Anonymous Winnipeg artist draws up Ukraine relief


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Have you ever seen a Winnipeg Waldo around the city?

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/04/2022 (302 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Have you ever seen a Winnipeg Waldo around the city?

The art pieces have been popping up all around the city, mostly in the warmer months, since 2017. They are always some variation of Waldo, the main character in the series of children’s puzzle books created by English illustrator Martin Handford.

The beauty of the local art is you never know where you’ll see a new Waldo — on a hydro pole, the back of a sign, on a building or fence — or how long it will be there.

Image of the Winnipeg Waldo images that are being sold to support Ukraine. (Supplied)

It’s a little local treasure and a little burst of beauty for all to enjoy.

The images are created on a piece of board using a stencil, transparent film and spray paint and they often depict the character in unique and varying ways. There’s the standard Waldo, of course, but the artist has used different styles and different themes for his work.

Speaking of the artist, he’s a local fella who, like world-famous U.K.-based artist Banksy, works under a shroud of anonymity. He is known on social media as Winnipeg Waldo, but no other evidence of his identity exists on his social-media feeds. And that’s the way he likes it.

The anonymous Winnipeg-based artist recently launched an online fundraiser to help raise money for Ukraine relief efforts.

He felt compelled to do something because he was horrified when Russia invaded Ukraine. As with so many Manitobans, this war hit close to home for him. He has Ukrainian roots through his grandfather, as well as friends and family who live in the war-torn country.

“I’ve been trying my best to reach out to people from Ukraine, to figure out the best way to help” he said in a telephone conversation last week.

“The craziest part is that a month and a half ago, all these people (from Ukraine) were just living their lives. Everything was normal,” he said. “This was such a fast shift.”

On March 14, he posted a picture of his signature stenciled Winnipeg Waldo in the colours of the Ukrainian flag on his Instagram account (@winnipegwaldo).

The caption reads:

“Show some love to Ukraine.

“I typically take a step away from social media over the winter to work on new projects and set aside time in the year to create artwork for enjoyment and to support mental health.

“However, I am emerging from my hole a bit early this year to do a fundraiser. I will be creating a number of these smaller Ukraine-themed Waldos available for $25. The entire $25 will be going to the Red Cross and their humanitarian effort for the people of Ukraine. The federal government is currently matching all Red Cross donations, so by purchasing one of these Waldos that’s $50 that will be going toward the humanitarian aid.

“If you are interested please DM me your name and mailing address.

“Thanks for standing with Ukraine.”

The artist said he’s already received orders for more than 20 Waldos that have been painted on ceramic tiles, raising around $1,200 so far. The process of making these art pieces has been a bit tedious because of the freezing, wet weather — each has five or six layers of spray paint. The drying time for this medium is only a few minutes for each layer in the summer, but it can take a few hours for each layer to dry in cold, wet, weather.

The artist says he’s just happy to be able to help in some small way.

“In some ways, it’s just a drop in the bucket, but it’s also really inspiring to see so many people doing what they can to help,” he said, referring to various fundraisers and acts of giving he’s seen others show for the people of Ukraine since the war started.

He’s still game to make more art pieces if people want to buy them. All of the proceeds will be donated toward humanitarian aid.

“For as many people who want to take them, I’ll make them,” he said.

Twitter: @ShelleyACook

Shelley Cook

Shelley Cook
Columnist, Manager of Reader Bridge project

Shelley is a born and raised Winnipegger. She is a proud member of the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation.


Updated on Monday, April 11, 2022 10:54 AM CDT: Corrects typo

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