exciting news part 3

Thursday, May 22, 2014

1. an early blog photo hint & my favourite ever coffee mug 2. collage of North America on 22 x 30 - watercolour paper 
3. I created a paisley swirl pattern to layer under the coffee-stained oceans using coffee beans, the star shaped coffee plant flower and leaves & swirls - swirls have become a bit of a signature element in my work 4. collage of Europe & Africa on 22 x 30 - watercolour paper 5. painting my 22 x 30 pattern with a No. 2 brush and transparent raw umber ink 6. collage of Asia, Australia & New Zealand - 22 x 30 watercolour paper 7. I was shocked at how many hours/days it took to complete my paisley swirl pattern but in the end I think it added a lot to the final mural 8-12. - my friend Carmen Mok who lives near Toronto visited this just opened Starbucks location at 1Yonge Street and kindly took tons of photos for me ;-) 13. a mini version of my final photoshop layered artwork !!

I couldn't have done it without you dear Photoshop 

Exciting news part 3 (subtitled yah ! for me) a 12 x 5 Starbucks map mural - My most recent BIG (literally) top secret project revealed. I had exactly 1 month to meet my deadline, 1 month from the morning I enthusiastically said YES !! of course I can create a 12 x 5 foot mural map of the world's coffee growing regions using my own coffee stained, hand drawn typographic collage style - Sure, you bet I can ! 

Then of course I promptly free fell into a seemingly bottomless pit of despair, stress & anxiety. Yikes !! I thought, HOW would I pull this off and COULD I pull it off ? this particular pit, this abyss - a stop along every challenging creative project - was by far the deepest, the scariest & the longest lasting that I can recall. It was the technical issues of creating something that in it's final state would be 12' x 5' that had me so paralyzed in the beginning. Finally after nearly 10 full days of starts & stops & mostly fear I did 2 things that changed the course of this project.

1. I gave myself permission to FAIL. I came to terms with the possibility that maybe I had met my match with this particular project, maybe the technical aspects were beyond my capabilities, if Photoshop was a giant iceberg (which in a way it is) I know and am comfortable with the teensiest, tiniest tip of that iceberg. So if I did FAIL, meaning I'd try and in the end the client wouldn't use my art ... that would be the worst thing that could happen & I can't expect to win every game, can I ?

2. Realizing that I'd need to work large scale, meaning I'd need large scale scanning done I called Craig Yorke at ImageHouse in Halifax one fateful early Monday morning - the smartest thing I could've done. ImageHouse specializes in large format printing and they're famous for working with artists. I knew he had both the technical knowledge and a creative's eye & care working with artwork. Craig and I spoke on the phone many times (& ImageHouse did my large scans) he hand held me, commiserated with me, talked me down from that scary place, cheered me on & in the end complimented me on the final, FINAL art. I could not have done this project without him. Period.

I think I can speak for most designers when I say that Starbucks and it's brand identity, packaging, shop art & decor has always been a company I've admired so to list them as a client is a huge thrill. Not to mention the incredible feeling of faith & confidence in myself that comes with successfully completing (on deadline) such a challenging project. Yah ! for me.  Y-A-H !!

* Joanne from Blue Heron noticed the coffee bean motif early on in my pattern painting photo here ;-)


  1. This is amazing! It's gorgeous. Well done! Is this in Starbucks worldwide? I'm going to keep an eye out here in NYC and see if I can find this and send pictures.


  2. Hi Faith, thus far it was created specifically for a small Starbucks at a new building development at 1 Yonge Street in Toronto part of a revitalization of Toronto's waterfront


    could you send me an email please with your address - 29blackstreetATgmail.com
    Counting down the days until your wedding I bet ;-) xo Susan

  3. Shut up! Starbucks is your big project! That is awesome. And that mural you made for them should be worldwide.

  4. Shut !! UP !! alright. This job was for Starbucks Canada & he found my coffee stained collage work on Etsy - hooray for that also !

  5. Susan,
    Congratulations - this is huge and it is huge, you are a huge talent - oh my.
    The final is quite a work of art, the warmth of the coffee stain and the world cut outs are wonderful. Hey wouldn't it be something if their coffee wrappers (you know the diaper thingy) so your hand doesn't burn were this image???!!!!! Huh - would that be something.
    You have set your world on fire!
    XXOO to you (and love to IBB and the gang)

  6. WOW! This wonderful Susan. Congratulations! I Can't wait to go to T.O. to see this in person. I'm so impressed & happy for you!

  7. I LOVE IT !!
    You did a great job! I'll definitely try to visit it when I make my debut appearance in T.O

    Love you xo

  8. shut up, shut, shut up! the mural is incredible! stunning! 100% totally YOU! omg! i had an inkling this had something to do with starbucks. i even googled starbucks in canada one day, thinking you were designing something for some big starbucks in canada release. you did give us hints, of course. i am just so happy for you! omg!

  9. Yay for you indeed! It is just fabulous. I hope it becomes a standard for every single Starbucks, world wide!

  10. No freakin' way! Starbucks! I knew those were coffee beans... I am so incredibly proud of you and agree this should go global! It is stunning and so indicative of your work.

    I have never seen so many exclamation points in your comments before. That is how excited we all are for you. You go girl!

  11. That is just brilliant!!! We don't have a branch of Starbucks near us here in the UK, but if I'm ever passing one, I'll pop in to check.

  12. Like Julie, when I first saw this I thought "This is so totally Susan Black" and also "This is so totally Starbucks" at the same time. However, I did not pick up on the hints, which are now obvious. I wondered more >how< you could paint all those tiny coffee beans more than I wondered >why< you were painting them.

    The image would make a good coffee cup sleeve, as Kitty suggested.

  13. Wow, amazing!! I am drawn into all the details of this. I especially liked the map cutouts. The swirls, the beans, the flowers, the thought that went into it, the swirls, the coffee stain, the green - it is all just so fantabulously perfect. So glad that you climbed that wall and thank you for sharing your breaking-through strategies. It's so important to find people who can help us when we feel overwhelmed, but can sometimes be hard to figure out what and who and then to actually ask. So amazing...

  14. Thank you all my friends - you have no idea how fantastic it makes me feel knowing you are all so thrilled for me + all the exclamations marks. I feel like I can hear you cheering me on. It means so much more than I think you realize. Loads of love to all of you - my 29 Black Street gang ;-)
    xoxo Susan

  15. Wow! Just wow! So fantastic! So proud of you and happy for you! No wonder you were anxious! Any artist would be and you KNOCKED it outta the park!!! Yay you!

  16. How wonderful! Well done you. I'm sending the link to my friend Shelagh in Toronto, whom you have met already, so she can say "I know the artist!!"

  17. wow! that is gorgeous Susan...you've really accomplished something with this piece.I love it! Personifies Starbuck and is so interesting and well done. Congratulations!

  18. P.S. I also think it should be in all the Starbucks!

  19. This is HUGE news!! Congrats, congrats, CONGRATS!! Love the way you pulled it all together. And thank you for sharing your feelings as you went through the project!

  20. I have to de-lurk to say Congratulations!! It's just amazing!

  21. Hey Sylvia - thanks so much for de-lurking ;-) xo Susan

  22. Wow dear Susan, this is huge, congratulations, I am so excited and happy for you!
    Amazing and wonderful art, your dedication to this project, the many hours of fine pen and brushwork, the fine details, the coffee belt map, your special talent, all so beautiful. Yes it should be displayed in Starbucks worldwide, you are amazing.
    Love and hugs
    xoxoxo ♡

  23. Wow. Wow. Wow! So impressive, and so impactful and so very "Susan Black". Be proud. Be. Very. Proud.

  24. Man oh man...if Moose could/knew how to bark he would be letting loose from our backyard to yours!!! We love love love this piece of work + yes, we are cheering you on...always.This NEEDS to be EVERYWHERE!!! Tail wags + woof

  25. You guys are too sweet - thank you all so much for all the head swelling, heart warming, cheering comments !

  26. Fabulous! It is truly gorgeous, and also so YOU! Well done, and you get a gold star for Photoshop!!

  27. WOOOOHOOOO!!! BIG congratulations to you!!!!! That is totally awesome!! Hopefully, it will get so much attention it will go world wide!! YOU will be FAMOUS!!

  28. Holy crap Susan.





  29. So. Very. Proud. I luh-oove the background illustration. Congratulations on being perpetually awesome :)

  30. Super-Duper fabulous my dear!
    (I too saw coffee beans in your design but did not put 2 and 2 together!)
    Congratulations! It's beyond beautiful!

  31. A fantastic piece of artwork! Great job, Susan ..l love it! I do hope they place this mural in the other Starbucks.

  32. I'm sorry it's taking me forever to get around in the bloggie world but ohh myyy gaaddddddddddd!!! Congratulations sweet Susan! I'm BEYOND thrilled for you!! Yippeee!

    If anyone deserves such wonderful success and life events - it's you! YOU GO GIRL!!!!! xoxo

  33. Incredible news and incredible piece, dear Susan! WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The detail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All those coffee beans, painstakingly drawn and painted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG, wow wow ow. Soooo thrilled for you. You TOTALLY deserve it, Susan. You are one incredible artist. It's so weird that before Alex and I ever knew eachother we both knew you, well of you through your art! She esent this to me and I can;t tell you how much it has lifted her spirits while having been through a lot of pain (from car accident) lately and not being ble to focus on anything longer than about an hour or so. She just told me she want sto read your blog every day again to get re-inspired. Totally. funny, as Alex also recently wrote about you on her one blog. haha, she'll need to add, "Susna, THE premier Starbucks illustrator!"
    I can't tell you how huge I'm grinning for oyu now. It relaly is a GORGEOUS piece and yes, totally you, totally SB too.
    So, curiously, how big in dimensions was the Photoshop canvas (@ 300ppi?) for this? The file size alone msut have been huge, right? Also, did you then take your illustrated background and flip it on the sides to repeat the pattern? I ask as I'm in photoshop for work everyday almost and am really ipressed with how well you pulled this together with your hand donw stuff. GREAT JOB. You are such a pro.
    I totally agree about SB design and art too btw...especially at xmas. Loved their foxes this last year. What's also super cool about your stroy here is how the SB guy found you on ETSY. you didn't even have to make calls there and try to whoo them.
    I so had to laugh at this bit:
    "Then of course I promptly free fell into a seemingly bottomless pit of despair, stress & anxiety." --yes, I can only imagine. I;d be the exact same way. LOL. Well done to that image place too. not every big banenr place does well. Did they actualyl print the piece for you then it was glued to the wall or does SB somehow take your art and print it to the wall somehow?
    Anyway, all this to say, congratulations on an incredible piece. It is a true work of art. I wish you coudl have your business card glued to the corner or something. This is jsut the beginning.
    BTW, we have a "LOVE" door entrance sign outside that looks so much like your work that we bough t it months ago. In fact, I wonder if it is yours has a bird in it, collage, etc, and is printed on metal?
    WOOOOOOOOooooooooOOOOTTTT, Susan. you've made my day. :)


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