Arts & Culture

Robbie Lariviere is making Ottawa cooler, one mural at a time

If you’ve been downtown lately, you’ve likely come across art by Robbie Lariviere, who shares his work on Instagram under @falldowng. Whether you call it graffiti, window dressing, or high-end doodles, there’s no disputing the fact that Lariviere is brightening up the city, one drawing at a time.

“It makes people look twice,” says Lariviere, whose work can be found in Ottawa shops, offices, hotels, and cafés.

Photo by Jessica Deeks

For five years, Lariviere experimented with the intersection of art and shopping through Fall Down Gallery, a store/gallery/event space in Centretown that closed in 2015. He also spent years selling sneakers and hoodies at a downtown streetwear store.

Now he’s committing full-time to his art — when he’s not looking after his six-year-old daughter Rukah, he’s putting pen to glass (or drywall or chalkboard).

“Demand is so insane,” says Lariviere, whose clients are primarily independent businesses that want an interesting, “current” facade.

Lariviere’s art enlivens the urban streetscape — and makes people pause. Maybe they take a selfie or visit the store; either way, the bold lines and colourful characters disrupt the all-too-familiar experience of rushing through a commercial strip while staring at your phone. Using chalk and oil-based markers, as well as spray paint for faster work, Lariviere descends on a space and transforms it into an art piece. (He’s quick to send his Instagram followers to Wallack’s Art Supplies, where he gets all his materials.) And his retail experience informs his rates. “I’m not charging a ridiculous amount.”

Behind the Scenes: at the Robbie Lariviere photoshoot
with Jessica Deeks

Because we’re proud of our work with local photographers, we’re sharing some behind the scenes pics — as well as the backstory on how the fantastic images in our print edition came to be. (It’s a lot of work!)

Portraits by Jessica Deeks – www.jessicadeeks.com / @jessicadeeks Behind the scenes images by Nicolai Gregory

“It was a pleasure being able to photograph Robbie and incorporate one of his fantastic murals into the portraits,” says Ottawa-based photographer Jessica Deeks.

“I used a moodier lighting setup that I felt complimented the style of this piece, and had fun finding different angles to shoot portraits from. I also made sure to remove any distractions in Photoshop so that his work would shine and not be hindered by unnecessary objects, down to the string that turns on the neon sign above his head. Big thanks to Roku Bar + Bites for letting us shoot in their restaurant where this mural is a permanent fixture!”

Portraits by Jessica Deeks – www.jessicadeeks.com / @jessicadeeks Behind the scenes images by Nicolai Gregory