"All you have to do is ask"
A few months ago I asked a friend of mine, Melissa Washburn, how she got her artwork on a utility box in downtown Valparaiso. She gave me her contact's name and email I reached out to her with a simple message stating that I was interested in creating some artwork for a utility box. I thought it would be a cool surface for my monsters and also add some color to the mean streets of Valpo. A couple months went by and I received an email from Kurt Gillins of the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission asking if I would be interested in doing a box? That was the quickest - YES - I think I've ever said.
The next step was to come up with a sketch and run it past Kurt for approval. I had sent him a couple of sketches that I had for other things and one of them was a recent entry I created for an LG ultrawide monitor contest.
I didn't win the contest but it was fun to do this artwork. He liked the colors I used and that was pretty much the only direction. I got a layout of the box from Andrea Tepavcevich of Digital Graphic Solutions, who eventually printed and installed the artwork. Once I had an idea of the size and space I drew up a sketch.
I started off with this sketch and after I was done I realized that it was all wrong. The placement of the monsters were in the wrong spots. Since I'm lazy, I pressed on and used this sketch as my starting point.
Before I get to deep into how I created this, I'd like to talk about the meaning. I wanted to create something that was fun, colorful, interesting, social and meaningful. The main message is We Are Better Together, it is a call-to-action to the community and those that view this box. I also incorporated positive messages to help reenforce the main message of being better together. The monsters represent the individuals that make up a community. Each one of us are different and should be respected and treated equally. The artwork includes a small game and gives people of all ages a reason to view every inch of the box. You'll have to check it out in person to play along.
Back to the process. Once I had my drawing scanned I started to illustrate it in Adobe Illustrator. There is a function in Illustrator that will auto trace my artwork, but that function is like cheating on a test. Plus it wouldn't give me the flexibility that I would need down the road. Knowing this I began to redraw every bit and piece of my sketch. I drew out every line as a shape, which allowed me to add extra character to my line widths. Here is a video of the process. It took me two nights (10 hours) to illustrate it. You can watch it all happen in 7 minutes and 27 seconds.
You'll see in the video that after I was done I had to reconfigure every monster in order to fit the space properly. Overall I was really happy with it and I'm so excited how it turned out. I huge high-five and special thanks to Jason Monroe for grabbing these process pictures.
If you have a chance to check it out the box it is located on the corner of Lincoln Way and Franklin in downtown Valpo. Take a selfie with it or pictures with the kids and hashtag it on your favorite social media with #boxbymiracletwentyone and I'll be sure to give you a shout back.