Todd McLellan


Written by Blair Mishleau
21 Monday 21st March 2011

Your website's homepage says "It all started from a kindergarten finger painting class." Is that true? Have you really been an artist for that long? 

I have been interested in creating for that long.  I was always into the arts throughout grade school and then realized it was something I could do as a career. At the time I was doing anything from woodworking to airbrush art. My airbrush and drawing portfolio is what got me into art college. 

Disassembly behind the scenes from Todd McLellan on Vimeo.

Have you been taking stuff apart for a long time? What's the first object you have a clear memory of disassembling?

For as long as I can remember. I remember 'disassembling' toy cars with a hammer as a kid, I since have refined the technique. My parents were a big help with that, they were both hands on in their jobs. I used to take apart many electronic devices, one that sticks out in my head is an old eight-track cassette deck when I was around eight. I knew how to solder quite well. 

Your work is pretty spread out- from vehicle photography, places, machinery, commercial, etc. Which do you enjoy most?

I love objects and design, it would be really hard to choose just one. What I enjoy is the problem solving, each one of those subjects offers a problem to solve. If I did have to choose just one I would choose vehicle photography / motion.

Todd's new work invovles disassembling an object to its most simple compents.

Your images of machines seemingly exploding are definitely my favourite. How do you achieve such an effect? Is it as simple as tossing the pieces in the air and grabbing a photo? Or are they just all laid out on a white background? I'm obviously intrigued! 

The images are dropped from the sky and captured in frame. What was hard was placing the pieces on the platform that they would fall from. There were many attempts to capture the pieces how I saw them in my mind. Piece A might fall faster than piece B but I wanted piece A to be above piece B in frame, so we had to adjust accordingly and drop again. In all the shots, both laid out and falling, I really wanted to keep track of all the pieces and make sure none were lost. 

Which has been your favourite contraption to take apart?

I would say the typewriter, but the camera comes in a close second. I had no idea how many parts those both offered.

You've done commercial work as well. Is that where you make your bread and butter?

Commercial work provides me with the opportunity to create my personal work.  

Getting everything just right in a falling shot takes many tries, says Todd.

Where'd you get the things you disassemble? Are they junk or still functional when you dissect them?

I collected them from various places, such as garage sales, thrift shops, and even sidewalks on garbage day. They all worked and I've used some of them personally for a while. I loved the flip clock and am still on the lookout for another. The wind up clock I re-assembled and installed modern continuous sweep movement insert.  

The hardest part about this photo shoot: finding all the pieces after they've fallen.

Do you have any dream devices you'd love to make art with? Anything huge?

While sitting on a Toronto rail streetcar one day I thought of taking it apart. Every piece had a bolt or screw in it and everything was made with stainless steel. I think it would be absolutely beautiful. 

See more of Todd McLellan's work at

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