Paul Valente – 7 (really 8) Design Questions Interview
1. How long have you been a designer?
I have been doing some form of art/design for probably 5 years now.
2. What exactly is your medium, and how did you come about using it to create your artwork?
Currently my focus now is almost completely on chalk artwork and sign making. I work with various types of chalk (pastels) to produce my artwork . The exact types and brands I use are kind of a trade secret, since, over time I have developed a way create chalk artwork that does not smudge. It wasn’t an easy process and took a lot of experimenting. For a while my house was filled with little 12″ x 12″ chalkboards with all sorts of test materials on them. They all had little notes on the back explaining what I had used, since it was getting pretty easy to lose track of what was what.
In art school I had always loved working with Conte’ and charcoal. I think partly because you get really involved with it when you are blending it. It’s messy stuff and you really “get your hands dirty”. But it was during my time at Trader Joe’s that I began working with other types of chalk and that is what lead me to what I do now.
3. What’s the process, and how long does a typical project take you to complete?
I start by working out some rough sketches and getting feedback from the client along the way. I then get a fairly detailed sketch showing the layout of the text and the location of the graphics if there will be any. This can be time consuming up front, but it’s done to help both the client and myself. Especially on larger boards I really like to have as much of the layout finalized before I even touch the board. I think this is very different than the way the majority of chalkboard signs are done. Usually someone just gets up on a ladder and starts writing, which is actually how I started myself. But I am really trying to make it a professional service. The time really depends on the size and the amount of text. I would say anywhere from a few days to about a week, from start to finish.
4. How long have you been doing this type of design?
I have been making hand drawn chalk signs for almost 4 years.
5. Is your design something that makes you money as a viable business? What made you decide to do it on a full-time basis?
This is my fulltime job, along with other freelance art projects. I also have been getting into web design, as well. I had been working full-time as a sign artist at a Trader Joe’s in Scottsdale, AZ. During that time I picked up a few side jobs doing chalk signs locally and started thinking about how I could make the transition out of Trader Joe’s to making signs on my own full time. The real push to make the jump to be self-employed came as Trader Joe’s started to allocate less time and money for sign making. That was when I figured it was time to make it happen.
6. How do you come up with the designs when you are drawing them out in the idea stages?
I always try to have my signs tie in to other visual elements of the businesses I am doing the work for. So I have my clients send me supporting images, like their logos, pictures of the interior of their business, and color schemes they may already have in place. I try to create signs that will really feel like part of their location. So I usually don’t work from scratch, but I have done designs that ended up being used as the company’s logo and some have ended up being used for print in actual menus. I am planning on doing more of this kind of thing, where my hand drawn images get used for print and the web. I think that is a next step for me.
7. Can you show us an image of some step by steps of a project you created?
Here is sign I did for a home basement bar. It shows some of the drafts that lead up to the final piece.
8. Since you have been doing this for years, what’s your favorite project so far, and why?
One of the boards I just finished was probably a favorite, just because of the size of it. It was 11 feet by 4 feet and had to be done in 3 sections for shipping reasons. So the size added a bit of difficulty but it is pretty satisfying seeing the end result of something that big. I draw a lot of food images, and this one had some fun elements. For instance, I had to make a 18″ cheese steak covered in cheese, based off of their signature sub.
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