GTPulse: Traverse City Lawn Artist Inspires Smiles

From wine fairies to makeshift food pantries, community members everywhere have helped each other brighten up their time in quarantine. Toby Javin is a Traverse City local who had a creative idea of his own for putting a smile on his neighbor’s faces by putting a smile on his yard, literally. 

“I wanted to do 90 feet but it was just going to be too much, so it’s 64 feet across.”

Toby thought about the idea in the beginning of quarantine after falling into too much Facebook mixed with too much unsettling news.

“I was actually on Facebook and there was so much negative. It was just horrible. I turned 50 this year so I did it on my birthday weekend. So, I was sitting there and thinking about how I just wanted to make everybody happy. My goal was to inspire at least 10,000 people to smile by doing that. That was my big inspiration for it, and that’s my favorite emoji.”

Toby has become skilled in what he calls yard art and he’s worked on bigger projects than the smiley face. He works as a construction worker and in his work often uses field marking paint, much like what is used in sports stadiums. 

“I’ve been in construction for goodness, a lot of years, and when I use my marking paint for laying out things I was pretty good with the upside paint for marking. When I got my line stripers I was practicing how to use them in my yard and I laid out a whole parking lot in my yard and thought, ‘well that’s kind of fun.’ That’s when I decided to do an American Flag.”

The flag was 30 by 50 feet with perfectly spaced and aligned stars. He’s also worked on projects for friends and family with words and other painted symbols.

The smiley that that spans across his lawn now will soon be replaced by something else. One of his kids is a graduating senior this year and Toby is excited to paint something on the lawn that will celebrate his son’s achievements.

“I feel bad for the kids graduating in 2020, they’re kind of getting cut short and everything. I have six-foot-high letter stencils and three-foot-high. His will obviously be bigger because he’s my kid. He’s graduating from TC West so I’ll put, ‘Congratulations TC West, Hunter’ and a large 2020, and who knows, maybe I’ll throw something else in there.”

I have two brothers and we always have an opinion on what our dad is up to. Whether it be a home project or a new album he’s listening to, we want to know what he’s thinking so we can ask questions and occasionally tease. All in good nature of course. Toby’s kids are proud of their dad’s unique talent.

“They think it’s great and pretty exciting but they get a little bummed out when they have to come out and start holding tape measures.”

He does lawn art for anyone for any occasion. Although he doesn’t have a business website, he happily answers inquiries through the lawn art’s Facebook page, Lines&Designs LLC.

“When I was in school I had an art teacher who didn’t think I was very good and I think she was wrong,” Toby said with a laugh. “It’s a lot of fun and I just really enjoy doing it.”

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Categories: GTPulse