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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

Studies point to possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video 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

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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
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 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.

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