How I Put Together My Artist Showcase at Kansha Creamery

How I Put Together My Artist Showcase at Kansha Creamery

For the month of July, I had the amazing opportunity to showcase my artwork at a local ice cream shop in Torrance called Kansha Creamery. I created a series of paintings under the theme "Sweet Escape" featuring playful scenes of female surfers enjoying the sweet taste of ice cream, just in time for the hot summer months in LA.

Now that the artwork is installed at the shop, I wanted to share more about the process behind how this collection came together.

Every month, this little shop invites artists from the local community to present their work on their wall. I participated in their showcase back in March 2019 after hearing about the program from a friend. She recommended I reach out, so I wrote them an email in December 2018, and they signed me up!

This was around the time I got my first iPad and started experimenting with digital lettering. I was really into traditional Japanese floral patterns at the time, so I created some illustrated lettering pieces spelling out "kansha," which means gratitude in Japanese. I framed them up and mixed it up with a few other paintings and photographs. It was a cool opportunity to curate a collection that had a cohesive vibe while imagining how the individual pieces would fit together in a physical space.

Fast forward to December 2022, I was starting to feel an itch to work on a personal passion project. I reached out to the shop again and luckily, the owner was looking for artists for 2023. So I snagged the July slot and agreed to reconnect in the summer.

As July approached, I started brainstorming the concept. Since my work evolved a lot in the last four years, I wanted to showcase my latest lettering and illustration style while capturing that perfect summer feel that would resonate with Kansha’s customers. After lots of brainstorming, I settled on the name "Sweet Escape" for my collection.

I decided to create four pieces: one title card with a focus on lettering and three paintings of female surfers. Each painting would represent a different surf phrase:

1. "Hang Five" - A longboard move where the surfer stands on a surfboard and has the five toes of one foot extend over the tip of the board.

2. "Beach Break" - A surfable wave that is breaking onto the beach, created by the shallow sandy bottom.

3. "Surf Check" - When a surfer surveys various conditions at a location to get an understanding of what the surf conditions look like.

Of course, my other requirement was to incorporate ice cream cones in these scenes.

I spent hours flipping through surf books and magazines, looking for inspiration for different poses for my surfers. Once I had my sketches ready, it was time to bring out the easel from the back of the closet and get painting. This was the most therapeutic part of the process since I was able to spend hours in flow state, working on my paintings while jamming to music and podcasts.

While working on my paintings, I also planned out how I wanted to set up my showcase. I had a rough idea of the wall space dimensions, so I mocked up my sketches and thought about what other pieces I wanted to hang up to complement my work. I figured it would be awesome to include some of the prints I had in my shop, along with a little artist bio to give viewers a peek into my world.

As a last-minute bonus project, I designed a custom sticker for Kansha to celebrate the showcase. I wanted it to represent both of us, so I drew a scoop of their famous Mr. Universal flavor, with my surfboard.

On installation day, I gathered up all my artwork, brought along a level, a bag of Command Strip tape, and recruited my fiancé Wes to help out. With my layout already planned, the installation went like a breeze.

It's been a couple of weeks since I put up my work at Kansha and it feels incredible to be part of their awesome community. My stickers were a hit and were gone within a week! I've been getting messages from both new and old friends who went to support the shop and loved seeing my work. It warms my heart.

My collection will be up until July 30 so if you're in Los Angeles, swing by and treat yourself to some delicious ice cream! 🍦


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