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Between the Lines: Deadboy

The creator of many of those Rob Ford stencils you've seen around town talks about graffiti, legal enforcement, and the state of street art in Toronto.

Between the Lines is a documentary looking at graffiti in Toronto that will be released in 2013. In the meantime, Torontoist has partnered with the filmmakers to develop Graffiti Talks, a series of web shorts profiling some key figures in the Toronto graffiti scene. Some are sympathetic, some offensive; hopefully all are thought-provoking.

Many things changed when Rob Ford became mayor of Toronto. One of the most noticeable was the City’s approach to managing graffiti. Ford, famously, made cleaning up the walls of Toronto one of his missions. Bylaw officers started sending out notices to businesses proactively (previously, they had waited for complaints), and the mayor himself even took a power washer to one wall to make his point.

Needless to say, while this ratcheted up tensions, it did little to stop graffiti writers—in fact, many saw an opportunity to fight back on the very walls Ford was trying to scrub. It also revived our public discussions about graffiti and street art more broadly: the City held several graffiti-themed events, and debates about aesthetic merits versus public space versus private property waged on.

Some documentary filmmakers in Toronto are hoping to shed light on all this: they’ve been working on a film about Toronto graffiti since shortly after Rob Ford was elected. That film is called Between the Lines, and we are very excited that producers Kelli Kieley and James Gen Meers have given us—and you—a sneak peek at their footage. Today and over the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of web shorts—profiles of some key figures in Toronto’s graffiti community—as a preview of the full-length film.

We don’t expect the controversy around graffiti to resolve itself anytime soon—it’s a form of art born of tension, after all—but we do think that learning more about the people who make the tags, stencils, and murals we see every day can only enhance our collective conversation about the subject. And so here are some of those people, in their own words.

First up: Deadboy, whose stencils of Rob Ford you’ve probably seen before.

Learn more about Between the Lines on the film’s website and Facebook page.


  • old school.

    Deadboy is a nobody in the grand scheme of toronto graffiti. The end.

  • Betweenthelinesdoc

    Who would you like to see featured?

  • Kate

    Great looking video, would be cool to see more of his ford stencils in it.

  • Poodick

    This is as lame as rob fords war on graffiti

  • Poodick

    It’s also VERY original, and thought provoking and stimulating.

    • Betweenthelinesdoc

      Thank you Poodick (squared).

  • Daniel Bombardier

    It is great when someone creates something which ignites such thought provoking dialogue (poodick that is what we call sarcasm, can you say sarcasm?). I think it this is an amazing project and I am proud to be part of this independent, grassroots, DIY documentary. Anyone who has anything negative to say is most likely just greeeeeeeeeeeen with envy.

  • old school.

    In response to “Betweenthelinesdoc” — a few points to consider…

    This video is an embarrassment to real graffiti writers.
    The only cats worth their weight in this video are Sight and Spud (with Zion as an ambassador).

    Who the hell are the rest? And why on earth is Mr. Brainwash a part of this? Holy crap!
    There is a huge difference between street art and graffiti, please stop blurring the lines between the two. If you don’t know the difference between the two, you shouldn’t be making a movie about the subject.

    Featured, how about these: Ren, Recka, Chuck, Adore, Kane, Kwest, Focus, Teck, Rons, Smug, Eyes, Mozy, Sohoe, Wysper, Case, Manr and the list goes on and on.

    That list is real Graffiti Writers, not “Street Artists”.

    On a different note… To the Torontoist staff… please get rid of the fake graffiti font you have in your logo. It’s an embarrassment to graffiti writers in Toronto and unfortunately takes away from the value of the site as well as the authenticity of the overall Brand.

  • Betweenthelinesdoc

    We’d love to hear more about your expertise. Of course, we can’t please everyone, but we definitely want to learn as much as we can and showcase significant contributors. Please feel free to email us at if you would like to share more of your thoughts. For the purpose of this series, we definitely think Deadboy’s work fits under the category (legal definition) of graffiti, and considering the recent politics around the issue is a worthwhile subject. The documentary is definitely going to look at street artists as well as graffiti writers. We are starting from the POV of the City’s understanding of the idea of graffiti, but are very interested in connecting with those willing to share their knowledge/experience of the Toronto graffiti scene.

  • Street Art fan

    I’d like to see Toronto embrace Street Art as a legitimate form of both art and expression. Just got back from an awesome tour of the Street Art in Buenos Aires, Argentina. What a polar opposite attitude they have towards this form of creativity. Come on Toronto, let’s get on the band wagon! Graffiti is only one form of Street Art, what about stenciling and other forms?

  • Betweenthelinesdoc

    Some of the subjects of the documentary and the Producers are going to be on an interactive online show today at 9:00pm. It is my understanding the piece will be 12 minutes long at 9:30. (Scroll in about 30 minutes to see the show). If you want to put us on the hot seat, ask questions or provide some info, tune in.

  • this is a joke.

    deadboy are you kidding? what a joke. nothing conceptual to offer. How about bring up someone like SPECTR (someone talented who lived here for years)

  • Illz

    Wanna Banksy..

    I don’t see how painting some stencils on a legal wall gives you street cred.

    I also don’t see how stenciling a raccoon on a piece of plywood in front of City Hall during an event makes you a “guerilla artist”

    There is also no concept, his ideas are Raccoon. Rembrandt. Skulls!

    Liking Banksy doesn’t make you an artist.

  • TorontoBornandraised

    What a fucking joke…

    This is a prime example of someone latching onto a subculture, then abusing any “edge” it might have to gain some familiarity.

    This guy is NOT recognized as anything but a joke by the graffiti and toronto art communities, don’t for one second think that he has any legitimacy.

    What he is doing is simply using Photoshop to make an image black and white then stencilling it, there’s no artistic talent required WHATSOEVER to do this shit.