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Sharpie LIVE at Evil Olive

THIS Friday, October 19th, Chicago’s own Evil Olive in the very cool Wicker Park neighborhood, will be hosting “UnVeil,” a collaborative effort between Sharpie artist Keith Skogstrom of Geodesic Designs and Loren Egeland of Soulfume Ink.

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY! Sneak peek at the installation! See the real thing THIS Friday!

Keith, a furniture and mural artist in Chicago, IL,  took a minute to fill us in on how this awesome project came to be!

I contacted the owner and requested to place a temporary mural on a vacant wall in his venue. Professionally, I’m constantly searching for public spaces in which to display artwork. For me, the idea is that as an artist I need to be making objects, and continue to put them in the public eye. It forces me to generate work and to maintain a presence in the community. I used my recent work at Violet Hour and Back Room, as examples of the proposed mural and after formally pitching him my proposal he put me in contact with the management team. We collaborated on how the installation would reflect both my aesthetics as a designer, and the needs of the venue. In order to best  suit our collaborative needs I invited graphic artist, Loren Egeland of Soulfume Ink to participate in the creation of the installation. Loren created digital renderings of his contribution to the piece.

It all starts somewhere...

I then put together some drawings of the overall arrangement and design of my 12 panels.

Sharpie sketches... their finest!

Together we spent the last 4 months in my studio, also known as “The Sandbox”, building and designing the installation.

My contribution to the installation is inspired by the radial symmetry of­ gears, along with the mechanical processes involved in creating the shapes and panels themselves. I see the mechanical ratios of gears as patterns which I can distort. I use Sharpie markers to create implied depth and functional pattern on sculptural elements.

The wheels are officially turning!

The final arrangement and size of the individual panels, is determined by the location of the mural within the venue. In this case, it is nestled under the steel stairs on a brick wall.

We look forward to unveiling this art installation and encourage everyone to join us on October 19th at 8PM at  Evil Olive (1551 West Division).

You’ve seen how it all started, now head over to Evil Olive THIS Friday to see how it turned out!

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The Legend Lives On

The legend with his Sharpie masterpiece

Johnny Legend may not be a household name just yet, but this passionate, driven, “metal man” is most certainly on his way there. The motorcycle designer and builder from the Second City has been steadily growing his business, and his acclaim, all while carrying a Sharpie Pro Metal Barrel marker  with him along the way.

Legend, who started building two to three bikes a year as a way to blow off some creative energy, now boasts an impressive 6,000 square-foot garage and studio that he and his crew happily run from sun-up to sun-down. This kind of creative passion is what made Johnny the perfect fit for Sharpie’s 2012 ad campaign as the face of Sharpie Pro Metal Barrel markers.


This king of the garage puts marker to metal every day creating some of the meanest machines on the street.  From custom baggers, a Harley Davidson design that can comfortably sit people and all the Sharpie markers you can carry, to stealth military-grade bikes, these award winning motorcycles are what keep celebrities and our very own president, Ben, coming back for more.

It’s not the awards though that keep Johnny holed up in garage six days a week, but rather the love for helping people showcase who they are through metal, steel and two rubber tires; “I love building custom, unique bikes for people as unique as they are. People love custom rides that they can express themselves through. They are personally involved  and invested in every piece of the design process leading up to the end result, and watching them drive off on a bike that is more like a piece of themselves  than a way to get around, is best part of my business.”

Johnny started out wanting to build a couple bikes but now he is helping people showcase who they are through their favorite mode of transportation; and all it took was a dream, the drive to succeed no matter what and a little marker on metal, ok a LOT of marker on metal.

The Sharpie bike that Started it all

So, what are YOU gonna’ start?

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Sharpie Star, Emmy Star Brown

It’s that time of year again! Sharpie is excited to announce the bright new faces appearing in its 2012 advertising campaign! You may remember last year’s “Start With Sharpie” ads that featured some of our most passionate fans.  We were so inspired by what fans just like YOU are creating with Sharpie that we HAD to showcase a new round of amazing talent in 2012!

Allow me to introduce you to Sharpie’s newest rising star, and one of the stars for our 2012 ad campaign, Emmy Star Brown! (Yes, I am having a touch too much fun with her name; I mean, who wouldn’t?! It’s AWESOME!) 

Our very own gold star, Emmy Star Brown, Sharpie 2012 Advocate!

Emmy is a Chicago graphic designer and artist who got her start by creating eco-friendly, freehand expressive artwork on salvaged glassware and glass windows. And this cute-as-a-button creator is pretty rough and tumble when it comes to her craft– from dumpster diving to garage sales– she digs in, taking other people’s discarded treasures and giving them new life with our new Metallic markers (NEW Gold and Bronze colors joining Silver)!

Tell me about yourself! Where are you from? Interests? Likes? Dislikes? Pet Peeves? Give us the good stuff!

I grew up right outside of Chicago, in the suburb of Glen Ellyn. I think describing a bit of my childhood may explain where my artistic roots came from.

 As a kid, both of my parents were teachers. Mom taught elementary school, Dad was a middle-school art teacher. With his summers off, Dad would pull me around in a little red wagon through the flea markets. As an art guy himself, he would go seeking old books, tools, and things for his classroom. This really opened my eyes to the world of finding, salvaging and reusing early-on, which has stuck with me my whole life.


Likes: Design-wise, I have always loved mobiles, typography, modern/minimalist work. Keith Haring, Robert Rauschenberg and Alexander Calder are my heroes.

I’m also a huge dog lover. I have a 14-month Welsh Corgi named Mickey. He looks like a little bear. He’s good company at the studio too.

As you can probably guess, I love salvaged furniture too. I’ll often stumble upon old wooden coffee tables, chairs and/or shelving in our alley, most of which I somehow make room for. I have had pretty good luck lately. My most recent find was a pair of really nice mid-century mirrors.

What inspires you to uncap what’s inside?

Most of my inspiration for my current work comes from my background in graphic design, specifically typography. I have always had some attraction to letter forms and script fonts. I just love their movement, line weight and sharpness. I also feel incredibly inspired by my friends! My closest circle of friends all work as independent creatives as well, which I feel allows for us all to feed ideas off of each other. This group includes an animator, jeweler, craftsmen, seamstress & illustrator.

How do you use Sharpie markers in your work?

All of my work began with ink drawings! If you were to flash back to three years ago, you would find me sitting in a corporate office, filling sketchbooks and scrap paper with doodles in my free time. I had stacks of them. Little did I know, these were the start to something much bigger.

Favorite Sharpie?  Why? 

Bronzed and Beautiful!

My favorite Sharpie is the fine point black markers. Black ink has always set the foundation for me, always the best starting point. I also love the metallic markers, they appear beautifully on black surfaces.

How would you describe your style? 

My style could be described as: abstract, controlled, intricate, whimsical, expressive, smooth, seamless, organic, free-flowing.

Because my lines are so controlled, my work is often mistaken for screen prints or paper cut-outs, which is interesting. It’s actually a compliment.

One of my friends recently said to me, “your gift is your control, your skill is painting.”

You have done some amazing things on VERY different surfaces and go to some pretty unconventional lengths to get them. Tell us, do you REALLY go dumpster diving?

Yes! I have many times. Its not a daily thing but I have gone to extremes to find old windows. Surprisingly, most are found in my own neighborhood, Ukrainian Village. I guess I have been lucky to settle in an older neighborhood, but I definitely keep an eye out for them all the time. I commonly find them piled up in the alleys, dumpsters or around construction sites. Its always funny approaching construction workers, as I’m not taken too seriously at first. But you’d be surprised with how many I wind up walking away with. Lesson learned – It never hurts to ask. I really prefer to find the old windows myself, rather than buying them. I love having a story of where they came from. Of course, the more I can salvage, the more I can keep my prices of paintings down too.

What are you working on next?

My next project is going to be a grouping of smaller glass paintings.

I don’t know about other cities, but the Chicago suburbs ‘unlimited garbage day’ is taken very seriously around here. Once a year, each suburb is assigned 1 day to throw as much junk on their lawn as they please – which often is very usable furniture, housewares. etc. This results in scavengers, like me, spending hours rummaging through it all. I was fortunate enough this past May to salvage around 50 old photo frames, all of varied sizes, colors and materials. Jackpot!

Because most of the glass was either missing or broken, I did replace lots of it. But finding each frame adds a little more personal story behind each piece. And it feels good knowing that this ‘waste’ will be reused into a piece of artwork worth keeping.

Sassy in silver

Do you have a soft spot for one of your designs in particular?

Yes! One of my first ink drawings I ever completed was a piece titled ‘Feather.’ Not only was it my first 2-piece drawing, but also my first piece which I felt worthy enough to frame. Fast-forward to 3 years later: I saved enough money to get my first studio space in Chicago, which ironically is called the ‘Feather Lofts ‘ so I now feel a little more even attached to it.

Best part of your “day job”?

There are so many best parts! I love the freedom of making a living, doing what I love. It’s really a dream. I was often told growing up that ‘art is a hobby, not a career.’ but overcame the obstacles to make it happen for me. It really feels more like a lifestyle than a job at times.

Working directly with clients is another great part. They are so appreciative, kind and supportive.

If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who and why?

I would choose Robert Rauschenberg. He was an incredible inspiration in my dad’s classroom, as well as in my creative process the past few years. He created non-traditional collage work using layers of found photos, prints and trash. He salvaged things to recreate from, which of course, is a major component of my own work. He also took risks and was experimental and didn’t care. His experimentation lead to ‘surprise and collectiveness’ as he said, which allowed him to really run with his style. Every artist, aspiring or professional, could learn from this guy.

Want more on Emmy? Check her 30-second ad that will be coming to a television screen near you!

AND the full-length version right HERE!

Also, be sure to check out her profile in the Sharpie gallery and see EVEN more on her website and connect with her on FacebookTwitter, on Flickr and on Instagram at emmystarbrown!

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Sharpie in Motion

Keith Skogstrom is a man in motion and his work is no different.

This Chicago artist is doing it big, 6 feet by 38 feet to be exact, in his latest project for The Violet Hour, a super swanky prohibition-themed speakeasy that Keith has re-decorated by creating an installation across the ENTIRE external facade of the building with Sharpie shrine-worthy work.

It’ll be up for another two weeks so if you’re in the Windy City you can swing by and check out Keith’s mechanical masterpiece.

Keith has graciously agreed to enlighten us about what it takes to create such an installation, what inspires him and his passion for Sharpie, of course!

Tell me about yourself! I was born and raised in Ohio. I received a BFA from Ohio University in 2007. In 2008, I moved to Chicago after a show titled Neoporkopolis. The show was in Cincinnati and one of the artist was from Chicago and suggested the city. I signed a lease and moved downtown a week later into the Ukrainian Village. Don’t move to Chicago in January. (We could have told you that! Although, funnily enough I made the same mistake!) The artist that encouraged my move was Andrew CopperSmith and together we had a show at a gallery as the “Binford Experience”. Andrew got into the graduate program at the Chicago Art Institute and there was little more production of artwork until the following February. I participated in a group show for Toyota at the Creative Lounge located at North Ave and Damen. Since then I have been operating out of a studio in Wicker Park as Geodesic Designs. I hope to continue making murals and furniture and soon to be doing so professionally. Someday I would like to have a furniture store/studio in which I sell furniture and artwork as well as a working space.  

What is inspires you as an artist?  I am inspired by mechanical motion.  

How would you describe your style? I would describe myself as a kinetic artist. My sculptures are both active and interactive. As a sculptor, I create a “machine” that consistently replicates an experience from a collective childhood unconsciousness. I would stylistically describe my flat work as “Implied Kinetics”. I create the illusion of “movement” by using shapes and patterns that resemble mechanical components such as cogs, pulleys, bearings, and timing belts. To increase the illusion, I use a combination of contour line drawing and cross hatching to add volume to the individual components.   

How did you get started working as an artist? How do you get the creative juices flowing?  My artistic career started in high school when a teacher, Mr. Mike Simpson, encouraged my artistic talents. I went to Ohio University and graduated Cum Laude in 2007 with a BFA in painting. My current work, which I categorize as the Brockton Operation series, is based on a commission I completed in October of 2010. The Brockton Operation became a complex in Mass. where Thomas Edison ran experiments for developing a central power grid. The finished product is a shaped wooden panel with varying intensities of Sharpie marker.   

For inspiration I’ll take things apart or watch Youtube videos about differential gears, engines, or any complex machine’s workings.  

How do you use Sharpie markers in your work?  I use Sharpie markers to make the lines and fill in blocks of color. I use rubber bands to attach the Sharpie markers to compasses to make perfect small circles. For larger circles, I have created a trammel point-like apparatus that holds a Sharpie marker on one independent clamp, and a sharp point on a second independent clamp. The two clamps attach to scrap lumber allowing for circles to be created at any diameter.    

Favorite Sharpie? Why? My favorite Sharpie markers are the fine tip and the chisel tip. I use the fine tip for intricate elements and fine circle circumferences. I use the chisel tips to fill in large blocks or add a specific texture.  

Chiseled to perfection...

Describe the process for creating such a large installation piece.  As an artist, I use plywood because the wood grain contrasts the mechanical images. As a draftsman, I am interested in the plywood because I can create high contrast lines that can and are sanded to varying levels on the value scale. The style for this current installation is inspired by the “Brockton Operation” series, but the arrangement for the eleven main circles is based on an artifact found in a Greek wreckage call the Antikythera mechanism.

The process for translating the image from paper to mural was as follows: create template, translate template to individual panels, thicken panels, create registration, mount panels on registration, draw first layer, sand first layer, draw second layer, remove panels from registration, coat panels with protective finish, and finally mount panels to façade.

To create the template, I covered the façade in a six foot tall level cardboard sheets. I drew my shapes using a spacer and level based on the drawing I created and used to propose the installation. I cut out the cardboard shapes and took them to a large home improvement store. I traced the shapes onto matching plywood maple panels, making sure the grain ran in the same direction. I squared the shapes by backing them with and inch thick border then routing the edge plum. Next, I built a six foot tall by 38 foot long faux wall that was the exact length of the Violet Hour façade but broke down into 8 four foot structures and 1 six foot structure. I mounted the faux wall directly to the actual façade approx. one foot down from a support beam. I then mounted the 53 shaped panels to the faux wall and removed the entire structure from the wall leaving the pieces attached. I created the first layer of the finished image in my studio 20 feet at a time. I built a slide for different panels to be added and removed as completed. Once the first layer of drawing was done, I took the faux wall back to the Violet Hour and confirm a consistent distribution of detail throughout the 38 feet as I had only seen it 20 feet at a time up to this point. At this point, I sanded the first layer with a 120 grit orbital sander until I got a blue/gray “faded” image. The faux wall then gets placed  back on the slide to be finished with a second “layer” of detail. Once the image was completed, I sent them to a finisher that I commissioned. I primed and painted the façade of the violet hour over a five day period. Once returned, the panels were arranged and mounted to the façade with thick blocks behind to create depth between the back of the panel and the wall.  

How did your installation project get started?    The installation got started because I was a regular at the Violet Hour. The Violet Hour is a prohibition themed speakeasy where the mural now hangs for another two weeks. The owners provide a wall for artists in the area to create murals upon and to do so on a four to six week rotation. I initiated contact with the owners via a wonderful hostess, now friend of mine, named Lara. She arranged a meeting for the owners and myself where I pitched the mural with a drawing and an example of the artwork from the “Brockton Operation” series. They agreed that I could use the wall in September, but due to a delay on my part the unveiling was pushed back to October.    

 Advice for other young artists?   Make things. You can’t have shows or design your website without something to document. I am constantly getting questions from artists about how to setup their website or market themselves when they have few artifacts and even fewer competent images or documentation of the work. Most importantly, artists need to create objects or conceptualize thoughts in order to develop an identity. The process of creating unique artwork starts with the action. Critique and refinement can only be applied to fully realize artistic investigations. Without attempts at making art, artwork can not be fully developed.

For more on Keith and his work, visit his website and find more photos of his work on Facebook!

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Merge presents Reply All

Sharpie was the chosen weapon of creativity at the most recent Merge party, called Reply All.  On December 10th, the Chicago design community gathered to celebrate creativity and passion at a local Chi-town hot spot, Evil Olive. Organized by Mig Reyes, Kyle Stewart and a team of AIGA Chicago members, the goal of Reply All was to connect the creative community and of course, have fun.

The event had an all-star lineup of five guest speakers, local Chicago DJs kept the dance floor moving and art auctions were held through out the night with proceeds going to Reason to Give. The walls of the venue were covered with white paper and blank posters with more Sharpie markers far and wide, luring the creative minds to draw, write, scribble and sketch. Even our friends from The Hello Project were present with a dedicated area for creating those favorite 3×3 ‘Hellos’. Find out exactly who was in attendance, speakers, DJ’s, sponsors and more at LetsMerge.

Big shout outs go to the list of sponsors and artists who helped make the event possible and of course two incredibly talented photographers, Kyle LaMere of IshootRockstars and Colin Beckett who captured Reply All in all its glory (…and here are some of them!)

photo by Colin Beckett

photo by Colin Beckett

photo by Colin Beckett

photo by Colin Beckett

by Kyle LaMere of IshootRockstars (you might recognize a few familiar faces in the top row)

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Congratulations Chicago Blackhawks!

*I recommend playing the video below as you read this post for the full effect.

Chicago Blackhawks WIN Stanley Cup Finals

CONGRATULATIONS Chicago Blackhawks!!

 The Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night to win the Stanley Cup Finals in Game 6, the first championship for Chicago since 1961.  Patrick Kane sneaked the puck past Michael Leighton lifting the Hawks into a 4-3 overtime win!  What an awesome victory for such an stellar team!  Way to Go Hawks!!!   


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The Well-Read Affair

Need a chance to let loose & have a little fun?  Looking to give back in a postiive way? 

  … the opportunity is right here!

Literacy Chicago invites you to attend their annual fundraising event, The Well-Read Affair, in support of adult literacy programs taking place on February 25th!  Join L.C.  in the penthouse ballroom of Hotel 71 for an evening of music, cocktails and hors d’oeurves, accompanied by a silent auction in which attendees will bid on a host of custom bookmarks hand designed with Sharpie markers by artists and celebrities!

Get your ticket here!

Here’s a sneak peak of some of the bookmarks that will be up for bid:

6 words made famous by the great James Earl Jones (another noteworthy performance as Mr. Mertle in "The Sandlot")

Marc Brown's fav book (side 1)

Your everyday Aardvarks (Marc Brown, side 2)

Webster put the actress' picture under "H-O-T"

What's Scarlett Jo.'s fav? The Pokey Little Puppy! (side 2)

Bookmark created by Zac Efron. Mick Jagger anyone?

Literacy Chicago is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the literacy skills of Chicago-area adults and families.  Their programs and services range from free classes in reading and math, to GED prep, one-on-one tutoring in Adult Basic Literacy and English as a Second Language and more.

 Visit Literacy Chicago online for more information about The Well-Read Affair, to purchase your tickets, and learn about all of their programs, as well as other events and volunteer opportunities.    

 The Well-Read Affair

 Date: Thursday, February 25, 2010
Time: 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Location: Hotel 71 Penthouse
                        71 E. Wacker Drive
                       Chicago, IL 60601
Cost: $75 per person

Click here to purchase tickets.

A few more pics just for fun:

A whole lotta Sharpie goin' on (What Elvis would have said)

Sharpie provided plenty of markers used to create the bookmarks up for bid!

Sharpie provided lots of markers used to create the bookmakrs that will be up for bid at Literacy Chicago's Well-Read Affair!

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Touchdown Onto Valentine’s Day

It’s Monday, you may not be in the brightest of moods…  You stayed up late last night celebrating the most popular non-national holiday of the year, your belt is a little tighter after eating endless amounts of seven-layer dip, on the way to the coffee machine people think you are talking to yourself, when you’re actually just reminding your feet “right, left, right, left…”  Frankly, your mind just isn’t quite working in full-force yet – which probably won’t kick in until Tuesday or Wednesday. 

Just to make your day a little bit more difficult to get through, here’s a reminder:  V-Day (or should I say D-Day) is right around the corner! The pressure is really on to get your that quality gift.  So what does this mean?  Are you excited or aggravated by this fact?  Maybe last week you were all for the lovey dovey holiday but as the pressure mounts are you beginning to change your mind?  Or maybe you absolutely hated the thought of hearts and candy last week and now that you have a date, you’re all for it!  Hey, I don’t know what your thoughts are…but that’s why I’m asking:

Valentine’s Day: Love it or Leave it?

Check out these brand new videos from our on-street Chicago interviews and see what people had to say:

Join the debate on Facebook !  Upload your videos, pictures & comments all before Sunday – VALENTINE’S DAY!

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Take a Picture, It’ll Last Longer

We’ve got love.  We’ve got hate.  We’ve got the good, the bad & the ugly presents.  What’s the next hot topic for the debate?! How about

Valentine’s Day Memories!  

Memories are like pictures for your soul.  When you think back to that moment, you can see every detail, hear every sound, smell every scent, taste every last morsel —  it all comes rushing back to you in an instant just with one thought. Valentine’s Day is tough though.  There is a lot of pressure to make this one day memorable, a  day that will be remembered and cherished forever.  Do we achieve that every year? Maybe. Maybe not.  Either way a memory is made and we add yet another snapshot to our internal photo album.

So what’s the best or worst  memory you have of Valentine’s Day?  Every one has some story to tell, what’s yours?  Maybe you had that perfect Valentine’s Day that you will never forget.  Maybe you had a magical night with your sweetheart and to this day it was the best night of your life!  Did you get a bad rash from the “roses” your lover bought you?  Did you bloat like a blowfish post-VDay chocolates?  Tell us about your VDay memory –  we want to know!

When we were downtown we got a few people chatting about their VDay memories -  here are new videos from the on-street interviews:

Join the conversation on Facebook where you can comment and upload your own videos and pics!   We will be posting more videos through the 14th so check back to see fi you or any of your friends are posted!

Don’t forget, all the videos are uploaded on Youtube

♥ ♥ ♥