BB Video: Canadian Graffiti Artist Documentary "Roadsworth"

Derek Bledsoe, Boing Boing Video producer, is blogging daily Boing Boing Video episodes while Xeni's on the road in Africa.

In today's Boing Boing Video episode, we present an excerpt from the National Film Board of Canada feature "Roadsworth: Crossing the Line" a documentary which follows the work of Canadian street artist Peter Gibson, aka Roadsworth.

Gibson integrates provocative art with government traffic signage, questioning the ownership of public space.

In 2001, he began his street painting campaign to question car culture, and encourage his neighbors to share the road with fellow bicyclists. What began as a sort of street safety PSA evolved into an illegal art campaign spanning almost 3 years -- until Gibson was finally caught, with paint-stained hands, and charged with 53 counts of "mischief."

While many of the street scenes he painted may long since have been painted over, the legend of Roadsworth lives on through this film.

For those of you attending the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas next week, you can watch the whole feature in entirety on Saturday, March 14th, at The Hideout. Details here.

Flash video embed above, click "full" icon inside the player to view it large. You can download the MP4 here. Our YouTube channel is here, you can subscribe to our daily video podcast on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there's a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are the archives for Boing Boing Video.

(Special thanks to Boing Boing Video's hosting and publishing provider Episodic.)


  1. I saw this film at Concordia University in Montreal, Roadsworth’s home city and I found it really inspiring. It made me want to go out and create. Good call posting this Boing Boing.

  2. I hate grafitti. It’s defacing private property.
    But public property? With images that are inoffensive? He is a co-owner… yet we don’t want every shmuck doing it. Solution?

    I was driving the PCH Sunday. At a red light in O’side I noticed that in each of the four lanes they had stenciled a big ‘Historic Highway 101’ logo.

    I suggest this guy start a business doing this to beautify townships with his whimsical art.

    Nevermind- maybe I should do that!

  3. Well that didn’t take long – comment #1, words #1-3: “I hate graffiti”. Great.

    You know, often private property defaces public property – the public property (bicycle trail, view, air, acoustic space) I use each day to get to work is defaced by the surrounding private property – great ugly dingy slabs of light industrial bunkers, warehouses, and a cement yard.

    Any attempt to de-uglify that public space by painting on the private property, I welcome.

  4. I was about to make a similar comment to Troofseeker above. I actually live in some of the neighborhoods depicted in the documentary (Mille-End in Montreal), and still see worn-out pieces of the artist in the documentary (I think) on the sidewalks. I kinda like it, certainly don’t mind it.

    But like Trofseeker, I ask, how should we – as citizens of the borough – react? All art needs to be judged on its own; we can’t allow carte blanche to any kid with a spraycan, this would uglify quickly and more importantly, confuse or destroy traffic indicators (lines, arrows, etc) that are vital to us pedestrians and bicyclists. Yet if done well it’s cool and doesn’t interfere.

    So, if I were a city official, I would figure the best strategy might be to decry and condemn these acts of “vandalism” but not actually do anything about it unless it becomes a problem. Graffiti artists (and non-artists) would quickly learn the boundaries and the whole thing would settle into some sort of reasonable equilibrium with a few kids being harassed now and then, a few residents complaining every now and then, politicians (knowingly) spouting hot air all the time and acting on it very rarely.

    Not that I’m saying thats what might be happening though, OK?

  5. Mr. Frog, I really need to qualify.
    I don’t hate grafitti. I’ve seen some that is stunningly beautiful and really brightens the area. There was a big cement storm drain nearby that was filled with it, and it was beautiful, until the city covered it in dismal gray.

    I hate the concept of vandals altering the appearance of another person’s personal property without permission.

    I love what this guy is doing, and if he wants to come do it here, he can stay at my house. My solution to the issue in Montreal is to hire the guy, not jail him.

  6. I saw this documentary in Vancouver a few months ago. It is FANTASTIC.

    The irony of the whole film is that he HAS gone from underground street artist to actually being commissioned by the city to do work!!!!

    big ups to Alan Kohl the director!

Comments are closed.