May 08, 2017

Behind the branding of District Condos' 139 Market: A Q&A with the artist

When developing the brand concept for District Condos’ 139 Market, we decided we wanted to tap into the artistic community that the Exchange is known for.

To capture the feeling we get when roaming through the streets of the Exchange and visiting our favourite local hangouts, we thought we would incorporate a local artist’s work inspired by the area, rooting our branding in the community we know and love.


Josiah Koppanyi’s piece is prominently featured in our marketing brochure, fills the windows of our building in the Exchange, and is displayed in various advertising.

Curious what inspired his colourful depiction of the Exchange? We sat down with Josiah over refreshments at Forth to gain some insight into his process.

Q: Tell us about where you found your inspiration for your painting in the Exchange.

A: When I made the red building, I wasn’t looking at the picture (of Albert Street) at the time, and my mind reversed it because I’m dyslexic.

It just came out so fluid and I couldn’t have made that shape any better even if I tried, so I inverted the image. You have to look into a mirror to see what part of the Exchange it is. (laughs)

I actually went pretty hard at reproducing the scene even though it’s backwards.

But since you guys are on Market, I thought it would be great to put Waterfront in the front of the scene.

Q: Tell us a little about your application of colour – which makes a huge statement in this piece.

A: There are really just four colours in the piece; I didn’t want to cloud it too much with too much colour. The colours that I was using were all just complementary to the piece.

I was inspired by the jazz I was listening to while painting it – in an arpeggio, they would go anywhere within that set. It was almost like I was making very organized, very deliberate sets of colours.

The stylization was taking what happened and polarizing it more: keeping solid colours very separate, and going in to finetune detail.

Keep the detail; keep the grit. It’s that kind of polarization of being really careful and really messy.

Q: There’s a nostalgic feel to this piece and a lot of your work. Is that deliberate?

A: I’ve always been fascinated by architecture, and also just the older way of life, the ‘50s, the ‘60s. All the architectural achievements in (the Exchange) shine so bright, more than any current structure. It's important to give a proper light on that.

There’s a nostalgic place that I was being pulled in while I was painting. It had to do with an old splash jacket I had when I was five.

Meg Ryan was part of the feeling too which is why I put her in there. (Editor's note: see if you can spot her classic coif and the ‘92 reference among the pedestrians!)

Q: In the process of filling in some landscaping features along Waterfront, you developed a pretty cool technique for patterns.

A: For one of the pedestrians in the scene, I thought ‘why don’t I comb her hair?’ Then I thought I could do the same thing with the bark in the trees. Now I have a way of doing bushes and trees and plant life that I didn’t have before. I can go as detailed as I want with it.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an artist?

A: I’m an illustrator first, but then I became a painter in high school. I decided to see how far I could go with just acrylic.

When I was sharing a (downtown pop-up space in June 2016), I had a vision of my fully developed style, but I wasn’t there yet. Meeting (Friday Knights' owner and pop-up collaborator) Eric Olek gave me vision to be an entrepreneur. It was really when I started doing art full time that… there was nothing really holding me back to develop it.

“The City of Brukner” was a landmark (piece), then the StreetSide Developments piece was a full exploration of that.


To see more of Josiah’s work, visit