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A Language Without Words

Updated: Jun 5, 2020


The recently finished 1,000-foot mural painted on the exterior wall behind Snugglers Furniture in Waterloo, Ontario. -- Scroll down for a Behind-the-Scenes Look at the artist's process.

Offhand, when you hear the word "communicate," what comes to mind? Initially, our minds tend to veer towards the spoken or written word. But are we really limited to just those options?

When you stop and count the plethora of methods we use to convey ideas, the human experience becomes that much richer.

How many forms of communication do you count in this mural?

Please share your finds in the comments section below!

For example: BODY LANGUAGE. Without words, we convey ideas and feelings through our eyes, gestures, and even touch. We can also communicate via PATTERNS, such as Morse code and semaphore lines (optical telegraphs, using lights). COLOR communicates too. It sets a mood, identifies groups or objects, and can even trigger a visceral response. For instance, advertisers have learned that red stimulates appetite, which is why you'll notice the use of this color in so many fast food chain brands.

We are LEGO pieces

What is the real purpose of communicating ideas to each other? Is it not to make a CONNECTION?

Everything in the natural world: plants, animals, humans, and the celestial bodies of the galaxy, are interdependent, like puzzle pieces that fit together and co-mingle to create a whole. Thus, we as individual people have an innate need to fit into the big picture, to find our place.

Making connections not only fills our emotional needs for warmth, love, and companionship, it is also integral to building, inventing, and innovating. How many projects could we have accomplished throughout history without the cooperation of hundreds or even thousands of individuals connecting with each other, sharing ideas, communicating with each other?

Tens of thousands of construction workers have been hired to piece together the massive $100 billion super-city in Saudi Arabia's desert. It will be home to some 2 million residents upon completion in 2035.

Yes, we are LEGO pieces. We yearn to connect with others so that we may build, grow. And just like literal LEGO, the variety of possibility is endless. What will YOU build?

The Arts - Why Do We Need Them?

In exploring all these different forms of communication, I got to realizing just why the arts have thrived throughout the ages: Art is a language without words.


MUSIC is a form of expression that captures the composer's mood and instantly plants it within the listener, transcending any spoken language. FILM is an art form that conveys ideas through a combination of moving images, sounds, music. And DANCE gathers all the impact of motion and body movement into a story untold by other means.

So, when it comes to VISUAL ART -paintings, sculptures, stained glass- I suppose you could say that my love for creating it stems from a desire to connect with others; to understand the natural world -the science of light, the impact of color; to build something and contribute to the grand "LEGO project."

I hope that was achieved in some small way by this mural.

How many forms of communication do you count in this mural? Share your finds in the comments section below!


The mural entitled "Connect, Communicate, Innovate" can be found behind Snugglers Furniture at 30 Weber St. N in Waterloo, Ontario.

Garry Springer, owner/manager of both Snugglers Furniture locations, has made community connections in Waterloo since his youth. His goal this year: to spruce up the area with a stytlized modern cityscape painted on his parking lot's exterior wall.

There is a certain honor among graffiti artists: "Don't deface another artist's work." So the goal behind painting a mural was twofold: enrich the neighbourhood, and reduce the likelihood of being accosted by trashy graffiti.

Garry also wanted to recognize the successful growth and change happening in Waterloo. So I incorporated some call-outs to the construction of the Ion train system, the new LED street lamp installations -both of which began within this past year- and the telecommunication devices that, alongside many other industries, mark Waterloo as a successful tech cluster.

The Process

First, I sketched out my initial design concepts on paper, and assembled them into a mini scale-replica. Then I drew grid-lines on the wall to aid in placing those scaled elements accurately. A lot of legwork went on here: chalking in shapes, stepping back a few feet, adjusting proportions, stepping back again. And again. And again.

Once the elements were in place, I used painter's tape wherever possible to mask out sections I wanted untouched by paint, such as for windows and other straight lines. I painted the silhouette figures using large custom stencils I created from my studio. And in some instances, I went freehand with a small brush, for things such as the thin telephone wires and "touching hands" outline.

The entire job took just under 50 hours to complete.

The key to making quality art, in my opinion, is flexibility.​ You'd be surprised how many times I revised my design before and even during execution. The final product looks markedly different from early concept sketches.


Flexibility was also of great help when a group of local vagrants congregated in my workspace for a drinking party, lol. They were friendly, picking up paint rollers and offering to lend a hand. But you shouldn't drink and paint...

One man toppled over and spilled his beer in my paint trough. The others played soccer with a wad of used painter's tape, accidentally whipping it at my fresh paint job. At one point I had to band-aid a tipsy hobo who sliced his hand open climbing the wire fence, bleeding all over the work area. Afterward he hugged me tight and asked me to marry him.

So, adventures all around. I just had to smile, brush myself off, and keep painting. (I'm a completionist, after all!)

What other stories do you see in this mural's imagery?

Who knows what those hand symbols in the square mean?

I'd love to hear your thoughts or questions.

Please feel free to mention them in the comments section below!


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