The virtual world of Toronto’s illicit paintings

Havas and Heritage Toronto created a visually exquisite Insta tour of the city's famous Graffiti Alley.

IMG_6562_iphone6plus_silver_landscapeTry as you might, you’ll never physically be in two places at once (although, maybe one day). If you’re sitting, drinking coffee in an air conditioned office in Alberta right now, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the colourful tags that adorn Toronto’s famous Graffiti Alley. Or could you?

Well, you kind of can. If you have Instagram, open the app right now and look up @graffitialley.to.

There, you will find the “Graffiti Alley Instatour” — probably one of the best uses of Instagram photo tiles to create one large image (in this case, one long alleyway filled with gorgeous graffiti) we’ve ever experienced. We told you to look it up first, because to experience it is to really understand the amount of work that went into this thing.

Created by Havas Worldwide Canada for Heritage Toronto, the tour is made up of 800 images stitched together, with a total of 1,300 Instagram posts, to create a virtual tour of the alley that anyone, anywhere in the world, can enjoy. Not only is it a visual representation of the area, it’s also highly educational, with information tags (in the form of paint cans, natch) displayed on certain parts of the piece where background on the artist, style of tagging and history of the space is presented in the post caption. It’s like Google Maps Streetview on crack.

The piece is more specifically the brainchild of the agency’s ACD Brian Allen, who recently moved from Calgary and became obsessed (clearly) with Graffiti Alley. He wanted to immortalize and chart the location via Instagram, so he and the team worked with photographer Justin Poulson to photograph the alley, as well as create a piece of software that combines the photos to create a perfect perspective. And they’re not done yet. Heritage Toronto is inviting artists who left their handy work on the walls to share their stories on the account, and even tag their own pieces that might have been missed in the tour.

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