Jun 10, 2015 - Things to Do

Who’s behind the chalkboard art at Leroy Fox, Cowbell, Mortimer’s, Sugar Creek, etc?

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jen-hill-art

Is it just me or is Charlotte getting more and more serious about great design? Our creative community continues to grow. Sounds cheesy, but they add texture to our city. The stuff you can’t measure, but you feel.

Let’s talk chalk. I’m obsessed with the chalkboards. So, who’s doing them? Jen. She’s cool and I respect the heck out of her aggressive breakfast intake (below).

Jen Hill is a Charlotte artist and entrepreneur. A graduate of East Carolina University, she works in a variety of mediums from oils to watercolors to textile manipulation but may be best known for her chalk art that can be seen at restaurants and bars throughout town.

We asked Jen a few questions about chalk art, including where she’d most like to see the City of Charlotte put up a chalkboard for her work.

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(1) What project are you most proud of? 

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I have two that stand out. The Starry Night skyline of Charlotte at Bistro La Bon is one of my best. My other favorite is the Panthers chalk board I did at Mortimer’s last season. I’m obsessed with the detail I did on the panthers’ faces, just like the statues outside the stadium.

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(2) For business owners, how much do you charge?

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My pricing varies by size, how much text they need and how much illustration is needed. It normally starts around $150 and goes up.

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(3) What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever drawn on a chalk board?

I drew President Obama for the DNC at Mortimer’s in 2012. I was hoping the President would see it and give me a shout out.

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(4) Do people apologize to you before they erase your work? Do they feel bad? What’s the most heartfelt apology you’re ever received?

It is a little heart breaking when I have to erase work that I’ve put hours and hours into. The only time things get erased is if the piece is low enough where drunk people or children can touch the board. For the most part people are very respectful and don’t touch the work.

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I have also learned the hard way that some things get messed up due to weather. I now treat the pieces that could be smudged or sit outside with sprays that keep them protected. I also paint some of my boards now or I use prismacolor colored pencils when I make the signs for weddings or for signs that have to travel. Brides always like that because then they can keep the pieces as long as they like.

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I get a lot of heart felt apologies from parents when their kids smudge my boards at Leroy Fox. I just laugh it off and tell them that’s the nature of the medium. You can’t get too attached or upset because it is always going to smudge and smear.

(5) Where do you buy your chalk?

I buy the fancy pastels from Binders. The pigment is so much bolder with the pastels. I use standard white chalk for most of my text and occasionally I use the chalk paint pens. All of which I get at Binders.

(6) What did you have for breakfast this morning?

I eat Sriracha scrambled eggs and turkey bacon EVERY morning, unless I am in a rush then I get one of the fancy breakfast sandwiches at Starbucks.

(7) Where do you wish the City of Charlotte would add a chalkboard for you to produce art?

It would be awesome if I could do some interactive board in one of the bank lobbies or in the Epicentre. A lot of the times when I am making larger pieces I scribble in the color then I go back and use my hands to blend it. I think it would be cool to have a social interactive experiment to see if people would help me smooth in my color or if they would decline. Chalk doesn’t stain like paint does so it would be interesting to see if people would be willing to get a little messy to help me. Or the other issue is to see if people would help me or would they just go off and do their own thing.

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