The larger than life urban typography of Trevor Wheatly
xpect the unexpected is the motto of urban artist Trevor Wheatley. After all, all that is needed to break the rules of contemporary art scene is a tool kit, some cans of paint and a company of three to share and create typographic sculptures unlike any others. Words embedded into nature's desktop, large scale installations shouting with carefully crafted letterforms, the art of Toronto-based Wheatley is out of this world and into the woods. A man of the city ready to explore the unforeseen, Trevor “or Treverferever as he’s amicably called by admirers who sigh at the drop of his handle” is best known for his sculptural text pieces which he produces, places in "offbeat" locations and photo shoots in an attempt to bring urban slang out of it's smogy context.
His story is simple. After graduating from Montreal’s Concordia University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Trevor moved back to Toronto and worked on a couple of Guillermo del Toro ventures. “At that time I was working on film sets so I would just take from the dumpsters” he added in his interview with The Creator Class.
“It’s good to know how to read, but it’s dangerous to know how to read and not how to interpret what you’re reading”
Today his commercial portfolio is equally big as his pieces which companies adore -thanks to his Nike swoosh hanging in the woods. “It’s a blessing and a curse having our work lend itself so well to branding and design,” says Wheatley. LinkedIn, Microsoft, New Balance and Stussy are next in line. These corporate paychecks allowed him to focus on his text pieces, his art. “Unlike other contemporaries creating text pieces, Trevor is not after truth, like Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger, or producing epiphanies like Tracey Emin. He works with high school idioms and rap phrases whose meanings shift as the cultural landscape changes. Even Doug Aitken, whose aesthetic Trevor admires, focuses on rudimentary words: end, sex, now, sunset. Trevor made an Urban Dictionary series. He builds individual letters—out of wood, mirrors, ice, chicken wire and cotton batting—trudges into the wild with a photographer, suspends the letters in the trees or places in them in a creek, and then tears them down after the shoot” writes Nichole Jankowksi of MilkMade.
“Usually I design the sculptures on Adobe illustrator, then build an armature that can be deconstructed into smaller pieces that will fit into a truck. On site they’re reassembled, installed, and left to decompose. The shoot days are super fun, fill a few cars with city kids and head out of town. A lot is left up to chance, sometimes it rains or lighting isn’t right, but there are great days, occasionally a group of horses show up and want to stand with your sculpture. I have the best team/friends in the world. I’m sort of useless without them!”
“A lot is left up to chance but there are great days, occasionally a group of horses show up and want to stand with your sculpture”
Trevor Wheatley and his squad (Aaron Wynia, Jake Sherman, and Cosmo Dean) are shaping the language of our times, letter by letter, literally. “It’s good to know how to read, but it’s dangerous to know how to read and not how to interpret what you’re reading” commented Jake Sherman.