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BIG Sharpie Art

Looking At North Forty One West Eighty Seven Milky Way Galaxy Solar System Earth Northern Hemi America United States of America Illinois Chicago Six One Six North Rush Street Six Zero Six One One Exact Point You Are Looking At North Forty One West Eighty Seven Milky Way Galaxy Solar System Earth Northern Hemi North America The Lovely United States of America Illinois The Corrupt City of Chicago Six One Six North Rush Street Six Zero Six One

No, this is not gibberish and don’t worry, we haven’t lost our minds over here at Sharpie either.  These words are in fact a work of Sharpie art and the newest permanent fixture at Jbar, a well-known Chicago hotspot neighboring The James Hotel


“Everything inspires me.  Some artists paint pictures and shapes, I paint using words.  Words create images in my head, but I like the way words look when they are placed next to and on top of each other, taking on a form of its own.”  “My technique allows the viewer to think simple letters form complex words, serving to create language as a form of art.”

-Brian Graves

Local Chicago artist, Brian Graves made his Sharpie mark on the bar’s walls with Jgrooves I & II and Jposition I & II, installations from the Jbar Project.  For this project, Graves drew inspiration from different areas, including famous one-liners from popular club songs that have been fixated into his own mind.  The words above are from a portion of the installation, stating the precise location of Jbar itself; beginning with outer space progressing to its exact coordinates on Earth.bac 7

*I would like to take this moment to thank you, Mr. Graves, for cursing me with the musical mash-up that is repeating in my head, consisting of Madonna’s Hey Mr Dj, U2’s She Moves in Mysterious Ways, Tina Turner’s Proud Mary and P!nk’s intellectually stimulating, Get this Party Started.*

Graves focuses on the development of self-taught expression of both feeling and emotion in his own form of abstract painting. Letters, words, everyday expressions and emotion combine and collide with color and texture through layers of acrylics, oils, pastels and yes, Sharpie markers!


Artist Brian Graves (second from left) and friends at Jbar

Artist Brian Graves (second from left) and friends at Jbar


Trust me when I say that you need to see more of Brian Graves’ artwork. Absolutely incredible!  BigArtChicago <— Check it out

Hey, why not see his work up close and personal?!  Grab a cab and jet on over to the JBar at The James.

*A BIG thanks goes out to Raul Ruiz, Sharpie Highlighters Brand Manager for suggesting Brian’s Jbar project for the Sharpie Blog.  Follow Raul on Twitter! (He has a great profile pic)

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Meet artist Jeffrey Fulvimari

Jeffrey Fulvimari serves up some of his Sharpie art

Now, this is some cool stuff…

The work of Jeffrey Fulvimari, known for his illustrations of pretty young women with irresistible eyes, can be seen virtually everywhere — from mannequins featured in TV commercials to illustrations for Madonna’s children’s books, The English Roses.  His work has also adorned all different types of products, including wallets, pouches, towels, schedule organizers, and bags.  In celebration of his 10-year anniversary since launching his career in Japan, CWC is opening a store dedicated to all things Jeffrey, allowing his fans access to all of his products under one roof.  You can check it out here.  And his gallery here.

And here’s the amazing thing – Jeffrey uses Sharpies to create a lot of his work.  To think that Sharpie had a hand in these creations is humbling.

One thing Jeffrey has done over the years to help give back is his Fashion Plate solo exhibitions.   He held one held recently to benefit the Los Angles County Department of Child and Family Services.   Jeffrey explains how his Fashion Plates came to be:

The show was in part inspired by something that my friend, the illustrator Tobie Giddio, said to me a long time ago.  She said that illustration is always a service, and what we do is service to someone’s vision, whether it be a designer or a writer, etc.  So, the plates are a perfect metaphor for ‘a serving.’ And also the title Fashion Plates was too good to pass up.  So I drew on paper plates.  I also like taking something really overlooked and disregarded and turning it into art, in a pop kind of way, or inspired by the readymades of Marcel Duchamp.  I also use file folders.

Jeffrey has won numerous awards including a Grammy for his work with Ella Fitzgerald. He has worked with fashion designers Anna Sui and Marc Jacobs, and singer Tori Amos, among others.  Below he answers some questions about his work:

A wall of Fulvimari work

How did you get started as an artist?

I started coloring like everyone else when I was two years old, and just never stopped. I basically get paid to “color”.

Tell us a little about your genre. Are there lots of artists who do what you do? Where are they concentrated? What makes your work stand out from the rest?

I’m basically a commercial artist. When I started I drew many different things, but my drawings of girls became popular and became the most in demand subject that I drew.  It’s not like I am even really particularly interested in fashion or “girly” things, it’s just that illustration in the market place has the most applications with a female customer than with a male customer.  Women respond better to illustration than men do.  A woman is more likely to warm up to a product that has cartoon representations of women around it than a man is to the similar usage of a cartoon of a man.

How would you describe your style?

Girl in Yellow

I was influenced by the artists Ben Shahn the most, and Andy Warhol’s early illustration style, but he was also influenced by Ben Shahn. I actually became obsessed with Ben Shahn’s work in high school, well before I even knew that Andy Warhol had been an illustrator. This is my line style.  I also try to draw things that are uplifting and happy.  But I try to make it not boring. Hopefully I succeed most of the time.

How did you come to use Sharpie markers in your work?

I have always used Sharpies since high school.  They are just the most solid ink pens around. The ink does not smear and it’s permanent.  The classic Sharpie pen also has the sturdiest pen nib with the best shape.

What seems to get the most attention or is most coveted by others? Why do you think people are drawn to your work?

I think people like my work because it doesn’t really “talk down” to them.  I have really attempted to create a style that technically is not intimidating, or seems hard to do, because I am trying to speak to young people out there who are talented in drawing or painting and have the entire world telling them to give it up because “they will never make any money at it”.  I am trying to show these kids that illustration and drawing are a very viable way to make a living. I grew up working class and had a lot of discouragement, even though I was a bit of a prodigy with drawing.

Girl in Green

I draw with pen and ink, and then scan it in and do finishing work in Photoshop.  Sometimes it takes a few minutes and sometimes it takes weeks. It depends on my state of mind at the time, how much of a workload I have, or how long my deadline is.  Or how complicated the drawing is.

What are your inspirations?

I love artists like Dr. Seuss and Charles Shultz. Keith Haring is pretty cool too, and Jean Michel Basquiat.

What statement are you trying to make, if any? What do you want people take from your art?

What I said about showing young people that creativity is a viable way to make a living in this world.

Sharpie’s tagline is “Write Out Loud!” Does this apply to your work and if so, how?

Well, drawing involves a certain amount of confidence. You have to make your mark with skill and ease….so in a way this is like a proclamation.

Fulvimari and friends at grand opening

Fulvimari fans

Serving up some Sharpie art

Plate full of Fulvimari