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The Evolution of a Design: Lawrenceville

Updated: Jan 4, 2019

Using the Lawrenceville location as an example, I'm going to break down the process of designing and painting a Condado restaurant. Check out our conversation with local artist Jewels Antonio for more insight on the process and collaborations during this project.

Early sketches and renderings that were used to determine style and theme for the three different dining rooms at our Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh location. Text by Jewels Antonio, starry space theme by Matt Spahr, and city scape by Brian Holderman.


Phase 1: Planning a Project

When starting any project, most of my decisions stem from our theme, color scheme, and participating artists. We like to hire as many local artists as we can, whether it's through recommendations or personal preferences. I make sure their aesthetics and work ethics match our own, and once our team is assembled, tasks are assigned and we all start sketching and collaborating off site. Paint and supplies are ordered and we're off to the races.


Phase 2: Creating Content

Artists' work from left to right: Anna VanWalsen, Brian Holderman, Lizzee Soloman, Matt Spahr

Depending on our design time, I encourage the artists to create as much content as possible before stepping up to a wall. For Lawrenceville, we had two floors and three dining rooms to cover! My team quickly came up with ideas on layout, colors, content and style---all based on the room and who they were collaborating with. I try to let every artist remain true to their aesthetics and style, but the focus is always on Condado and selling a product. When you work with artists as talented as these guys, though---makes my job very easy!


Phase 3: Collaboration is the Name of the Game

This is a great example of what a successful collaboration looks like. First, Jewels Antonio created a sketch based on my requests, "Stylized CONDADO text that fits over the bar shelving and matches the background colors and theme." Our theme is Cyber Skate Park so Jewels included a disco ball. Matt Spahr has a similar style so we planned on him doing some letters and detail work as well. And finally, as an homage to the Bones Brigade, we created our own skully character bursting through the last 'O' in Condado painted by Brian Holderman. I placed our sketch into a rough layout of the back bar to see if it would fit, and voila! Would you ever guess it took 4 people to execute one piece of text?


Phase 4: Collaboration Continued

Here I'm demonstrating our collaborations mid-project. Sometimes I give artists a blank wall and have them paint it top to bottom with zero collaborations at all. But for Lawrenceville, we had so much space to cover and at this point I knew how far we could take these designs. I essentially had each person working in layers on top of each other. Spahr would paint an entire room with his mountains and starry skies, then Anna, Lizzee and I would come in and paint our Condado characters in scene, Jewels came in and added his Taco Life wall and again, we came in and added some final details. This level of collaboration is based on my knowledge of each artists' skills and their abilities to work as a team. Some spaces don't require this level of collaboration, but I knew I could really push everyone to create something unique and special.


Phase 5: Final Details

This might be my favorite part of any project: when we get to go to our separate corners and fill in the details that make each location truly unique. I encourage everyone to include details on the food, alcohol and social element that comes with eating at Condado. The "Easter Eggs" as we like to call them. My Easter Eggs include a gnome for Julie (the owner's wife) and a caricature of my boss (Joe the owner). We encourage every customer to look closely at our work and try to find those fun details. Condado provides a unique opportunity that combines tacos and art, it's such a no-brainer, we try to make it all look easy. But the truth is a lot of love and hard work goes into these restaurants and it's because of the people that put them together.


Stay tuned for my next post, How We Work: A Contractor's Guide. I will go into detail about what I look for in our artists and what it takes to join our team. We have locations opening in Dublin, Ohio, Mass Ave in Indianapolis, and Royal Oak in Detroit, MI.


For a full list of artists and links to their Instagrams, please check out 9 Lawrenceville in my portfolio.


#condado #tacos #murals #localartists #Lawrenceville #Pittsburgh #collaboration #handpainted #howto

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