Tagging in: How the iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and Instagram built a career from graffiti

Arturo "Duro the Third" Parada is confident. He's a big guy with a shaggy salt-and-pepper beard and shaved head who leans in when he talks because he's very excited. That demeanor, he admits, can be intimidating to some who don't know him — though in the Toronto art scene, most people know him — but Duro, as he prefers to be called, has been an Apple fan since his childhood.

"I'm a hardcore Apple nerd," he tells me as we sit across from one another in an empty lounge inside an airy studio space in Toronto's Liberty Village, a former industrial area that, in recent years, has become one of the city's most vibrant creative hubs. A few years ago, a sketch of the late Steve Jobs went viral, which caught the attention of artists and entrepreneurs, both local and abroad.

Duro's work is in high demand in this neighborhood because he has redirected his once-rebellious graffiti output into something more lucrative: murals. As someone who found an outlet for his intensity through art, murals have become both a primary creative outlet and a considerable revenue source.

Despite improvising the murals themselves, Duro credits his recent rise to three things: the iPad Pro 12.9, Apple Pencil, and Instagram. Together, he's built a network of collaboration that extends well beyond the local Toronto art scene as he takes on the role of iPad Pro advocate. Like well-known Pencil artists like Kyle Lambert and our own Serenity Caldwell, who drew her entire review of the stylus on the iPad Pro itself, Duro, despite having used the Mac and well-known graphics design programs for years, says the iPad Pro has facilitated an entirely new form of expression.


"The iPad lets my clients and my followers visually see my guts and every idea I ever had spill out onto the internet — in HD — in a way they've never seen before, and they started hiring me for it," he says. When he's finished improvising his murals, he takes a photo of them with his iPad and uses apps — usually Procreate, but for his burgeoning clothing line an app called RageOn! — makes some changes, and uploads them to Instagram, where his 8,000+ followers eat it up.

His latest project is an Instagram account called, aptly, ipadprograffiti, where he shows off the work of other amazing artists creating on the iPad Pro using Pencil. "Every venue, every customer, every client wants something hand-drawn," he says, remarking that using Pencil basically eliminates the traditional prototyping phase of a traditional graphic design pitch.

His conversational style means that he can bring an iPad Pro and Pencil into a meeting with a prospective client and sketch something in real time, turning that into a job that will eventually become a mural or art installation. He's also leveraging the power of Instagram to launch a clothing line, the first piece of which he was wearing during our meeting. While the distribution of such a venture is fraught with uncertainty, the overhead of producing the pieces is minimal because Duro takes his so-called "retro 80s and 90s" mural designs and merely overlays them on top of clothing renders.

The implications of such a simple turnkey fashion line, done right, are easy to see. For years, designing printed tees involved silkscreen machines, trial and error, and a lot of patience. Using increasingly high-quality cameras, desktop-class tools, and quick prototyping eliminates many of the barriers in bringing products to market — Duro's already experimented with an athletics line printing his designs on leggings, for instance — and affords a designer more space to focus on creating.

Duro has boundless energy, as many artists do, and quickly flits from one topic to another. His confidence and bravuro is infectious, and if the work didn't speak for itself there would be a sense of self-inflation. But there isn't, because as he says, "I can produce anything I want and everyone loves it."

After our talk, he walks me over to a recent mural he painted for a friend's company's new office, and it's exactly as he described: "When I'm painting a mural, my arms flailing all around, I'm in my element. I'm capturing the true essence of Massivity," a word he uses to describe not just this work but his ethos. "But then with the iPad, I can break it apart and make it cooler.

"It's the ultimate example of convergence," he says, interlocking his fingers and smiling. "This drawing took me 14 hours to do. It's huge." But for a man who doesn't need a lot of sleep, who spends days and nights "spilling his guts" onto the internet, onto Instagram, through the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, I think there are plenty more 14-hour drawing sessions in his future.

Daniel Bader

Daniel Bader is a Senior Editor at iMore, offering his Canadian analysis on Apple and its awesome products. In addition to writing and producing, Daniel regularly appears on Canadian networks CBC and CTV as a technology analyst.