Chalk It Up to The Arts

Though it originated in the 16th century, chalk art experienced a significant comeback recently when the world found itself in quarantine. Artists found it as a way to display their works to the public without close contact, and others found a new hobby in the craft. With nowhere to go but outside, masterpieces started popping up on driveways and sidewalks across America. Even the less artistic enjoyed pops of color and inspiration around every corner during their morning walks around the block. Since then, the artform has come back in full swing and Gwinnett has embraced it.

On the morning of August 6, chalk artists from all over Gwinnett gathered at the Lawrenceville Arts Center to face off in a friendly Mary Poppins-themed sidewalk chalk competition known as the Chalk Walk. Max Eve, a long-time Chalk Walk competitor and muralist, was among those crouched over concrete canvases, working until the last minute to perfect their piece. For Max, chalk art is more than just a fun hobby. It’s one of the ways he makes his living.

I know you’re a multi-faceted artist, but what drew you to chalk art specifically? How long have you been doing chalk art?

“During my twenties, I worked at a Johnny’s Pizza and would write the specials on a chalkboard during my shifts. Before long, I found plenty of things to draw on in the restaurant and had fallen in love with the medium! The customers and my coworkers recognized me as a good artist, which encouraged me. 

I eventually did a mural on one of the walls there (Super Mario themed), where I began using professional quality chalks or soft pastels. It only took a few weeks for me to be contacted to do another at a local bar. I was given more work exponentially through word of mouth and exposure.”

I didn’t know chalk murals could be displayed on walls! I see most of yours are done like this. Are there any unique processes you go through to ensure the chalk properly adheres to the wall?

“I tend to get different results when sealing the artwork based on the surface. I’ve found that applying a finely misted hairspray followed by stronger lacquer works best. However, I have learned most of this process through trial and error due to a lack of information online.”

What has been your favorite chalk mural to work on? Why?

“I really enjoyed my mural at Normaltown Brewery in Athens. I did the work during covid, which gave me more time to make sure it was something I was proud of; likewise, it is the most significant piece I’ve done to date. It’s always a fun bonus being trapped in a building with delicious beers to drink!

I have enjoyed any murals I’ve done where I have had free reign on the subject matter. Seeing people appreciate pieces that better represent an artist’s style is always rewarding!”

Most of your art has a similar look & feel. What’s the inspiration behind the colorful, collage-like pieces?

“I like vibrant colors and try my best to include a diverse palette in my work, which has yielded my colorful style! I try to spend more energy on gradation and blending rather than linework. I tend to feel limited when trying realistic work with chalk and am better at doing paint. My chalk murals are simpler with bold line work and cartoony.”

Are there any parallels between your murals and your other art? (Painting, music)

“I think so! When writing music, I always begin a song without a plan and end up in a place I don’t expect, usually a longer composition than the average musician. I complete my murals in a similar way. When I get into a project and the ideas start flowing onto the wall or canvas, I feel that same excitement from music. 

Spontaneity and newness are things that I strive to include in my crafts, while meticulous planning does not always work for me. I do my best to grow along with my art and into my art.”

Where can Gwinnettians go in the area to see your work on display?

“Johnny’s Pizza: Lawrenceville and Grayson locations, Moonshiner’s Bar and Grill in Grayson and Monkey Wrench Brewery in Suwanee are some places around town!

What’s in store for your art in the future?

“I am currently painting a few house walls for nurseries and managers. I hope to begin another mural at Monkeywrench Brewery soon. I am much busier as a musician at present and always feel fortunate to have art to fall back on in my spare time so that I don’t burn out on one thing. That said, I tend to take commissions as they come and decide what medium needs to be used based on the job.”