarish in the next," he says, and discovering the perfect scene comes down to his instincts.

"Most people would go insane doing it, but I like it," he says.

"You get to see one picture that gets published — I get to see so many cool ones that will never be," he says. "It's like creating micro universes that exist temporarily and then it's up to me to get that snapshot."

"It's really the passion and the love. I can't not do it."

Take a look.

Sebastien Leduc. Bliss is a Side Effect. (Courtesy of the artist)
Sebastien Leduc. Before the Moon. (Courtesy of the artist)
Sebastien Leduc. Lay With Me. (Courtesy of the artist)
Sebastien Leduc. Out of Body, Out of Mind. (Courtesy of the artist)
Sebastien Leduc. In the Mind's Eye. (Courtesy of the artist)
Sebastien Leduc. Embossed in Frost. (Courtesy of the artist)
Sebastien Leduc. Atop the Spire of Unknowing. (Courtesy of the artist)
Sebastien Leduc. Eternal Snow. (Courtesy of the artist)
Sebastien Leduc. We Leave at Dawn. (Courtesy of the artist)
Sebastien Leduc. Endless Waves of Light. (Courtesy of the artist)
Sebastien Leduc. It Wasn't All Better in the Past. (Courtesy of the artist)
Sebastien Leduc. Somnabulising Between Silence and Sound. (Courtesy of the artist)
Sebastien Leduc. That Space Between Earth and Sky. (Courtesy of the artist)
Sebastien Leduc. When They Came, We Were Gone. (Courtesy of the artist)

About the Author

Leah Collins

Leah Collins is the Senior Writer at CBC Arts.

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