Home » A Visit with Jason McLean, Toronto

A Visit with Jason McLean, Toronto

VoCA paid a visit to the home and studio of artist Jason McLean last week. It was a wonderful glimpse inside a truly honest artistic mind. McLean was raised in London Ontario, moved to Vancouver where he attended the Emily Carr College of Art and Design, and has been in Toronto, with his family, since 2008.

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Jason McLean, world stage 1978 (photo etching), 2005. Image: jasonmclean.ca

There were a few things we loved in particular. One was Jason’s large collection of found writing, bits of scrap paper that he found all over the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver (a dodgy part of town) and has collected inside a suitcase. He uses these writings – many of which are shockingly sad and dark – as inspiration for his work.

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Jason McLean, can-can hat, 2007. Image: jasonmclean.ca

He has traded his work for work by other artists and his collection now includes work by everyone from Barry McGee and Jack Shadbolt to Raymond Pettibon and Jessica Stockholder, as well as many of his artists friends – Marc Bell, Geoffrey Farmer, Marcel Dzama, Paul Butler, Karin Bubas and many others.


A lovely drawing by Marcel Dzama. Image: toxicocultura.com

He says that it’s necessary for him to work on “20 to 30” projects at any given time just to survive as an artist, and he is indeed prolific. Two large suitcases are filled with zines that he has illustrated and collaborated on over the years and there are large drawings and sculptures everywhere.

He is also a natural collector, of art, books, even old packets of sugar. He makes art from them. Jason is seemingly inspired by everything, most charmingly by his community of fellow artists and musicians.

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Jason McLean, strathcona heights, 2007. Image: jasonmclean.ca

His piece Strathcona Avenue, is an homage to them. It’s a photograph of an old Vancouver building, over which Jason has painted the names, nicknames and personal references of his friends and collaborators. There’s even a white flag in honour of a deceased friend.

He’s working on a billboard for next year’s Vancouver Olympics. The organization Arts Partners in Creative Development provides funding to B.C. arts organizations in order to create and develop art works that will be exhibited at the Olympics. It’s great that the city is using this opportunity to really showcase their local artists.

One Response to “A Visit with Jason McLean, Toronto”

  1. Anu says:

    Jason McLean is a really great guy.

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