News / Arts & Entertainment

Bartender Parlays Chalk Menu Designs Into Profitable Art Career

Bartender Chalks Up Unique Arti
X
August 16, 2013 2:01 PM
A Washington area bartender who is as creative with chalk as he is with cocktails is now creating one-of-a-kind artworks for high-profile clients. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently sat in with Patrick Owens on one of his projects and spoke with him about his craft.
A Washington-area bartender who is as creative with chalk as he is with cocktails is now creating one-of-a-kind artworks for high-profile clients.

During quiet hours on the job, Patrick Owens started drawing chalk images advertising the day’s specials on the A-frame sandwich boards outside the bar where he works.

He has doodled since childhood but never pursued art as a serious endeavor. Once he started working on the sandwich boards, Owens drew inspiration from popular American culture, including music, books and movies.
The artistry of bartender Patrick Owens' menu boards led to private commissions. (Courtesy Patrick Owens)The artistry of bartender Patrick Owens' menu boards led to private commissions. (Courtesy Patrick Owens)

We were on a strip of the street where there were tons of bars and everyone had these boards out and they all said the same thing: ‘$3 Rum & Cokes,’" Owens said. "So I tried to be as creative as possible…That was my whole point was to prompt interest for somebody walking down the street to say ‘Oh, that’s interesting. Maybe I’ll check out this place.’”

Soon after he started drawing, his art started to get noticed and he started getting private commissions.

Compass Rose

One of Owens' recent clients was the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, the most visited museum in the country.

He got the job after a museum intern searched the Internet looking for a chalk artist. After an interview, Owens got the job.  

Owens was selected to create an artistic version of a compass rose, a traditional design on a map showing the principal directions, for the museum's new "Time & Navigation" exhibit.

Owens created a compass rose in chalk at the entrance of the museum, “both as an entryway treatment partially to get visitors in,” said Mychalene Giampaoli, an education specialist at the museum, “but also to echo the fact that maps are very extensively used in navigation.”

Owens spent nine hours working on the project in the area leading up to the museum's main entrance.

“The building crew didn't want to take down the stanchions [barriers] because they didn't want anybody walking on it to ruin the art."

She asked Owens how he felt about people walking over something so beautiful, “and  he goes, ‘what I love about my art is that it’s so ephemeral.’”

The museum gave Owens an image to work from, but allowed him some creativity.

“They had the scale and the dimension,” said Owens. “They knew where they were going to put it outside, but the specific image they left up to me. I wanted to integrate an actual rose in the center of the compass and they were all for that.”
 
As Owens' art keeps evolving, so does his technique.

These days he can often be found using a chalk marker instead of regular chalk to create his one-of-a-kind pieces.

Food-themed art

Another recent project was a wall drawing he created for a client who wanted a character called the "Swedish Chef" from a popular U.S. TV series.

A real chef, José Andrés, commissioned Owens to create a unique welcome to his restaurant; a large mural of a hand, holding a pair of tweezers, sketched and then completed with a black chalk marker, over the door leading to his bar.
Patrick Owens sketched and then completed this work with a black chalk marker, over the door of a local bar. (Julie Taboh/VOA)Patrick Owens sketched and then completed this work with a black chalk marker, over the door of a local bar. (Julie Taboh/VOA)
 Like the Smithsonian project, he was given an image to work from, and had to replicate it many times larger than the original.

“Basically they came to me with an exact image and I just had to find a way to put it on the wall,” said Owens.

The hand mural took about seven hours to complete, with most of the time spent measuring and sketching it out.

The mural was just one of the many designs Owens has created for Andrés, who owns about a dozen bars and restaurants in the Washington area.

Today, Owens could easily afford to leave bartending and do his chalk art fulltime, but says he would miss the social interaction.

“With the bartending I do enjoy it quite a bit, the social aspects of seeing friends roll in and meeting new people," he said. "I could split off in either direction; I could easily go fulltime as a bartender, or a bar manager or something else, or I could go full time as an artist and I’m being selfish right now because I kind of want the best of both worlds.”

You May Like

Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

At Boston Bombing Hearing, Sides Spar Over Boat

At final pre-trial hearing, lawyers for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, prosecutors disagree on whether vessel where he hid from police can be shown to jurors More

Iran Judiciary 'Picks' Lawyer for Detained WP Reporter

Masoud Shafii has been attempting to secure official recognition as Rezaian’s attorney, but is not allowed to see his client in prison More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Washington DC local from: Washington DC
August 19, 2013 11:27 AM
Neat story and such a talented artist! Thanks for covering the local creative talents of Washington, DC's residents. It helps show Washington as far more vibrant and lively than the staid politics, policy, and lawmaking that most people associate it with typically.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

Country-pop singer, Lizzie Sider sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to perform songs from her new album, “Butterfly,” and to talk about her anti-bullying tour.

Blogs

African Music Treasures