I recently designed and painted the awning and window for the great folks at ANNA NYC's East Village storefront here in NYC. ANNA was established in 1995 by designer Kathy Kemp. Kathy wanted to make clothing that came from and belonged to the East Village. All made in NYC, she built her brand on a combination of innovative design, local manufacturing and high quality fabrics, and the feel of the space and the products have a uniquely modern elegance. I always love to work with fellow creative entrepreneurs in New York, as I know first-hand how challenging this can be and how dedicated and passionate you have to be in order to make a living doing what you love.
ANNA shop interior (L) and geometric print dress (R).
The first step was to design the awning graphic. I started with the existing ANNA typeface, which had to be modified to a bolder and more extended font to fit the proportions of the awning. I used ANNA's signature dark ultramarine blue and mocked up the proposed design using Photoshop. Once the design was approved I decided that the best approach to apply the design was to cut a 26" x 130" stencil on heavyweight corrugated cardboard, as I needed a durable material that was capable of keeping a clean edge during the painting process.
I used a projector to lay out the composition then drafted out and cut the stencil in my Brooklyn studio. I then used my personal art transportation service (aka the NYC subway system) to transport the stencil to the site. I also had just completed a 24" x 36" commissioned painting on Perspex and decided that I'd use the stencil as a protective case to deliver the piece to its new home in Hudson Square during my trip to the city. But more on that later...
I then used Gorilla Tape to fix the stencil to the awning and used my trusty laser level to make sure that everything was lined up correctly. If you're thinking "this looks like a job for two people" then you're not wrong. However over the years I've developed ways to tackle jobs like this without help, as I typically can't afford to hire assistants. While this tends to be more difficult it has caused me to develop solutions that I wouldn't normally have come up with if I had assistance. As Plato once said, "our need will be the real creator". I couldn't agree more.
Now for the fun part :) I was blessed with a dry sunny day with minimal wind, which made the process relatively easy. While applying pressure at the edges with my left hand around the edge of the stencil to ensure that the edges remained clean and tight, I moved left to right and used a New York Fat Cap to apply a thick, even coat. After the first coat had dried I went back in and applied a second coat to ensure that the finish would hold up to the elements. I also used a heavy body oil based spraypaint (as opposed to acrylic based) for the same reason, as oil stands up well against precipitation, humidity and lightning. Ok maybe not lightning but you get the idea.
For the finishing touch I cleaned up all of the edges and bits of overspray with a white oil based spraypaint and BOOM! This one's a wrap. But wait, there's more. If you're thinking "hey this post is kind of long as it is" then again, you're not wrong. Are you in my head? That's cool, I like company but be careful there's a lot going on in there.
By the time I cleaned up the light was beginning to fade quickly, and I considered coming back during the day to get clearer pictures. But there was something special happening with the quality of the light, and I thought about how inviting the warm light looked radiating out of the window. This made me think of how the purpose of a display window is to draw people in to the space and this gave me the idea to paint a simple and clean design on the window. Nothing that would interfere with the beautiful dresses on display, but something that would catch the light and attract the attention of potential customers passing through the neighborhood. By then I was tired and I still had a commission to deliver to its new owner (remember?) so I drew up a quick sketch in my sketchbook and off I went.
To be continued...