An anonymous Winnipeg artist draws a Ukrainian relief


Have you ever seen a Winnipeg Waldo in the city?

The artwork has been popping up all over town, mostly in the warmer months, since 2017. It’s still a variation of Waldo, the main character in the children’s puzzle book series created by the English illustrator Martin Handford.

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

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

Images are created on a piece of cardboard using stencil, clear film and spray paint and often depict the character in unique and varied 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 guy who, like world-renowned British artist Banksy, works on condition of anonymity. He is known on social media as Winnipeg Waldo, but no other proof of his identity exists on his social media feeds. And that’s how he likes it.

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

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

“I did my best to reach out to Ukrainians, to find the best way to help,” he said in a phone conversation last week.

“The craziest thing is that a month and a half ago all these people (from Ukraine) were living their lives. Everything was normal,” he said. “It was such a quick change.”

On March 14, he posted a photo of his signature Winnipeg Waldo stencilled in the colors of the Ukrainian flag to his Instagram account (@winnipegwaldo).

The caption reads:

“Show Ukraine some love.

“I typically step away from social media during the winter to work on new projects and set aside time in the year to create art for fun and to support mental health.

“However, I am coming out of my hole earlier this year to do a fundraiser. I will be making a number of these little Ukraine-themed Waldos available for $25. The entire $25 will go to the Red Cross and their humanitarian effort.The federal government currently matches all donations from the Red Cross, so by buying one of these Waldos, $50 will go to humanitarian aid.

“If you’re interested, please DM me your name and mailing address.

“Thank you for standing with Ukraine.”

The artist said he has already received orders for more than 20 Waldos which have been painted on ceramic tiles, bringing in around $1,200 to date. The process of making these works of art was a bit tedious due to the freezing and wet weather – each one has five or six coats of spray paint. The drying time of this medium is only a few minutes for each coat in the summer, but it may take a few hours for each coat to dry in cold and humid weather.

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

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

He is always ready to create more artworks if people want to buy them. All profits will be donated to humanitarian aid.

“For as many people as possible who want to take them, I will do them,” he said.

[email protected]

Twitter: @ShelleyA Cook

Shelly Cook

Shelly Cook
Columnist, Reader Bridge Project Manager

Shelley Cook is a columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press and manages the newspaper’s Reader Bridge project, which aims to extend coverage to underserved communities.

Christy J. Olson