While a great number of businesses have been adversely affected by the on-again, off-again restrictions during the pandemic, some businesses have been kept busier than ever. The home renovation industry, for one, has experienced a boom in sales as people chose to spend their money on a new kitchen or bathroom rather than a vacation down south.
|Local graffiti artist Robbie ‘Falldown’ Lariviere and Cumberland Ward Coun. Catherine Kitts stand in front of the piece he did in Coun. Kitts’ ward office at the Ray Friel Complex. FRED SHERWIN PHOTO
But other businesses have made out okay as well. Orléans graffiti artist Robbie “Falldown” Lariviere has been keeping a hectic pace, doing almost a project a day during the pandemic.
Projects can range from labels for local soy candlemaker to skateboards, driveways and walls. He recently did walls for the Sawmill Creek Pool and the Greenboro Community Centre, and he just completed a wall in the ward office of Cumberland Ward Coun. Catherine Kitts.
Lariviere started doing graffiti art 20 years ago after he got a job in a paint supply store and started experimenting with spray paint. His appreciation for the art form evolved into a true passion and he began hosting club nights and group shows.
Although he eventually began doing commission work, he never made enough money to be able to make a full-time living out of it – and then the pandemic hit.
When non-essential businesses were forced to close their doors for a short spell before finally being able to offer curbside service, Lariviere, who worked in the retail sector, was forced to expand his own business. Strictly through word of mouth, he began to take on more and more jobs. He also came up with some unique outlets for his art and for his business. He began doing labels, sandwich boards and store windows.
Last summer, he entered a partnership with the Byward Market BIA and created arguably his proudest work to date – a lava floor on William Street near Beaver Tails.
“It was my daughter’s idea,” says Lari-viere, referring to his nine-year-old daughter Rukah, who is his number one fan and a budding entrepreneur in her own right. “It’s an interactive mural showing a bunch of rocks in a lava flow on the street.”
After Lariviere completed the lava flow, kids of all ages started spontaneously jumping from rock to rock without any words or instructions. The wall he did in Coun. Kitts office depicts scenes from around the ward with a cyclist, a tractor, a farm, an OC Transpo bus, the Navan Fair and an outdoor hockey rink.
“I was looking to do something fun in my ward office to animate the space and make it more inviting,” says Kitts. “Robbie was able to perfectly capture the essence and uniqueness of Cumberland Ward in his design. He’s a resident of the area, so it was a perfect collaboration.”
Lariviere can do both commercial and residential work. He’s done walls in children’s nurseries, man caves, home gyms and garages.
To see a collection of his creations you can visit him on Instagram at #falldowng.