Toronto Local: Nadia Lloyd turns art into impact with BLM, Raptors, and masks

Nadia Lloyd is a Toronto artist and designer, best known for her masks and large abstract graffiti pieces. Most recently, Nadia's face masks received recognition, being worn by the Toronto Raptors and Toronto's Mayor, John Tory. Nadia uses her art to inspire but also to drive change. Her special Black Lives Matter face mask, worn by Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse, was just delivered to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). At the ROM, it will be a part of a new and permanent COVID19 Face Mask Exhibit, which is set to open later in 2021. Nadia's BLM mask helped her raisde $7,100.00 for Black Lives Matter Toronto.

Nadia's masks and art can be found everywhere from on the faces of prominent Torontonians to installations in Toronto spaces. She shares what it takes to be an artist in Toronto and how you can put yourself and your creations out there to build a successful business.

Take chances! Explore your art and have fun.
Nadia Lloyd on the cover of the Toronto Star


Hey Nadia! Thanks for doing this interview. How did you get into art - where did your journey begin?

I bought a painting at Winners in 2010. The painting was a landscape abstract and I decided I wanted two of them, but could not find a second piece. My husband at the time suggested that I replicate it. He said, “You’re creative, I think you’d do well."

He ended up buying me a beginner set of paints, brushes, and canvases. I tried replicating the original piece from Winners and, of course, it was impossible! But in the process of dabbling with paints, I became obsessed with the process.

What made you decide to turn your art into a business?

I want to do work that I am passionate about. That is the only way that I can remain happy in life.

What is your favourite piece or custom work you’ve ever created?

As far as my art, my abstract graffiti piece. This was the first time I felt like I had nailed graffiti!

As far as my designs, the Black Lives Matter mask I designed with my son. The Raptors wear our BLM mask and that has allowed my son and I to raise over $7,000.00 for BLM Toronto.

Toronto artist Nadia Lloyd's abstract graffiti piece

How do you decide which art piece to do next? What inspires you?

I only paint when I feel an urge to. That is how I create my best pieces and best work. The process cannot be controlled or pushed. It has to happen organically.

What is it like being an artist in Toronto?

I feel there are a lot of opportunities and support from the Toronto community. You can’t sit and wait for opportunities to come knocking at your door, though - you have to go get your opportunities.

Talk about your partnership with the Raptors - how can other artists get their creations into the hands of people who inspire them?

You can’t be scared of asking your network to help you get to the resources you want and need! You also can’t be shy to dream big! When the idea came to reach the Raptors, I went for it full tilt and asked my network to help me get in touch with them. Within two hours, I had heard from Roberta Nurse and the rest is history.

Toronto Raptors' Nick Nurse wearing Nadia Lloyd's BLM mask

John Tory recently wore your Toronto face mask and your Pride face mask - what was that experience like?

It was incredible and still is! John Tory wears my masks daily. He came to meet me last June to tell me how much he loves my work and how he plans to support me. He has kept his promise.

You founded the Toronto Art Crawl - what goes into planning that event and why was it important to you to start this event?

Toronto Art Crawl (TAC) has hosted 5-7 large exhibits featuring 60-120 artists every year since 2013. It gives artists a platform to show and sell their art so they can make a living so they can keep creating. It’s imperative to their success.

How has the pandemic shaped your art business and the industry around art in general?

The pandemic really forced creatives to think outside the box and learn to use modern technology to stay alive and prosper.

How can other artists and entrepreneurs get their products into shops like Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)?

The AGO has an online form on their website so you can submit your work for review!

What does your art business look like when you’ve achieved all your goals and dreams for it?

I celebrate my accomplishments daily, but I don’t let it go to my head or make me feel as though I've made it. If anything, it’s given me the courage to realize my potential and to trust my instincts. This encourages me to keep using my voice to create positive change in the world.

<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">It’s been a busy 12 months of mask making! Here’s the collection 🤓 <a href="https://t.co/ODt0ask5bC">pic.twitter.com/ODt0ask5bC</a></p>&mdash; Nadia Lloyd (@NadialloydTO) <a href="https://twitter.com/NadialloydTO/status/1376924656976990208?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 30, 2021</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Nadia Lloyd's face masks

Why did you choose to build your website on Shopify?

Shopify is a one stop shop and makes it so easy for me, a total technophobe, to pretend I am an expert! I love how easy it is for me to keep track of my inventory, read analytics, fulfill orders, update the look - anything.

Any other tech or online tools that helped with growth you would point other entrepreneurs towards?

Paypal! Paypal has been imperative in helping me manage my business, such as the accounting and bookkeeping, since 2013.

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How can other people become an artist and entrepreneur, like you?

Take chances! Explore your art and have fun. Share your art with others to bring some sunshine into their lives! Do you. Then you can figure out ways to monetize your passion.

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Thank you to Nadia Lloyd for sharing the experience of creating art that supports BLM, provides masks during the pandemic, and represents many different aspects of Toronto. Nadia discussed how important it is to ask your network to bridge connections for you so you can get your work into the hands of those you aspire to work with. Beyond that, she also shares how you can make an impact with your business and how she raised over $7000 for BLM with a mask she designed with her son. Follow Nadia Lloyd on Instagram to see the newest pieces she creates plus stay up-to-date with Nadia's latest offers!

Samantha Lloyd

Samantha Lloyd is the co-founder and CEO of Metaranx.