Initiated by AGAME (the Mile-End Business Association) with members on a mission to support local business, community & positive evolution of the neighbourhood we love.

Dev by Barkas. Design by Wedge. Creative Direction by Sarah Di Domenico.

Hand Sewn Heads

Ian Langohr makes fun, giant, surreal mascot heads for a living. What are you doing with your life?

#hsh4 #hsh3 #hsh2 #hsh789 #hsh12 #hsh111 #hsh9 #hsh8 #hsh7 #hsh6 #hsh5Hi Ian!
How does a person get into making giant heads?

I studied sculpture at OCAD (Ontario College of Art & Design) and first got into wood and metal fabrication. In the wood class we’d have to whittle pieces of wood and I’d make little monster heads and figures most of the time. A friend of mine started working at a mascot shop and they were looking to hire. The job basically had me creating animal and human heads out of foam. I did the job for about a year and a half, fresh out of school. It was hard to survive in Toronto. I met a woman, and moved with her to Montréal. From then I started a freelance career. My first giant head was a skull mask I made for fun for Halloween. I started making more and getting attention for them, gradually picking up commissions from artists and musicians.

What are you doing now?

I’m trying to build a repertoire of interactive sculptures. Mascot puzzles. In the style and tradition of a mascots but something with a more surrealist feel to it.

“I was becoming bored doing regular mascot heads and thought about how I could make them interactive.”

Velcro came to mind as a component to allow things to be put together. Participants can approach them as a game or as a giant mascot costume. They also look like giant surrealistic toys.

Introduce us to three of your heads.

Sure! This one I call Face-à-Face because there are two faces. It is based off Mr. Potato Head. You can customize the faces using a variety of interchangeable features.

Cat is a costume I made to use at the Zombie Walk at Place des Arts. It’s based on a former cat of mine, except it has a zombified twist; brains spilling out of the back and a missing eye. I like the morbid-cute kind of aesthetic.

This is a self-portrait of me with a bullet hole in my head and an explosion of colour. It was channeling taking your blues and making something creative out of it.

What’s one of your favourite commissioned pieces?

The work I’ve done with Laurence Baz Morais for Klô Pelgag’s shows has been some of my favourite. They brainstorm concepts that are fun and visually stunning. We made mascot heads of Beethoven and Michael Jordan for a music video and one of Klô herself, for her live shows, as well as giant fruit costumes for her bandmates to wear. Last year we made an interactive game with 60 objects made out of velcro. She and her bandmates wore velcro suits and they’d stick on the objects as they played. A pizza, a joystick, a rocket, and the head of Gucci Mane were just some of the objects I made.

What’s another obsession besides giant heads?

I love to play the drums. I’m tapping constantly on everything, probably to the annoyance of others. It keeps me sane and is the one of the few physical activities I do.

Who/where do you look to for inspiration?

All over really. I follow a lot of artists and art blogs on social media. Some of my favourite locals are En Masse and Waxhead. Their character designs can be wild! Hi Fructose and Juxtapoz Magazine tend to feature really influential artists. Adult Swim Cartoons have fun colourful characters. I’ve been particularly interested in Rick and Morty as of late. Nature documentaries. Deep sea creatures. Horror and sci-fi films.

What are your favourite spots around Mile-End?

Ta Chido. The owner is a friend and an avid toy collector. The restaurant is filled with toys! I had all of my masks on display there and they all came back smelling like tacos. Not a bad thing! His place is so inspiring and they have the best molé and micheladas. Obviously St-Viateur Bagel (if they need a giant bagel mascot, look no further!). Maybe it’s not very exciting but I do spend a lot of time at Supermarché PA. Kem Coba and Chez Guillaume are great for satisfying a sweet tooth. Monastiraki is cool too. Sort of a mix of an oddities place, a gallery, and a shop. I spend a lot of my time at parc Lhasa where Van Horne starts turning and splits off into the viaduc. My girlfriend, kid and I play there a lot. It’s a substitute for a backyard.

What’s your relationship like with the creative community in Mile-End?

It sort of happened by accident. My current girlfriend and I moved into her dad’s apartment in the hood when he left it. I found a studio not too far from there on av. De Gaspé. That area is a creative hub of sorts. Both on Casgrain and De Gaspé just south of St-Viateur. Some of the directors and production houses I work with are based there. I’ve also done some events with RuePublique and Articule. The latter has an event called Rotation! Rotation! which involves a garage sale in the gallery and activities in alley.

What would a mascot for Mile-End look like?

If I made a Mile-End inspired piece? Oh wow … that’s a great question … maybe a 3D collage of significant markers in the neighbourhood: the water tower on Van Horne, a bagel (representing St-Viateur and Fairmount to be fair), a bird cage from Tammy the flower lady’s shop, the synagogue on St-Viateur, etc. Maybe make an interactive sculpture out of those things. It would be interesting to create an activity and see what defines the neighbourhood.

Ian's M-E

Story & Editing by Sarah Di Domenico
Photography by Wedge
Illustration by Mathieu Dionne