Category Archives: Photography

JR: Can Art Change the World?


This is the first major, in-depth retrospective monograph on JR, the enigmatic and anonymous Parisian photographer, artist and activist behind some of the world’s most provocative, large-scale public photography projects. Created in close collaboration with JR, this book includes all bodies of work, his collaborations with other artists and institutions such as the New York Ballet, and previously unpublished behind-the-scenes documentation of his studios in Paris and New York, where he and creative collaborators live and work.


Working anonymously, pasting his giant images on buildings, trains and bridges, the often-guerrilla artist JR forces us to see each other. Travelling to distant, often dangerous places—the slums of Kenya, the favelas of Brazil—he infiltrates communities, befriending inhabitant and recruiting them as models and collaborators. He gets in his subjects’ faces with a 28mm wide-angle lens, resulting in portraits that are unguarded, funny, soulful, real, that capture the spirits of individuals who normally go unseen. The blown-up images pasted on urban surfaces—the sides of buildings, bridges, trains, buses, on rooftops—confront and engage audiences where they least expect it. Images of Parisian thugs are pasted up in bourgeois neighbourhoods; photos of Israelis and Palestinians are posted together on both sides of the walls that separate them.

Swipe was pleased to be included as one of JR’s stops in last month’s Nuit Blanche. While here, he did a pasting on the spines of his books, which we then cut free as they were sold, allowing attendees to take home a “piece” of JR’s art. Do you live in Toronto? Come check out the display in our shop, and pick up a copy of the book for yourself, or to give as a gift to the art lover in your life.
Can’t make it to our 401 Richmond Street West location? Send us an email info at swipe dot com or give us a call 416-363-1332.


The Big Sale. It's Big, and It's a Sale.

Well, it’s finally starting to feel like spring, and we all know what that means:


No? Okay then, let’s try:


That’s right. In honour of the season and its renewing, motivating forces, we’ve decided to comb through our collection at the 401 Richmond store and reduce prices on a selection of products, books and magazines for pretty much all of the next month. It’s the inaugural Big Sale, and it’s aptly named, unlike our former annual Sidewalk Sale (which we were never actually allowed to have on the sidewalk).

Big Sale offerings include Bodoni’s mammoth Manual of Typography from Taschen;
$5 back issues of magazines and annuals such as Communication Arts, Archive and Print; a mixture of classic and contemporary products from Nava, Arzberg, Umbra, imm Living and Rosti; information-loaded digital weather-station clocks designed by Philippe Starck; past issues of the architecturally uplifting 2G Magazine (which has – rather sadly – just gone digital with the newest issue, so grab those printed copies while you can); and some elegant one-off pieces of silverware (because really, who says you need a table setting of four?).

We’ll be discounting these items, and more, right through to Sunday, May 26, when we’ll be open for the final day of Doors Open Toronto. (Another excellent reason to visit the 401 Richmond building, and Swipe in particular.)


To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit Swipe at 401 Richmond Street West, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or email us at

Open Them There Doors, Toronto

Once again, Doors Open Toronto is just around the corner, and once again, we here at Swipe are thankful to be part of the extraordinary arts and culture complex at 401 Richmond Street West. A prime destination during the festival, 401 is expecting a surge of visitors over the weekend of May 26 and 27. Accordingly, Swipe will also open its doors all weekend: on Saturday from 10am to 6pm, and on Sunday from 10am to 5pm.

In celebration of this celebration of our city’s cultural, social and architectural heritage, we’ll be updating our blog with a rundown of current Torontoniana, beginning with a brand-new release from Toronto’s own Coach House Books that documents the changing facades of this city’s streets. Featuring the photographic work of Patrick Cummins, with text by Toronto flâneur Shawn Micallef, Full Frontal T.O.: Exploring Toronto’s Architectural Vernacular chronicles thirty years of local shift and change. (2012: Coach House Books; ISBN 9781551098913)

The book is available at Swipe for $24.95, and until May 31, you can also visit the Urbanspace Gallery’s free Full Frontal T.O. exhibition, with large-scale versions of many of the photographs on display.

Full Frontal T.O.: Exploring Toronto’s Architectural Vernacular
2012: Patrick Cummins and Shawn Micallef

Graphis Gets Back on Schedule (Ironic That a Swiss Publication Should Get Off Schedule in the First Place)

Graphis was launched, rather optimistically, in Zurich in 1944 at the height of the Allied advance on Germany. In the following decades, the journal and founding editor Walter Herdeg were among the foremost proponents for rationalism and quality in the graphic arts. Herdeg continued to run the magazine until 1986 when it was sold and moved to New York under the editorship of B. Martin Pedersen.

Under Herdeg, Graphis never charged an entry fee for submissions, so that Graphis annuals regularly featured high-quality work by young talent. This has been particularly true in the case of Photographis, with arresting personal work being displayed alongside the best international commercial projects. There is an unfortunate perception that these publications stand somewhere behind the cutting edge, however, taking the current issues as an example, this seems unwarranted. That said, the Gold and Platinum winners categories do make the whole endeavour sound a bit like a travel rewards program.

For fans of Graphis publications in Canada, availability has been a much larger concern as the publisher has, for some years, struggled with an inconsistent release schedule and poor Canadian distribution. By the end of last year Graphis was behind by up to two years on several (formerly annual) series. We at Swipe were worried that the whole program might simply disappear. Happily, these problems seem finally to have been resolved with improved Canadian logistics and an almost overwhelming raft of new releases.



Graphis Annuals 2009
? 2009: B. Martin Pedersen, editor

All series: $83.95

Graphis Design Annual 2009

The flagship annual from Graphis, published continuously since 1952, this year’s volume features linked essays by Stefan Sagmeister, Korea’s Ahn Sang-Soo, and Harry Pearce of Pentagram London. (2008: Graphis; ISBN 9781932026139)

Graphis Advertising Annual 2009

One of the more recent additions to the program, since its introduction in 1993, Graphis Advertising has become an important single volume alternative to the regional and association-based annuals. (2009: Graphis; ISBN 9781932026528)

Graphis Photo Annual 2009

First produced in 1966, Graphis Photo is consistently the most beautiful and inspiring general photo annual in the world. (2009: Graphis; ISBN 1932026509)

Graphis New Talent Design Annual 2009

The only international student design annual, featuring creative work produced by students from professional programs in graphic design, advertising, and photography. This edition offers a special profile of the SADI School of Design in South Korea. (2009: Graphis; ISBN 1932026460)

Graphis Annual Report 2009

Featuring 106 international examples Graphis A.R. is the only fully editorial-based annual devoted to the annual report. Designed by Robert Louie of the Louey/Rubino Design Group in Santa Monica, this year’s annual was judged by Audra Brown, David Schimmel, Michael Stinson, Davor Bruketa, Robert Louey, Javier Leguizamo, and Richard Colbourne(2009: Graphis; ISBN 1932026517)

Graphis Poster Annual 2008 / 2009

Since 1976 Graphis Poster has been the only international showcase of contemporary poster design. This edition also offers critical essays by renowned curators Christian Larsen of The MoMA, René Grohnert of The German Poster Museum, Kari Savolainen of Finland’s Lahti Poster Museum, Rene Wanner of Poster Page, and Pepe Menéndez of Cuba’s Casa de las Américas, among others. This is one of the titles that seems to have moved from an annual to an occasional publication. (2008: Graphis; ISBN 9781932026122)

Graphis Branding 5

This edition of Graphis Branding is divided into two sections, one offering 10 comprehensive case studies of recent branding projects and the other a simple showcase of 50 new identity systems. The series was formerly titled Graphis Corporate Identity and we assume Graphis already regretting the change. (2009: Graphis; ISBN 1932026207)

Previously published and also available:

Graphis Brochures 6
(2007: Graphis; ISBN 9781932026481)

Graphis Letterhead 7
(2008: Graphis; ISBN 9781932026498)

Graphis Logo 7
(2008: Graphis; ISBN 9781932026030)


To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at: