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

    Video Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.

    New in Music Alley

    Beyond Category: Arturo Sandovali
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    February 02, 2016 3:53 PM
    Cuban-born trumpeter Arturo Sandoval is one of the most exciting musicians in jazz. The multi-Grammy winner takes the Blues Alley stage to perform, and sits down with Beyond Category host Eric Felten to talk about his life in music.

    Cuban-born trumpeter Arturo Sandoval is one of the most exciting musicians in jazz. The multi-Grammy winner takes the Blues Alley stage to perform, and sits down with Beyond Category host Eric Felten to talk about his life in music.