Saturday 22 July 2017

Meet Jason Tocewicz: The artistic barista adding fun to his customers' coffee

By Edward Dracott

We caught up with the coffee cup maestro.

Having your name written on your coffee cup is common practice, but Jason Tocewicz has taken it to a whole new level.

The Canadian barista-come-cartoonist, based in Toronto’s Scarborough district, is a master of cup art. He started out by using the 30 seconds to a minute whilst a coffee is prepared to create caricatures of his customers, something he still does to this day – after a decade at Starbucks.

Now his exquisite art has an online following, and drawn attention from national and international news outlets. We caught up with him.

How did it all start?

“I started drawing on Starbucks cups years ago before we started writing names on cups as a common practice. Sometimes customers would accidentally pick up the wrong orders, so I began drawing simple faces on the cups or even cute little animals on the paper bags.

“It actually helped and people thought it was cute and funny, so I kept doing it.”

What reaction do the cups get?

“The response I get from customers is amazingly positive. In the end, it’s more about the act of doing something nice for someone and hoping it makes them smile.

“If they also like the art and keep the cup, which some of my regular customers do, then that’s awesome! I’ve had some customers come back and let me know how it completely turned their day around in the best way, which is really great to hear.”

Has your style changed?

“It’s not so much the style changing as it is the speed and my confidence.

“I have a certificate in Visual Arts and am alumni of Ty Templeton’s Comic Book Bootcamp here in Toronto. I find it hard to find time to draw for myself so I do it on cups while I can behind the bar and at work on breaks when I have the time.”

How do you draw your caricatures?

“I start every caricature with simple shapes. The quick sketches I do of customers while they’re ordering are fast and cute.

“I don’t have a lot of time to do anything detailed unless I’m on break, so a lot of the quick drawing is repetitive, but I change the hair or maybe add something notable like a scarf or sunglasses.”

“It’s fun enough to make customers recognise that, ‘hey, it’s me!’”

What’s your favourite thing to draw?

“I love drawing familiar characters that make customers smile, especially Groot (from Guardians of the Galaxy).

“Pikachu, Minions and Batman are common customer requests too!”

What plans do you have for the future?

“I’ve been pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and want to create more original content in my own style – share even more of my personality with our customers who come in.

“Outside of the cups, I’m also going to start working on my own web comics. It’s been years and I’ve finally got the motivation I needed to do it.”

You can see more of Jason’s captivating cups on his Instagram page, or by following him on Twitter.

His nickname is Mustachio – we’ll leave you to guess why.

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