Lossless Toronto: Thoe Dimson The Lost Hero
Growing up in London, Ontario, a young Theo Dimson developed a lifelong fascination with the geometry of the night’s sky. While his curiosities also tended towards the dramatic here on Earth, with an interest in the bold graphics of comic books and cinema, Dimson’s artistic gaze would forever be locked skyward.
By the 1940s the Kabakoupolous’ had moved to Toronto’s Danforth, bought a grocery store and anglicized their name to Dimson. Theophanis was shortened to Theo and the youngest of four boys was already impressing people with his drawing talents.
Following graduation from OCAD in 1950, an apprenticeship at Arts Association Limited Toronto (where he would later become president and director), plus some years spent freelancing, Theo Dimson would become internationally know for his Art Deco style theatre and movie posters that made use of his strong sense of geometry, symmetry, and drama. From the mythological stories of the constellations to the characters in comics, Dimson developed a love of the archetypal Hero. Dimson was also a romantic who loved musicals, and the works his literary hero, F. Scott Fitzgerald, particularly The Great Gatsby (it is said he read the novel over 50 times). All of these elements are boldly on display in every piece he created.
Fashion, as well as his work, was a stage to showcase his flamboyance. He could be spotted wearing skull print scarves and biker boots. With his special joie de vivre, even as he reached his 80s, Dimson sported threads from clothing lines popular with rappers and fitted suits with capes and his once signature fedora.
Ever cheeky and with the times Dimson once posted to his Facebook page, “You can Google me, as long as you still respect me in the morning.”
Dimson’s work has been featured in magazines the world over. From Idea Magazine in Japan to Switzerland’s Graphis Magazine. He will be remembered here in Canada for his stamps for Canada Post, his solo show at the ROM in 1993-94 and for his final show in February of 2010 at the Theatre Museum of Canada, aptly titled “Distinctly Different.” His designs have also graced Hollywood, with the titles for such films as Cher’s 1987 Moonstruck, among other Norman Jewison pictures.
It’s entirely fitting that Dimson’s work would ultimately go up into space as he was asked to design the arm patches for Canadian astronauts working with the Canadarm. He would also design the titles for Hail Columbia, an IMAX picture about the space shuttle Columbia.
Theo Dimson passed away from complications of pneumonia on Janurary 18th, 2012. In one of his last moments here on Earth his daughter, Nicole, read to him from The Great Gatsby one last time.