Published on March 22, 2017 | by Shandi Pace     Photography by Shandi Pace


Sketching the Line

Commuters hurriedly hop on and off the subway everyday, greeted by the wall of ads designated to certain areas by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), but Sketching the Line is here to add some artwork in hopes of change.

Artists from around the world have sent in their take on commuters using the subway. Seeing as the artists are drawing commuters who never stop moving, most artwork presented is hastily drawn in pen or pencil and welcome a diverse view of the Greater Toronto Area.

Each finalist is given the opportunity to have their own work displayed in advertising space on the subway and on the digital advertising boards on subway platforms for the majority of the year.

As a finalist of Sketching the Line 2016, Marie-Judith Jean-Louis says that artists offer a unique perspective on society by being observers. “[When it comes to sketching riders] Something as simple as seeing an image of a person who looks like them, highlighting the natural beauty we see in them, has a positive impact. I think it connects people and reminds them that they matter.”

Sketching the Line was started by PATTISON Outdoor Advertising to “provide artists across the country or locally, the opportunity to share their art to the masses,” said David Panaccione, marketing manager for PATTISON Outdoor Advertising.

As part of PATTISON’s Art in Transit initiative, Sketching the Line has previously chosen from numerous artists living in the GTA and around the world. Artists from countries such as Germany and London have had the opportunity to show off their art to people across the entirety of the TTC subway line.

According to Art in Transit, Sketching the Line brings a new range of artistic voices to TTC users, as they are the inspiration behind it. Essentially the art being presented are drawings of commuters sketched by other commuters.

Whether sketching for fun or becoming a force in the art scene, giving artists a name and providing them with more opportunities to use their artistic voice is what makes Toronto unique.

Being able to “push young artists to put our their work as well as show the artistic side of Toronto” is what makes the city different, said Cara Clarke, a student attending the University of Toronto. 

According to Selena Norman, a regular TTC rider, “it’s a great way to showcase the talent hidden within the skyscrapers of Toronto.”

Landscape architect turned full-time artist Wilfred Wong says that, “Drawing, painting, sculpting and other forms of art is how artists communicate with the rest of the world. We are influenced by our environment and each artist has a unique view of how they see the world. This is good for everyone to see a multiplicity of views.”

Prone to missing his stop to finish a sketch, Wong says, the struggle with sketching people on the subway is, “how long they’ll ‘pose’ before they get to their stop.”

The exhibition will run from Spring 2017 until December 2017 in the TTC subway stations around the city. To check out Wong and Jean-Louis’ drawings from Sketching the Line and their other artwork visit and

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About the Author

is a journalism student who enjoys hockey and music. Shandi wants to pursue a career in Sports Broadcasting and hopes to one day work for an NHL team.

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