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Toons On Tap Interview

Toons On Tap Interview


Interview by: Rogue Benjamin

For those of you unfamiliar, Toons On Tap is a costumed life drawing event located in downtown Toronto, Canada. Events take place the second and fourth Wednesday evenings of the month. These life drawing sessions were created with the animator in mind, and fortunately for me (and all of you), I got a chance to sit down with Jeremy Cardarelli and Lauri Lewis, the brains behind the operation as well as their photographer Jeffrey Danyleyko recently, to interview them about Toons on Tap.

Toons On Tap Interview
Khaleesi Modelled by Northern Belle Rogue
Drogo Modelled by El Toro
Artwork by Adam John Temple
Photography by Matthew Gargula

Rogue: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me.

Everyone: Thank you.

Rogue: So where did Toons on Tap begin?

Lauri: Where?

Rogue: Where? When? How? Why?

Lauri: It was at the Smiling Buddha of February in 2012

Rogue: And why? Were you inspired by something, did you just want to set up an event…?

Lauri: The December before we were brainstorming about ways to make money, and we came up with this.

Rogue: That’s a pretty good reason.

Lauri: …And it didn’t really turn out to be a money maker (laughs)

Rogue: Well, art y’know (laughs)

Jeff: Not exactly to your surprise.

Toons On Tap Interview
Queen of Hearts Modelled by Bianca Boom Boom
Photography by Jeffrey Adam Danyleyko

Lauri: No, No you know I think we had delusions of grandeur ‘we’ll make an extra thousand a month on the side’ (laughs all around) …but seriously, we went to animation school together (gesturing to Jeremy) and we did organize some extra life drawing at the school.

Rogue: Fair, so you just built on what you’d already started with school.

Lauri/Jeremy: Yeah.

Jeremy: Also in school it was mostly nudes, so we wanted something different. We wanted something, I guess geared towards animators. So that’s why we do the costume stuff and the themes.

Rogue: So out of curiosity, who gets to pick the themes?

Lauri: I’d say we all do.

Rogue: Yeah? So is it just whoever wants a certain image, or a certain character…? How do you guys generally go about that?

Jeremy: Yeah, it is a character sometimes, right? (looks to Lauri) Sometimes it’s based on a character…

Lauri: (jokingly) I’m gonna answer all the questions!

Jeffrey: Well no, sometimes, I’m paraphrasing you guys because I’m usually not there deciding it, but sometimes we find a model and find out “Oh well they do this this and this.” And this is someone we want to work with, so we’ll end up going with them, sometimes we’ll have a character idea and we’ll come across a bunch of people in the city who do that character… and a couple of times including our most successful session to date have been based on audience suggestions.

Lauri: Sometimes, someone contacts us who doesn’t have costumes, but their posing skills are so strong we think what could we see them as? One example, very early one was Nic Farber – she contacted us and she had a very impressive portfolio, lots of animation life drawing, but no costumes at the time. But we saw her … this petite woman could be a news boy and she was amazing!

Jeffrey: Oh my god, those are still some of my favourite photos to date.

Jeremy: And that was our fourth session!

Rogue: So you two [Jeremy & Lauri] officially run Toons on Tap, do you have other people who support you guys or are you it?

Jeremy: We are it. We do everything.

Lauri: In the beginning we were working with our friend Erikos Petrou. And he ended up joining the Greek army.

Jeffrey: A little out of the way.

Lauri: But he uploads pictures of him sometimes, of him painting murals in the army. Other than that in the very beginning we did hire Rita Koos. She works as a model booker at Max the Mutt and she booked the models for us when we were first starting out. Cause, the first session it was so hard to find someone. Models were turning us down because obviously we didn’t have a background. Now we have the opposite problem!

Rogue: Too many models! (laughs)

Jeffrey: You get e-mails every couple of days saying “Hey can I model for you?”

Rogue: Well I saw on the website too one of the things listed was that you do not accept unsolicited models.

Jeremy: Exactly, yeah.

Lauri: Yes, because if someone amazing applies obviously were going to accept it. That just filters out the people who can’t read.

Rogue: For sure, I understand. People reading and understanding what they are getting into. Modeling is a very broad word. Some people don’t realize the differences between generic modeling, fashion modeling, still life modeling and the different requirements.

Jeffrey: Oh yeah, we’ve noticed that! (all laugh)

Jeremy: I think people just get really excited and they see what’s going on stage and like, yes I can do this too. So they come up and say “can we model for you” and our first response is “Do you have experience?” And they are like “No.” …“Well then we can’t hire you” (laughs)

Rogue: Yeah, and when you are hiring someone you get what you pay for right?

Jeremy: Exactly.

Lauri: Yeah, I find the fastest way to politely turn someone down that contacts us is to ask for a reference, or… a last name. (Everyone laughs)

Toons On Tap Interview
The Princess Modelled by Paige la Pearl
Photography by Jeffrey Adam Danyleyko

Rogue: So in regards to your posters, do you generally tag team them or do you have other artists do posters?

Jeremy: It has been a combination of either us tag teaming, us doing it separately, getting other people to do posters. I think going forward we want to hire more artists to do posters. It’s good for them.

Rogue: Did you ever think about maybe using – Oh I guess that wouldn’t work, using the previous art for the upcoming poster?

Jeffrey: Yeah, no it doesn’t work out so well.

Lauri: Well we have done a couple photo posters with Jeff’s work and we’d like to try that again.

Jeffrey: Oh yeah! I’m still remembering the American Psycho one. Just before I lost my camera.

Lauri: I liked that one!

Jeffrey: I lost my camera then. I was like, ‘well great’. I get all the pictures, I get them on my computer and two days later my camera was stolen.

Rogue: At least is was after you uploaded the pictures … could have been before.

Jeffrey: This is true. (all laugh)

Lauri: I can just imagine who ever stole your camera, going through the pictures – AHH!

Jeremy: ‘I got a serial killers camera!’

Rogue: ‘Should I be turning this over to the authorities?’ (all laugh)

Rogue: So another question I had, is that I noticed you have photography at the events as well as still life, has this always been the case? And why did you choose to have photography in addition to the sketches?

Lauri: We’ll go to Jeff

Jeffrey: Going to me?

Lauri: Well you’re the photographer. (laughs)

Jeffrey: Well I wasn’t at the start of it. For the very first session, uh, they had somebody else that I know very little about. All I know is they were there taking pictures with a point and shoot camera. And Lauri and I knew each other previously and one day she was like, ‘hey Jeff, I live down the street from you, why don’t you come take pictures at our event!’ And I’m like “sure that sounds fun.” So I show up, not really knowing what to expect and I take a lot of pictures there, and have a lot of fun doing it. At the time I was going off and taking pictures of friends bands for fun so I figured this was an extension of that.

Rogue: Do you remember what the first costume you shot with Toons on Tap was?

Jeffrey: That was your sister wasn’t it? (to Lauri) …That doesn’t sound weird at all. (laughs)

Rogue: …is that the character? Your sister? (all laugh)

Lauri: No, we had 2 models, it was my sister and her friend and they were 15. And…

Jeremy: Oh it was the club scene!

Lauri: Yeah, it was two club kids trying to sneak past the security guard.

Rogue: Nice, that would be entertaining!

Jeffrey: God that security guard was good, what was his name again?

Jeremy: Scott,

Lauri: Yeah,

Jeffrey: He has to come back! …but yeah, so after that I kept taking photos, and aside form the one time where I lost my memory card the photos have all turned out really well, and I’m very happy about that. And yeah aside from a couple times where I’ve been out of town I’ve been shooting [Toons of Tap] ever since!

Rogue: (jokingly) Yeah, I keep noticing a couple of those times

Jeffrey: I keep missing yours! I missed 2 of yours and it’s really frustrating.

Rogue: Well you got Rogue, and she’s the important character. (all laugh) So with respect to the costumes, what are some of the more intense costumes you remember? By intense I mean larger than life, super detailed, really good for drawing as opposed to a basic cat suit.

Jeremy: We could talk about Sion Irwin-Childs. (Pronounced like Shawn)

Jeffrey: Oh my god.

Toons On Tap Interview
Conan Modelled by Sion Irwin Childs
Sick Kids Fundraiser at XMG
Photography by Jeffrey Adam Danyleyko

Jeremy: He was doing nude life drawing at the Ontario Gallery and Erikos saw him and the next theme we wanted to do a Conan theme. Erikos said this guy ‘s gonna be perfect because he’s amazing at posing. We hired him. And uh - he was bald (laughs)

Jeffrey: Yup!

Jeremy: …but he has the physique of Conan so we had to put a lot of effort into his costume. We went to my grandmother’s and made a loin cloth dress for him.

Rogue: And was that your first time making a loin cloth?

Jeremy: Yeah, that was the first time, not the last.

Lauri: I’m sure there will be more loin cloths in the future.

Toons On Tap Interview
Captain Hook Modelled by Sion Irwin-Childs
Photography by Jeffrey Adam Danyleyko

Jeremy: But Sion has been through everything with us. He was Conan, the Terminator where we hired Mark Boyer to do the special effects make up on him and the last thing that he did which was an amazing costume that we created for him was Captain Hook.

Jeffrey: God that was expensive (laughs)

Jeremy: Yes, he is an elaborate model. Oh! And Film Noir, he was a gangster – but that was a suit. That was easy.

Jeffrey: I think the most intense costume was probably Dave doing Freddy Kruger. He made his own face mask out of latex. It was really creepy and he was drooling out of it because he couldn’t close his mouth properly. It was hilarious -

Toons On Tap Interview
April O'Neil Modelled by Northern Belle Rogue
Michelangelo Modelled by Rhonda Payne
Photography by Matthew Gargula

Jeremy: Hang on! The most intense costume to date is -

Lauri: Rhonda

Jeremy: Rhonda Payne as Michelangelo.

Rogue: (laughs) I was going to say – but I didn’t want to be the one to throw it out there.

Jeffrey: Right!

Lauri: And Toronto Batman’s bat suit.

Jeremy: That too.

Lauri: He did the splits in that. How? I’m impressed he could even move in that suit. And Coco Framboise was Cleopatra and she had a magnetic suit that was infinitely customizable. You said it was really heavy right? That was a difficult costume to work with.

Rogue: Now when you say magnetic, was she a burlesque dancer?

Jeffrey: Yes, it magnetically attached together. She was rearranging it in different ways and changing the way the costume looked on her. It was fantastic!

Rogue: So similarly, and you’ve already touched on this a bit with Sion, how about some of the more intense posing you can remember?

Toons On Tap Interview
Charlie Chaplin Modelled by Dante
Photography by Jeffrey Adam Danyleyko

Lauri: Dante as Charlie Chaplin!

Jeffery: Yep.

Lauri: Dante is a cosplayer, b boy, he’s part of a group like Magic Mike that does bachelorette parties… (Rogue writes down name)

Jeremy: (laughs) Gotta remember his name.

Rogue: (jokingly) underline that!

Lauri: He did several hand stands.

Jeremy: He started the night with a handstand.

Rogue: That’s ballsey!

Jeremy: Yeah! And it was like, okay this is gonna be a fun night with this guy. And he looked exactly like Charlie Chaplin too. It was great.

Jeffrey: I’d still say that Sion beats him in terms of endurance. Sion that we mentioned earlier, stood on his shoulders for five minutes straight.

Rogue: Wait, Sion stood on Dante’s shoulders?

Jeffrey: No, Sion stood on his own shoulders. Like he balanced himself on his shoulders.

Jeremy: On wood too!

Rogue: I’m trying to picture this, help me out here.

Jeffrey: He was completely upside down.

Rogue: So what was touching the ground?

Jeffrey: His shoulders. His hands are out. His legs are out. And he stayed there for five minutes.

Lauri: Sion’s got a few upside down poses he can hold for five or ten minutes.

Rogue: Nice! That must be a really nice treat for all the artists who are drawing.

Jeffrey: It’s fun for me too!

Lauri: Who else? Nic and Meredith Viner have very good posing as well.

Jeffrey: Nic is very good at facial posing, which really helps her poses. I’d say out of all the photos I get to take, she’s the one I enjoy taking photos of the most.

Jeremy: I do remember an amazing model, who was on the table with her hands out – now that’s a pose! (laughing)

Jeffrey: (jokingly) Really?! Whose that?

Rogue: (jokingly) I don’t know, I think you’d have to be crazy to try something like that. Cause if I’m not mistaken I think that was the ten minute pose too?

Jeremy: (laughing) It was. Yeah, you did that for ten minutes. (all laugh)

Rogue: Well it was cause I wanted to do it for a 5 minute pose, and things started happening so fast, and I was like, “crap, I’m at the end, there’s only a 10 minute left and I haven’t done a flying pose yet! Yeah….

Jeremy: It was awesome. It was a good end of the night.

Rogue: Upcoming, you have another model that we at Geek Girls know personally, Gillykins - if I’m not mistaken she is your next model right?

Jeffrey: Yes, we’ve worked with her several times.

Rogue: She’s doing Sailor Jupiter tomorrow, but what other costumes has she done with you guys?

All: (recounting) Huntress, Black Canary, Zatanna, Wondergirl…

Lauri: And she did her own original creation. A Victorian…

Jeremy/Jeffrey: A steampunk victorian

Rogue: Very nice. So your next session, is session number 54, when you say 54th session, have these been consecutive every month? How often do your sessions go up?

Lauri: Yep. Well, right now were on the 2nd and 4th Wed of every month. Before we were just alternating every other week. So most of the time its twice a month. Except for things like Christmas.

Jeremy: And our side sessions…

Rogue: Side sessions?

Lauri: We did one at Studio Technique in Montreal, did a private session for XMG, we did a Sick Kids fundraiser at XMG. We hosted the TAAFI Iron Pencil competition at their fundraiser last year. We also had a launch party at Round, and we had a cross over art party in May.

Rogue: That’s impressive! So if you could, would you want to travel more with Toons on Tap?

Lauri: Yes

Jeremy: Oh god yes.

Lauri: We definitely want to go back to Studio Technique and do more stuff in Montreal.

Rogue: Have you ever considered doing conventions? Or would you?

Lauri: Yeah!

Jeremy: Of course.

Jeffrey: Yeah, we just don’t really know how to weasel our way into that.

Rogue: True, for something like still life you might need to be running a panel or workshop in order to accommodate the still life. Personally speaking, if you reach out to Atomic Lollipop their whole focus is activities and interaction. So that might be a brilliant convention for you to get in with.

Jeremy: Or like Anime North – I’ve seen drawing sessions there.

Jeffrey: Yeah. They are huge on programming.

Rogue: Now, this is a personal question that I’m curious about – who came up with the art contests and models picking their favourite piece?

Lauri: Well its something that happened at Dr. Sketchy's Toronto and I used to go when they were still running, well now we’re running it, but back in the day. It was something they ended every session with, so we decided to take that to our thing. It’s a big circle.

Rogue: Yeah they’re great. Although speaking as one of the models, there is always so much great art it can be impossible to choose.

Lauri: Well, with the art contest is gives people an incentive to stay till the end. And it gives us a chance for everyone to see each other’s artwork. People do mix and mingle generally, but people are shy. And because we aren’t running it like a class it’s more of a social event, we need something at the end to help bring people together.

Rogue: How about some of the crazier prizes you’ve given away?

Jeremy: What’s the craziest one we’ve ever bought?

Lauri: I think most of the crazy ones were at Sketchy’s, I’m trying to think…

Jeffrey: Often times we hire burlesque dancers or whatnot and they’ll end up bringing tickets to their shows.

Lauri: Oh! I do know a crazy prize. Meredith, one of our models and we had a Christmas session where we gave away multiple prizes. She donated bacon Christmas tree ornaments that she made herself.

Rogue: Edible?

Jeffrey: God I wish!

Rogue: Now while you mentioned you don’t accept unsolicited models, these events are open to anyone correct?

Lauri & Jeremy: Yes.

Rogue: You don’t have to be in animation school or anything to attend?

Jeremy: We’ve had people as young as 12?

Lauri: I’d say 12 or 13

Rogue: So it is an all ages event then too?

Lauri: Yes.

Rogue: Very nice! I was not actually aware of that.

Lauri: It is all ages appropriate. I’d say most of our artists are in animation school or animation professionals, because that is who we target. But we do get people in graphic design, we’ve had architects come out, we’ve had programmers!

Toons On Tap Interview
Magician Modelled by Charlie Quinn
Iron Pencil Competition at TAAFI
Photography by Jeffrey Adam Danyleyko

Rogue: And these Wednesdays? It’s always Wednesday throughout the year, it doesn’t change during the summer or school seasons?

Lauri: Nope, doesn’t change.

Rogue: Perfect! Now for my last question, what were your personal favourite sessions?

Jeremy: Beetlejuice! We had Charlie Bonifacio. He worked on Mulan animating Mushu and Leelo and Stitch. He was doing a demonstration of his version of creating the animated character Beetlejuice from the model that night. It was interesting and fun to watch a real animator do his take.

Jeffrey: I still have his size test from the beginning up on my wall.

Rogue: That’s gotta be one of the fun things too – imagine 20 years down the road one of the animators that have been routinely coming to your events is now a big shot animator – there is a part of me as the model I hoard all the artwork man, you never know! (all laugh) And then not only will I be able to say I have their artwork,I’ll be able to say “But its ME!” (all laugh again)

Lauri: Okay I think I have mine. The American Psycho night. Because he didn’t believe me that it could be a good theme.

Jeremy: I’m like “how many poses can he do with American Psycho?”

Lauri: All of the poses! It was a personal favourite of mine, it’s one of my favourite films. And they were funny too! Like I told Dave to light a cigar with a $20 bill. (all laugh)

Jeffrey: I don’t think he used an actual $20 bill.

Rogue: I hope not!

Jeffrey: I think that one might have been my favourite too. That one was really hard for me because it was right after my camera was stolen, so I had to make do with a friend’s camera… wow this sucks all of our favourite sessions are involving the same guy.

Lauri: Dave.

Rogue: Hey, maybe it just speaks really highly of Dave!

Jeffrey: True. Actually, no, my favourite is one of Sergio's.

Lauri: Which one?

Jeffrey: His most recent one.

Toons On Tap Interview
Army of Darkness Modelled by Sergio Candanedo
Photography by Jeffrey Adam Danyleyko

Lauri: Oh, Army of Darkness.

Jeffrey: Yeah!

Jeremy: Army of Darkness? Like actual Sergio?

Jeffrey: Yeah! Cause he did so well with that and it was his first time like being in the spotlight.

Jeremy: Yeah, he did a really good job.

Lauri: And he held a difficult pose. He held the chain saw above his head for ten minutes.

Rogue: (cringing) Ooo

Jeffrey: Yeah, that was a bad decision on his part

Lauri: Another favourite was the She-Ra one with Daytona Bitch. Daytona’s a dancer and so he’s very strong. He can hold difficult poses for a long time. I find people with either dance or acting backgrounds are the best. People with dance can do the most physically demanding poses, and actors are just constantly surprising and delighting us.

Jeffrey: Well, still Daytona and Miss Conception are one of our most fun sessions.

Toons On Tap Interview
Deanna Troi Modelled by Daytona Bitch
Photography by Jeffrey Adam Danyleyko

Lauri: We had two drag queens do the Wizard of Oz. They ended the night with a pose where Daytona as the Wicked Witch was mounting Miss Conception as Dorothy. (all laugh)

Rogue: Thank you guys for taking the time to speak with me, and can I just say thank you for allowing me to do this interview in person and not over text.

All in Unison: No!!

Rogue: Most of the interviews I’ve done have been over text which is fine, and some due to geographical location but it’s nice to be able to actually sit down and have a conversation with you guys.

Jeremy: We like to do it live. We’re huge Howard Stern fans.

Rogue: Running Toons on Tap I can see where the live might come into it for you guys!

All: (laugh) yeah

Rogue: Thanks again guys!

All: Thank you!

Toons On Tap Interview
Attack of the 50 ft Art Model Modelled by Meredith Viner
Photography by Jeffrey Adam Danyleyko

Well there you have it folks, from the wonderful folks at Toons on Tap! They’re next session will be a Reboot themed session so make sure to get in when the cube drops! It will be held at Round on Wednesday, August 13 So make sure to go and check them out!

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August 07 2014

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