Sitting on Spadina Avenue, Toronto Collective is the city’s most prominent dealer of art goods — except their clientele trade paint brushes for spray paint and canvases for brick walls, sneakers and toys.
Since the store opened in 2013, co-owners Sean Commandant, or Heistdro, and Shane Chiasson, or Ninja, have been supported by a community of street artists who live and breathe Toronto Collective. The pair seem to know every gen Z-er coming through the ranks and has been dealing materials to the OGs since they opened.
“We were planning and brainstorming exactly how we were going to approach this new business,” says Heistdro. “I took over Bomb Shelter and Montana Colours in 2010 and I brought in Shane to help me bring in two new elements to the brand.”
“They’re [collectible toys] usually designed and created by artists who come from street art. So there’s a direct correlation with the collective toys and graffiti and street culture,” Heistdro says.
The other element is an abundance of art supplies outside the usual range of spray paints. Although the latter is their bread and butter, Toronto Collective offers customers hyper-specific art tools adapted for use on sneakers, acrylic toys and just about any medium their heart desires.
Heistdro and Ninja have developed a reputation for being the city’s biggest supporter of street artists. The pair believe that the future of street art lives and dies in the youth. To support this notion, the brand will do anything it takes to ensure artists don’t go down the wrong path.
“If we can have a simple foundation, we’d like to encourage them and show them how they can use graffiti to lead to stable careers,” says Heistdro. “How you can turn that into design work, tattooing and other careers in art.”
Toronto Collective often hosts international artists in the store to demonstrate the capabilities of street art. The pair do so in order to represent the genre and provide young artists with someone to look up to.
Although the team at Toronto Collective is doing its part, Heistdro believes the city can be doing more to ensure young artists prosper.
“It would be really helpful if the city signed on a ton of artists to do murals. It’s hard for artists to prop up their art, so a project like that would give local artists the chance to shine and get the recognition they deserve,” he says.
Toronto Collective is located at 389 Spadina Ave., and is open from Monday to Thursday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every other day.