This incredible pro-bono project was actually a work-perk – my job has an extensive community outreach initiative that supports, organizes & sponsors charity work & events that help each office’s local communities. The Open Door Shelter in Norwalk was in need of new wall art for it’s food kitchen, & my office was asked to create an uplifting, encouraging & welcoming piece.

Factors to consider included inclusion, execution & maintenance. The shelter receives a large number of visitors with hispanic & Haitian heritage, so after initial designs all featured quotes of some kind, we were asked to include Spanish & Haitian-Creole phrases. As much fun as it was to look for inspiration in elaborate, extravagant pieces, we had to keep in mind our small office of <20 would be executing the mural within a span of three days. Prep, priming & drying time Рas well as artistic skills ranging from experienced muralist to inexperienced account leads Рcalled for simply impactful images. Color was another factor to consider, as the existing molding was a dark hunter green that would be an additional obstacle to prime & paint. Instead, each of our designs worked the green into our designs and built a color palette around it.

Four of us designers spear-headed the creative planning of the mural, & presented a range of options to the shelter directors. We were met with such surprise & gratitude, it was an incredible break from the monotonous branding & passive aggressive client emails we’re used to. Knowing that the work would help inspire & uplift those in need within our community really brought joy to our days.

Inspiration

 

I drew inspiration from London artist Camille Walala – her “Tribal POP” style is really striking, colorful & brilliantly simple. Her use of color is pretty Mondrian-esque, which I figured would suit well for the space as the walls are broken into different planes with structures like windows, insets & lots of small wall space.

Sketches

 

 

 

 

My design featured imagery easy to not only execute, but interpret by staff & visitors of all ages & backgrounds. It was discussed in brainstorms that a lighthouse is a universally uplifting symbol of hope, with Norwalk being home to a few historic lighthouses. I built the I featured the Norwalk coastline as well as zipcode, and a heart marker on the shape of CT to really emphasize the Norwalk community. Quotes of varying lengths & font styles were worked in amongst images of figures joining hands in celebration, plants representing sustenance & growth, & bright, geometric patterns.

Final Result

My boss Mike Alcutt‘s design was ultimately chosen, with the brightest color palette & a combination of hand-painted elements with vinyl decals to ensure quality of the type. With only three days to tape, prime, paint & apply, the office pulled together for a seamless & amazing end result. The days out of the office getting down & dirty were some of the best days of the year for most of us. The shelter was overjoyed with the results, & I was definitely grateful for the chance to give back to Norwalk in a way that was creative & inspiring for everyone involved.

If you’d like to volunteer or support The Open Door Shelter, visit their website or stop by to see the mural in person!