Laney & Lu Cafe Chalk Lettering by Kelsy Stromski

LANEY & LU is the name of the cafe located in historic downtown Exeter, NH. It is a cafe/smoothie & juice bar on a mission to build community through vibrant, nourishing, delicious real food.

I was fortunate to be referred to the project by the new manager who had previously seen my work. It was important for me to understand the brand, collaborate with the owner and find those common design elements she was inspired by. She gave a ton of creative freedom which is always daunting but so appreciated in this line of work. The wall is a huge focal point when you first walk in the front door so it immediately helped set the tone and expectations before you even place your order.

– Kelsy Stromski

View More: http://graindigital.pass.us/kelsystromski

View More: http://graindigital.pass.us/kelsystromski

View More: http://graindigital.pass.us/kelsystromski

I gathered ideas from all over the place. As a designer you can never really ‘turn it off’ — everything and anything you see can serve as inspiration. You just have to be open to it! Even before starting I always request the client show me a few ideas they found inspiring to better get in their heads. With every new lettering project I always try to outdo the last or try something different. (I am also completely infatuated with the work by Paula Scher, Jessica Walsh, Louise Fili and Dana Tanamachi, they’re all phenomenal woman designers.)

– Kelsy Stromski

View More: http://graindigital.pass.us/kelsystromski

View More: http://graindigital.pass.us/kelsystromski

My challenges were the size, space and time.

Size: This was the largest piece to date that I’ve worked on — roughly 16 by 6 feet.

Space: Not only was this the largest chalk wall undertaking, it also happened to be 10 feet above the floor. I was fortunate for the scaffolding to be able to work back and forth but it was not very wide so I was only able to tackle 1/3 of the wall at a time. The ceiling was slanted and the AC was not installed yet — but luckily I’m not a very tall person and I can tolerate the summer heat.

Time: Time is always a factor — this design had to be completed before more pieces could be moved into the new cafe. 10 hours were spent gathering inspiration, sketching and formulating a plan from a small scale 11 x 17″ sketch on dot paper. The first day on the wall I arrived at 9am and closed the place around 8pm but was able to finish sketching with chalk pencil and measuring the piece for day 2. Day 2 was spend entirely with chalk marker. Having a light sketch to follow certainly helped speed things along but for the time saved in the planning process it was taken away by the amount of detail in the lettering, border and patterns which took hours. I am a perfectionist so if I wasn’t happy with any part, it would be erased and redone.

– Kelsy Stromski

 

View More: http://graindigital.pass.us/kelsystromski

Some decisions were made on the spot but the majority is already decided before even touching the wall — I feel a lot more confident when there’s a plane of attack. Not to mention a lot of added pressure was made with having a film crew document the process so it needed to be perfect. There were very minor revisions because of minimal copy changes after the first sketch was approved.

– Kelsy Stromski

View More: http://graindigital.pass.us/kelsystromski

View More: http://graindigital.pass.us/kelsystromski

I absolutely love the final outcome — and I hope many more people will enjoy it as well! But what a lot of people do not see is everything that went into completing it, the longs days, cramped hand and icing my arm on the final day when we wrapped. This quote sums it up well: “Whenever you see a successful person, you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them.”

– Kelsy Stromski

View More: http://graindigital.pass.us/kelsystromski

View More: http://graindigital.pass.us/kelsystromski

About Kelsy Stromski

Kelsy Stromski is the owner, designer and letterer of Refinery 43 — a boutique design studio in downtown Newburyport. She is a travelholic, foodie and lover of beautiful typography. She is always interested in new creative projects especially branding & hand lettering. You can find more of her works on her Behance profile or website.