The Features

Boom Times

Art with a homemade touch.

From the Christmas, 2011, issue 

(No. 27)

Photograph by Tim Oakley
Tim Oakley

When the crew of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World wanted to capture the offbeat side of Toronto featured in the film’s graphic-novel source material, they called Tim Oakley, the window designer of Sonic Boom, a new-and-used record shop located at Bloor and Bathurst streets. Given how much time the eponymous Pilgrim spends at the store, Oakley was only happy to create three customized in-store displays for the fake bands mentioned in the 2010 film.

“They didn’t come right out and say it, but they wanted it to look shitty,” says Oakley. “They were like, ‘You know, just do it how you do it.’”

Pausing to look at Sonic Boom’s window is like asking your much more with-it friend what you should listen to. You won’t find any shrines to Beyoncé here; rather, Oakley charmingly recreates the album art of indie darlings such as Sufjan Stevens and Blonde Redhead, as well as hometown heroes like Hooded Fang and Fucked Up.

Oakley had no formal artistic training when he casually expanded his store-clerk duties in 2005. For his first project, Oakley gathered old oscillators and speakers from throughout the store, piling them up to create the stone tower depicted on the Chemical Brothers’ Push the Button album.

Keeping to a loose schedule of one display every six to eight weeks, Oakley has lost count of how many he’s created. He’ll soon have an even harder time keeping track. After being ousted from its Bloor Street location this summer to make way for a Dollarama store, Oakley is now twice as busy creating windows for Sonic Boom’s two new locations: the relocated flagship, in the nearby Honest Ed’s, and a spinoff in Kensington Market. “I almost have to step up my game,” he says. “It’s so artistic around here.”

Photograph by Tim Oakley Photograph by Tim Oakley Photograph by Tim Oakley Photograph by Tim Oakley