Creature Comforts


Tony Smerek

Creatures Creating began 3 years ago as a nomadic entity that brought art and music to available spaces in the city [Toronto]. After occupying bookstores, abandoned warehouses, and yoga studios, Creatures is now in its second year of having a permanent physical space. You can find this gallery, artist studio, and music venue at 822 Dundas St. West.

Wllnttz sat down with owner, Darren Leu; visual artist, Jordan McKie; and musician, Jace to discover the creative ‘habits’ and ‘comforts’ behind the Creatures : Collective.

part of the collective studio space

How did Creatures begin?

It all started when Darren dropped out of OCAD to pursue t-shirt design. He held an art exhibit at the t-shirt store. This is where he got his first taste at selling artwork and helping other artists. Subsequently he realized true fulfillment came from not just graphic arts, but visual arts, and helping other artists find their footing.  He did more and more art exhibits, fashion shows, and music showcases until it reached a point where these activities needed their own space.

part of the collective studio space.

At what point did you realize you were or an artist?


Drawing is what Darren became know for. He was a shy, quiet kid growing-up. Drawing became his outlet and way to connect with others. He drew funny comics, but wouldn’t talk to anyone except to show them his comics. Good response after good response, he kept drawing.


It was a combination of something that happened by accident and something deliberate.

Growing up, Jordan became accustomed to making art. When it came time to consider what he would like to with his future, he didn’t see himself doing anything conventional. He realized he spent his youth drawing through classes. He began to explore further creative outlets, which eventually led him to Sheridan and doing what he does today. Creating for Jordan is definitely about a form of expression that goes beyond the conventional framework of gallery art.

It’s a way to communicate with other people. It’s a way to communicate your individuality. It’s a way to say we’re here.  Jordan is mostly known for painting landscapes and portraits, but more recently has begun experimenting with collages.


Collage by Jordan McKie


It was a no brainer. He didn’t want to become the authority that tried to control him growing-up.

What does expression mean to you?


There are 2 kinds of expression. One is, ‘I like the way people express things and I want to duplicate that, and I want to make myself into that.’ It’s a valid form of expression, because they are broadening their horizon. Then there is the other kind of artist who has a fucking point. They don’t care about anything except making their point. This is when you’ve discovered the thing you are supposed to do with the objects around you.


It’s about being an individual and doing what you want to do regardless of what that is because that makes you into more of a human. When I want to express myself I’ll be dancing, drawing, painting, writing on some shit, no matter what no matter where… it’s about discovering who you are [not how society sees you].


Collage by Jordan McKie


Right now his expression is Creatures Creative. He is the administrator and the Collective is its community, which he supports.

What impact does music have on art and art have on music?


The collective works because it mixes art, music, and fashion into one space. Music style doesn’t matter, just passion, as long as they are in it for the right reason. We have musicians from indie, to beach rock, to synthesizer, and heavy metal. Even the visual artists here aren’t about making generic art. The focus isn’t on selling. It’s about doing what they love. It’s the about being genuine.


Music is about the beat and the rhythm. Something to keep you going. Good lyrics, like in new hip-hop can be inspiring. Music can be used as a tool to escape the distractions of now or the future. 

For Jordan music can take him into the dimension of creativity. It

defines segments of time, like a new season. In turn, this segmentation is used to emote and reference nostalgic feelings and memories of those times, when painting.


In Jace’s case there is a bit of a reversal occurring. Where his primary focus is on music, he has began to dabble more with drawing and painting.

What part does social media play?

They tend to agree. Social media isn’t so much a creative outlet, but definitely plays a role for communication to those interested in the creative community. Otherwise, pigeon carriers and cans-on-a-string work too.

Did family lead the way?

In Darren’s case he is a pioneer. There are no artists in the family, if anything they were anti-art. Darren’s Mom thinks his involvement in the arts is a phase. There is also no family history of entrepreneurism. 

Jace had two creative talents in the family. His uncle was an artist and musician. His grandma was pitch-perfect.

Jordan had three artists in the family and his Mom’s Bohemian flare definitely influenced him.

Rules, follow them, make them, or break them?

These three aren’t followers. There is a consensus that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.

Do you live in the past, now or future?

The now is where Darren and Jordan primarily focus.  Jace, who arrived in the moment via his electric bike, believes there is only the now.  Everything is just a recollection of the past. The better your past is, the better your now moment will be. There is no past. It is just a continuation of what you are already doing.


Speaking of moments. There was moment that included a Creatures handshake, which we did because Darren told us, “Creatures do everything as a group”.

Whether its official or not, I know I am some sort of creature. Check-out their future show, The Collective Unconscious, this Thursday, August 15th. Arrive in the now and find out if you are a creature.

plz print flyer

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