Nick Sweetman is a vibrant, young, street artist whose murals can be seen across Toronto, often featuring impressively coloured bees and other creatures of the natural world. And, like us, Nick also understands the importance of protecting, promoting and celebrating pollinators, which is why we chose to feature him in this issue of our newsletter.

Nick graduated from OCAD University’s Interdisciplinary Art, Media and Design program and is also certified through the Mural Routes Leadership Training in Mural-Making program.  We asked him about his public projects and what he hopes to convey through his work.

One of Nick’s earlier works featuring bees was done on a traffic box near High Park. Although smaller than some of his previous projects, it seemed to ignite interest in his work. Soon after this project was finished, he was approached by the city and asked to work on a large mural to help mark Pollinator Week and Toronto’s designation as a Bee City. Sweetman was more than happy to take this on and, shortly thereafter, created the stunning mural featuring a green sweat bee which now overlooks passersby at the prominent Bloor and Howland intersection.

Nick Sweetman's Beaware, High Park & Parkside, Toronto, Ontario. Painted through StreetARToronto, Outside the Box Program

He tells us that he’s always had a soft spot for the natural word and its creepy, crawly things, which is clearly conveyed in his art. He enjoys projects which provoke thought and create an encounter with the viewer. He also says that he seeks to create a sense of wonder about bees and believes that it’s easier to do this by painting them 40 feet tall!

He has since taken on several other bee-themed projects in various parts of the city and says that he tries to incorporate bees into his work whenever he has creative freedom. He mentions that becoming increasingly involved with such work has taught him about the diversity of bees. To underscore this point, he tells us how fascinated he was when he learned that there are 21,000 species of bees worldwide and that most of them are solitary.

Nick Sweetman's Green Sweat Bee mural, Bloor & Howland, Toronto, Ontario.
Other notable work that Nick has been involved with includes the “In Our Hands” mural at Valley Park Middle School. This eco-themed project was completed by Flemingdon and Thorncliffe Park artists in grades 10 and 11 working under the guidance of Nick. The mural, which was created in four separate sections, shows a growing sapling in cupped hands progressing through stages of its life, illustrating the impact of environmental stewardship over several generations. One interesting thing about this work is that parts of the mural were painted using blackboard paint which students of the school can fill with chalk messages encouraging environmental consciousness. Nick told us that he was very proud of this work and his collaboration with the young “artivists”.
To see more of Nick’s work visit nicksweetman.ca.
The first section of the "In Our Hands" mural. Created by Nick Sweetman, Toronto Emerging ARTivists (TEA) and The STEPS Initiative, Valley Park Middle School, Toronto.