Spade On The Street – Benjamin Tillmann, Visual FX Artist

The beauty and wonder of films and animation can take you on adventures that go well beyond a story; the composition and construction of the visuals behind what is on the big screen are obviously paramount in the delivery of a motion picture, and should evoke a ubiquitous sense of being very much a part of the unfolding feature. They are an escape from the redundancy of life. Film is a beloved, magical art that is ever evolving, always expanding with new innovations and technology, and continues to capture humanity’s heart after decades of uncanny and spellbinding amelioration.

I give credit to Ben Tillmann on being what I like to call an expert on the subject. Truth be told, I also give him credit for being one of the most multi talented and adventurous individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. A few of his credentials include lighting and composition for numerous animated films (a personal favorite of mine being the Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov produced animated film 9). And whether it’s racing competitively with the Canadian Dragons in Tanjong Beach, Sentosa, to indulging in his penchants for travel and photography, he is an inspiring person who truly is living life to the fullest, utilizing his incredible gifts, and following his dreams. After not seeing him for over a year, I was lucky to be able to spend a day with him during his current visit to Toronto this week, allowing for not only the occasion to catch up with the person who I have affectionately coined my ‘Pen Pal’ –a catch up inevitably includes a fair bit of fun, an equally fair amount of eating, and a venture to the cinema–, but also allowing for the opportunity to relay to all you Nina Spade Studio Fans his Spade On The Street segment.

Thank you Ben for your contribution to the Spade Blog. Continue to inspire those you encounter in life with your vivacious and artistic spirit.

Q: What is most rewarding about your craft?

BT: “– Entertaining and transporting people to other worlds — even if only for a few hours — and possibly even inspiring them in the process if I’m lucky —

…And that I am constantly learning and becoming better at what I do on a daily basis.
……And that I get to use both sides of my brain.

Okay, there are lots of reasons why I do what I do for a living. Most of it has to do with the fact that I’m still a kid at heart and even though I’m not telling my own stories, or in complete creative control of the projects I work on, I do get to be part of a team that creates worlds. Worlds which have the potential to inspire the imagination of children, both young and old, on a daily basis, in all corners of the earth. It can be pretty staggering and humbling when I actually sit down and think about it.

I also get to work with bleeding edge technology. So bleeding edge that when I’m not troubleshooting tools/proprietary software designed by our studio, I’m testing the possibilities of new tools from other companies months before they’ll hit the general population. It forces me to constantly be evolving as an artist and pushes me to be better today than I was yesterday and even better tomorrow. It also has me constantly switching between left and right brain thinking so I don’t have to abandon the technical and problem solving side of life which I get a kick out of to fully pursue my artistic dreams.

Now would probably be a good time to mention that I’m a visual fx artist (lighting TD/compositor/surfacing artist) for ILM/LucasFilm working in their feature division.

— Capturing the beauty in a split second of time before it’s gone forever —

These days, when I’m not at work, I’m most passionate about my photography. Especially when I’m on vacation. I don’t buy souvenirs. They don’t actually represent the emotions I’m feeling or the emotions of the location I’m in. You can’t reduce a person or a sunset or an ancient buddhist temple down to a piece of plastic. It’s just not possible. Especially in Asia where every market seems to have the exact same souvenirs on display outside of stand after stand after stand. Even a photograph doesn’t capture the true beauty of the moment, but at least it can capture a small taste of what I was feeling or what my subject was going through at that exact point in time. And I’m getting better with each picture I take too.  Maybe one day I’ll actually be able to snap a photo and think to myself, ‘yes, this is the entire moment, encapsulated in a single frame of time’.

(*cough* shameless self advertising *cough*)

— Escaping for a moment —

Moving to Singapore forced me to quit my band and, in an instant, leave that entire world behind me. It was one of the hardest things I had to do when I moved out here  Music is an intricate part of my life and has been for as long as I can remember. I have no idea how old I was when my parents signed me up for piano lessons, but I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t play. Although I no longer get the adrenaline kick I got from entertaining a room full of strangers — or an empty room with a single person, depending on the night — I still play bass and guitar several times a month, usually after a long day at work, or during a rare lull on weekends, to escape from whatever is currently holding me down in reality. Losing myself to rhythm and chords and sound and not having to think, but rather just do is almost more rewarding than any of my other artistic releases. Plus, I’ll occasionally be lucky enough to have a friend or two within earshot that I get to entertain as a small added bonus.

— Seeing my thoughts expressed on the page —

Which is evident by how much I’ve already written. I started writing when I moved to Singapore as a one way conversation with my family and friends back home. That way they could go through the experience with me even though they weren’t experiencing it themselves. It’s almost been 3 years now and I still write almost every night. I’d like to think I’ve gotten better, and that I actually have followers on tumblr leads me to believe I’m not half bad. Although I really don’t do it for anyone other than myself. It is totally 100% self serving and I’m okay with that.  It’s actually gotten to the point where I’m legitimately coming up with ideas for screenplays and/or novels, but that would require putting the blog on hold…”


Spade On The Street – Tanios Nims, Abstract Spray Paint Artist

If you want to bask in the spectral dance of colour and light of far off galaxies and solar systems, you need not a telescope should this man happen to be around. Tanios (Tony) Nims, an Abstract Artist from Vaughan Ontario, has a beatnik approach and niche medium to expressing his creative enthusiasm; creating extraterrestrial worlds with the use of spray paint.

He is one of the many artists featured in this summer’s ART BEAT, and I’ve had the pleasure of watching him captivate and hypnotize surrounding large audiences as he strokes aerosol cans of chroma, metallics, and darkness across a canvas with speed and precision. It is a pantomime of macrocosm creation, resulting in wide-eyed onlookers and BEAUTIFUL far-away worlds that have now been pulled down to earth by his alchemic skill. After seeing him work, I absolutely had to tell the world about his magic, and I am privileged to be able to share a little bit about him with you all today.

Q: What is most rewarding about your craft?

TN: “There are several things I find rewarding about my paintings, internally and externally.
Internally, I find it pleasing how one can manipulate and control the excursion of millions and millions of paint particles out of a can to create a larger picture. This is what constantly happens in the universe, billions of stars spewing out to form a larger picture- like our MIlky Way, or any other beautiful galaxy. I also find it satisfying that the unlimited amount of possibilities for colors, sizes and atmospheres portrayed in my paintings reflect the unlimited amount of possibilities for different worlds in our universe. Considering almost every star in the sky has multiple planets rotating around them, evolution and planetary circumstances of another world, in another galaxy, could be accurately depicted in one of my paintings unintentionally.
Externally, explaining my concepts to people is a rewarding matter, because there are many people who don’t really know or understand how vast and infinite the universe truly is, but are trapped and blind in their own little world of Earth- 1 out of 8 planets, circling 1 out of billions of stars, circling 1 out of billions of galaxies. The unique and technical process I use to make this art is very inspirational to people and I enjoy sharing it because it demonstrates the classical approach to most crafts in life- practice makes perfect. I discovered this craft browsing YouTube and was blown away from the skill and speed street artists have in cities across the world. I wanted to reach their level, but I knew I had to start from scratch, so I went out and bought a couple spray cans. Soon enough, I found myself spending hundreds of dollars on paint and practicing day and night.”
“My name is Tanios Nims and I was born 18 years ago in Beirut, Lebanon. I was raised in Canada ever since I was 2 and have been engaging in creativity since then. Creating things out of Lego, K’nex and PlayDoh was my childhood. I’ve been to a couple art schools in my elementary years, including Woodbridge Art School and Gallery, and KLIM School of Art. I appreciate these two schools for teaching my basic techniques of art and exposing me to new mediums. I can also appreciate the 4 years of taking art at St.Jean de Brebeuf Highschool taught by one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Gidaro. I will treasure my sketchbooks from my youth for the rest of my life.”
Instagram: SprayTheCosmos

Spade On The Street – Jasmine Virginia, Frontwoman of the Prog-Rock band, Polarity

 From her silver-belled vocals, her profoundly wise and charismatic soul, and all of the gold in between, there isn’t a single thing you couldn’t adore about this rock vixen.

I had the utmost pleasure of meeting miss Jasmine Virginia in 2008 when I was invited to a show in Mississauga where her and her four bandmates (Mike Smith – Bass, Mike Sitana – Guitar, Jason Swait – Guitar, and Eric Zimmermann – Drums/Percussion) were performing that evening. Their talent is truly unprecedented, unique, raw, and undoubtedly rocks down to the bone.

I am honored to call her my dear friend. She is an inspiration, and spreads light, love, wisdom, and grace wherever she goes. She has a natural talent for making the world a better place with her contagious positivist, and uplifting spirit.

Q: What is most rewarding about your craft?

JV:  “Writing songs, singing and performing.

Writing songs breathes melody into the poetry of my soul. The melody then explores an ever changing landscape of chugging guitars, intricate rhythms and ethereal music weaving it’s way around the soundscapes giving voice to the depth and texture of the human experience.  My intention when writing is to both expose my most raw honesties, fears, dreams and truths as well as to release my most empowering of revelations, all in hopes of providing others a relatable voice that helps them to transcend their own suffering. It’s a healing give-and-take I’ve learned my soul can’t live without.
Singing for me is a direct line of communication to my highest divine spirit. It’s an unbelievable meditative release of energy. When singing, you can only focus on the moment and when in the flow, I’m aligned with something higher; I’m both my most vulnerable and powerful self and it’s completely exhilarating. Singing in public use to be my biggest fear and has now become one of my empowering actions and greatest joys.
Performing, because I’m on stage with four of my best friends, having the time of my life. It’s the pinnacle point of years of practice and writing, hours, months and days in our jam room and many nights of dreaming. We aspire to give our audience the chance to suspend their worries, fears and doubts for the period of our set as we lay it all out on the stage for them. We want our audience to leave a Polarity show with an experience they won’t soon forget and some residual electric energy that made them feel something deeply… in a world where often times we’re encouraged to feel numb, we feel blessed to be in a position to make people feel.

The most humbling aspect of being a musician/vocalist is having listeners reach out to POLARITY or myself to let us know we’ve impacted their life in a positive way. It’s the icing to my life.


Bit about myself, where the band originated, album progress, some hobbies, interests?
I’ve been sining for as along as I can remember and founded POLARITY with the guys in 2008. We’re currently in studio recording a beefy new album with twelve songs which we all feel is the cumulative work of seven years as a band. We’re amped to have grammy winning Producer David Bottrill overseeing the project as well as having our long time friend Chris Creglia producing the album out of DNA recording studios. Upon the albums release we’ll be touring the world and rocking audiences around the globe. You can check out our two other albums on our website if you’re unfamiliar with us.
I also recently founded the website ; where I aspire to make it a hub of embracing life itself as a creative expression. As it develops you’ll find everything from healthy eating and workout ideas to poetry, art, and blogs from fellow health enthusiast friends and artists I admire.

May we all continue to embrace creativity as a means to making our life sparkle. 🙂

Spade On The Street!

Good Afternoon Nina Spade Studio Fans!

Let me share with you my newest blog project, Spade On The Street.

I will be posting some fantastic segments in collaboration with young (up-and coming & established) artists, professionals, entrepreneurs, and everyday big-thinkers who share the same vision about making the world a better place through their craft.

I will be recruiting the likes of musicians, performance artists, experts on healthy living, small business owners, photographers, visual artists… maybe even some fellow jewelry artisans… and many more!

Each young professional will receive their very own Nina Spade Studio hand-crafted piece to keep as their own in an effort to support cross promotion. Included in each segment will be a small bio, as well as contact info and upcoming projects, and a golden question;

What is most rewarding about you craft?

The goal is to not only spread the word about these exceptionally outstanding and admirable individuals, but to also inspire and to motivate other young artists and professional to follow their dreams and achieve their independent aspirations.

I am so thrilled to have already received several submissions, and am so excited to begin posting about the incredible people I’ve met on my own journey, and for those to come in the future. Inspiring art, creativity, professionalism, and fun is the ultimate goal of this project, and as an independent artist, I am a firm believer in supporting others in the artistic and small business community.

Those of you who are interested in participating in my Spade On The Street segment, please feel free to make a submission to

Can’t wait to spread the love!

Keep locked in for my first Spade On The Street segment, coming real soon!
Have a wonderful weekend!

Spade On The Street