If you’ve spent any time at an ildsjel event, you may have noticed Erik Irwin making his rounds. Whether because of his vibrant artwork or because his stature often puts him a solid head-length above the rest of the attendees, Erik can be tough to miss. Bearded and soft-spoken, he has attended and has contributed his art to nearly every ildsjel event so far, and each time proven to be a wonderful addition. His skills and creative drive, however, reach far beyond the realm of digital design.

In his years since attending Toronto’s Max the Mutt Animation School for Sequential Arts, Erik hasn’t settled on one style or medium. Instead, he has allowed the jobs that come his way guide his creativity.

Ranging from recent jobs as lead artist and designer for the the Billy Talent music video “Running Across the Tracks,” to set and prop design, to mural and matte painting on films like Jonathan Sobol’s the Art of the Steal, Erik is constantly finding new ways to apply his talents.

“Usually I end up using the jobs I get to play around and experiment,” Erik says between bites of a blueberry muffin in a Parkdale coffee shop.

“The fact that I’m always doing different things keeps me interested and gives me a chance to be creative and explore new things.”

Stranger Things and Jotunn Handmade GoodsBetween bigger projects, Erik stays busy with his shop in the Toronto Arts Market on College Street, where he sells his art under his brand jötunn. Among his mugs, Settlers of Catan-inspired coasters and framed prints of characters from Adventure TimeSteven Universe, and Pokémon, one will also find his latest creations: In recent months, Erik’s attention has been shifting away from digital art, instead drawing inspiration from nature and Scandinavian design. With this aesthetic in mind, he creates candles, terrariums and other elegant crafts utilizing found materials.

Be it interesting pieces of wood from downed trees or antique jars, Erik considers the history and life of an object as he integrates it into his art.

“You imagine the possibilities you could do with this object that is already done its lifecycle,” Erik says.

Erik’s ability to find beauty and creative potential in the nature around him is perfectly encapsulated by his choice of moniker: jötunn, the Norse word for the legendary giants battled by Thor.

“It’s more than just about the fact that they’re giants, they represent the earth and our tie to it, and that whole way we use mythology to relate, as humans, to the world around us,” Erik says as he sips his iced coffee. “We live in this environment, and we should work with the environment and be inspired by it.”


Check out pieces from Erik on his websiteInstagram and Tumblr, or at the Toronto Arts Market at 846 College Street.