At 14 years old, Skylar Eyre is already an old hand when it comes to art. Pencil and paper, ink and paper, ink and skin — it’s all just a natural progression of a talent that emerged at an early age.
“I’ve grown up with it,” he said. “I started when I was about two, just drawing and scribbling, and it kind of evolved from there.”
That eventually led to Skylar apprenticing with his father, Gerry, a tattoo artist, and he’s already done five.
“It’s totally different than drawing or even pen and ink because you’re actually using a machine for it,” he said. “It’s almost like working with a Dreml tool, except it’s ink and skin.”
But he was recently met with a new challenge: painting a mural in the children’s area — as well as an outdoor logo — at the new Black Bear Books location at 1229 Canyon St.
Previously, Skylar had done only one small canvas painting when he was 10 years old. Fortunately, his dad majored in painting, so inspiration was readily available.
“Our walls are filled with his paintings,” Skylar said. “So that was a big help.”
And a little farther from home, he drew on the styles of Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dali and Alphonse Mucha when creating the mural, which features a black bear reading a book while sitting next to a pile of books and a honey pot under a tree bearing pears and cherries.
“I had to get into a different mindset with colours and contrast and stuff to make it work so that it wasn’t bland,” Skylar said.
And bland it isn’t, with bright colours well suited to the children’s play area it overlooks — so much so that owner Paula Carpenter was thrilled with Skylar’s initial design, which actually ended up being the final design.
“She loved it and was like, ‘Yeah, you definitely have to do this,’ ” Skylar said.
Skylar worked on the mural from early May through early July, and the project went much faster once the Prince Charles Secondary School student — who enters Grade 10 next month and gets high marks in art class — finished school for the year, giving him more time to paint.
The hard work paid off — it adds a colourful touch to the new bookstore, and gives Skylar a great piece to add to his portfolio.
“This was just a really big learning experience for me, and I’m really happy with how it turned out,” he said.