My first experience in commercial art stems back to 2005 when I began sign making for Hy-Vee Grocers. At the time, I was in college and desperate to find a work, so I picked up a job at Hy-Vee in the film developing/video rental department. I thought that film developing was about as creative as my grocery-store-job could get until I began to notice all these hand drawn signs around the store. They weren't necessarily good but they were done by hand! If I had to work at a grocery store, I definitely wanted the "drawing job". To my advantage, the current sign maker quickly transferred on to another store, and I was hot on the chance to speak up for the position.
I really took this job seriously. Every sign I made, I used it as an opportunity to strengthen my skill and gain a better understanding of typography and composition. I visited other Hy-Vee stores and photographed other sign maker's work. My signs were going to represent the whole store (and myself!) so I really wanted to be proud of them.After three years with the Hy-Vee company, I came across the opportunity to move to Southern California and I went for it (there was a boy involved but that's besides the point!). I arrived to CA on a hope and a prayer, a bit naive, not having any job potential lined up before moving. And my series of unfortunate events is another story for another time, but I happened to find a job within a months time.One day while driving, I found myself behind a work van that had a vehicle wrap with graphics promoting a chalkboard menu business. "Intriguing", I thought as I quickly jotted down the business phone number and address. I gave them a call and asked if they were hiring any artists. They weren't, but they said I could bring by my portfolio and they could keep my information on file. I compiled a bunch of photos of signs I had made for Hy-Vee, thinking it would showcase some commercial illustration skills. But what really stood out to them was actually the hand lettering experience I had. They pointed out that it was easy to come by artists but not all artists were quick to pick up on the hand drawn typography aspect of menu board design. That being said, I got the job part-time and was on full-time in one week! Yay!
I really took a liking to creating chalkboard menus. I mean getting paid to illustrate all day is an artist's dream. From the black board paint to the colorful chalk material to the sealant used - it was all down to a science. When these materials collide, it creates pure magic! Easy to apply, easy to clean up and erase mistakes. It took a bit of practice, but I soon realized: I LOVE creating chalkboard art!
I asked a lot of questions about color application and design layouts, and there really was sooo much to learn. And just like the grocery signs, I used every menu board as a chance to make this one better than the last!
I worked at this company for 2 years, creating approximately 75 menu boards from start to finish. I ended up moving back to Missouri in 2010, but my passion for creating chalkboard menus and signs never left me.
And that's when Chalkbird Studio (now jazzyCHALKS) was born. And this blog will be my outlet to express my experiences with chalkboard art, and hopefully a place to inspire those who appreciate this form of functional artwork, too!
Thanks for reading about my story.