Yonge + St. Clair

September 8, 2017

A Conversation with Yonge + St. Clair Store Designer Lucas Young

In anticipation of the September 21 launch of the Yonge + St. Clair Store we sat down with Toronto artist Lucas Young, who designed the neighbourhood-centric merch for the project. Here’s our conversation.

Yonge + St. Clair: A lot of your work blends typography and illustration. How did this aesthetic develop?

Lucas Young: I went to design school at York University and Sheridan College. That’s where I started to establish my aesthetic. I focus a lot on typography and I’ve always had a big interest in art. Illustration is something I’ve pursued on my own, I didn’t formally go to school for it, but it’s been an extension of my design and typography work. I focus a lot on illustrative typography and my style developed out of that. I’ve always had a strong black and white aesthetic, which is why a lot of my designs are heavy mono-lined stuff. There is a fusion of typography and illustration in my style, which has kind of become my signature thing.

Does your interest in typography date back to design school?

I’ve always been fascinated by it. I was really into graffiti in my teen years. Through design school I was able to turn that into a more tangible practice. Coincidentally, that was around the time hand lettering emerged in the market. A lot of companies were looking for expressive type work, something that feels more catered than the everyday message.

When you began working on the Yonge + St. Clair project, what was the process? Where did you start?

A lot of it starts from just getting a sense of what the project will be, just visiting the area itself. I spent time standing at the intersection of Yonge + St. Clair, doing a little bit of people watching and a little bit of exploration to get a feel for the neighborhood. I used to live at St. Clair and Avenue for a period of time, so I have a bit of familiarity with the area. From there you kind of take cues and think about how you can turn your ideas into artwork. I looked at transit, architecture, food – just the lifestyle of the area – things like yoga, the gym. You take all these elements and interpret them in different ways, whether
through illustration or type or both. And then at the end of it all you try to think about what people will actually wear.

How does the current neighbourhood compare to the Yonge + St. Clair you lived at?

It’s definitely on the come up. It seems like a younger work force is coming in, sort of like a new business area. There seems to be a lot more young professionals. I don’t want to offend anyone, but Yonge + St. Clair is not the old, blue suit and tie crowd anymore. They might be wearing a suit and tie, but they’re riding a bike, or skateboarding to work. You’re seeing a younger crowd and more culture emerging in the area, with more bars and restaurants. It seems to be generating a younger lifestyle in the area, which is

Did that influence your designs? Were you interpreting that youthful energy?

For sure. I think the new Yonge + St. Clair brand, with the bright colours, is really infusing a sense of youthfulness into the area. At the same time, I wanted to introduce some nostalgia in some of the designs for the residents that have been in the area for a while. Youthfulness isn’t always tied to age. It’s about an energy that is present in the neighbourhood.

Regarding this project specifically, what does success look like?

Validation would come through neighbourhood residents connecting with the designs. We’re really trying to speak to Yonge + St. Clair and the local residents are the ones who are going to gauge how authentic our interpretation is. I think it would be really interesting to see people from the area adopting these designs and supporting them. It would be really exciting and gratifying on my part.

Thanks, Lucas!

The Yonge + St. Clair Store is open 11am to 8pm Thursdays and Fridays and 12 noon to 6pm Saturdays, September 21 to 30 at 1470 Yonge St.

Learn more about Lucas here: