Date Completed: October 2016
Love Art Sushi is a restaurant with locations in Storrs, CT and Boston serving healthy build-your-own sushi bowls, salads, tea, and other small bites. Under the same management (Ron & Jess), they rebranded themselves from their previously run H.A. Cafe, with an entirely new menu and look. As part of their renovations, they painted an entire wall with chalkboard paint as a canvas for the ‘Art’ in their namesake. I had the wonderful opportunity to fill that wall as their first featured artist.
These are some sketches that I originally had in mind for the wall. They’re done in my own lettering style and I incorporated a fish, which was an element that Jess wanted. After consulting with them though, they wanted me to stick to their own font, Bentham, so that their branding would be consistent.
Jess and Ron also wanted an element of interaction between customers and the artwork. Kelsey Montague has a beautiful campaign titled #WhatLiftsYou that spread through social media. Her work invites people to insert themselves in the artwork to take photos.
So I had to find a way to incorporate that within the Love Art Sushi theme. The wall was big though, so there was plenty of room to be creative. I ended up using the fins of beta fish as inspiration for the “wings”.
The entire piece took a total of about 20 hours to complete. I started at the beginning of the week and I went in around 9/10 each night and would stay for a couple of hours. On the last night that I had to work on it, I stayed until 5 in the morning (not good for my health, but I happen to work well under pressure).
Most of it came about as I went along with it. The only things that I had set on paper were the placement of the fish, and their logo set in the center. The circular orb was an addition on the spot, as my way of delineating space for the type. The fins that formed itself into the wing-like structure came about within the last couple hours of me working on the piece. I was panicking at that point, because I didn’t have a clear idea of how I was going to complete it.
And this is the final design! It was lightly sprayed with a fixative to set the chalk in place, so it wouldn’t smudge too much if people happened to rub against the wall when taking photos. But Ron and Jess hope to have new artwork done in the future.
This was by far the largest piece of work I’ve ever done and I hope I have more opportunities to work with chalk in the future. It also makes me really happy to see people taking photos with the work! The amazing team at Love Art Sushi also graciously fed me with their delicious food while I worked with them. Definitely go grab some if you ever get the chance to visit!