Growing a Passion into a Successful Business
Squidly Designs is a New Mexico-based art business created by Jennifer Hernandez. Jennifer creates fun and whimsical designs inspired by animals, nature, and her Mexican heritage. Jennifer started Squidly Designs as a passion project in 2017, where she began selling art prints, stickers, rings, and necklaces of her art. With the help of her husband, Kevin, Squidly Designs began to grow. They were selling at artists' markets all around Albuquerque, growing their brand, and expanding their product lines. Previously, Squidly Designs mainly sold art prints and stickers, but after successful shows, they added tote bags, mugs, earrings, greeting cards, coasters, t-shirts, and enamel pins to their collection of products. Because of their exponential growth and dedicated support from the local community, they had the opportunity to open a brick-and-mortar Squidly Designs store in 2021.
Collaborating to Create an Unforgettable Store
They found the perfect location for their store, on Central Ave (formerly Route 66) which leads right into downtown Albuquerque. Jennifer is a skilled graphic designer with 9+ years of experience. She was able to adapt her knowledge of graphic design to interior design for the store. She began meticulously planning how she would like the inside and outside to look. It was essential to have a bright mural outside their storefront to catch the attention of drivers passing by the store. Not just any artist would do; they had to be a perfect fit. Having seen my Alchemy Wellness mural, Jennifer knew I would be able to provide the perfect eye-catching design for their storefront. I was excited to partner with Jennifer because both of our art businesses are women-owned. After meeting with the owners and looking at the wall, we collaborated on ideas and themes for the mural design. It was important for me to keep a consistent identity with their business name, Squidly Designs, by having squid and ocean imagery, and Jennifer mentioned she liked my robot designs. We decided on a bright and bold robot squid design. This design was sure to turn heads!
The shape of the mural is unique because of the layout of the windows, doors, and walls within the brick frame. The mural is a backward “L” shape and because of this, it was important that the design drew customers toward the front door. I began sketching the mural, and during this process, found the best placement and orientation of the robot squid. At first, there was difficulty fitting all six squid tentacles because originally I designed the squid vertically with symmetrical tentacles. But after realizing this would not work with the wall shape, I tilted the squid to the right and made a few changes to the composition which allowed the tentacles to fit and flow properly along the wall. When choosing the colors, I wanted to create a cohesive color palette for the Squidly Designs store. I chose similar colors to those Jennifer was using in her own designs. When presented the design and color palette to Jennifer and Kevin; they were blown away and eager to get the robot squid mural going.
Painting with Precision
I began transferring the design to the primed wall, using a projector to create a stenciled outline of the robot squid. This process is very fast and efficient and guarantees that the proportions are correct. I started painting the mural in phases by color. After completing the colors, a challenge arose: painting the black outline. Extreme accuracy is required when executing the outline as any noticeable inconsistency could throw off the look of the whole design. By meticulously creating the outline, I ensured the finished result would look clean and perfect from any distance.
Results and Beyond
The combination of the squid theme with my bold art style helped to create an unforgettable gift shop destination. The end result was an eye-catching mural and a successful new store. Since the store’s opening in 2021, the mural has drawn in many neighbors, drivers, and tourists to their shop and continues to do so. They have also held a few “Squidly Fest” events at their store where they bring together local artists and food vendors. These events have massive turnouts and are very successful for the store and vendors. The Squidly Designs store has had their most profitable days because of the Squidly Fest events. People are often seen taking their photos with the mural.
Since completing this project, I have also expanded my partnership with Squidly Designs in different ways. They offer a selection of my digital art prints, stickers, enamel pins, and greeting cards in their store. We have also done several other projects together. I painted additional signage on their windows saying “Shop Local” and “Art & Handmade Goods.” Our most recent project was for their one-year anniversary at their brick-and-mortar store, where I created additional robot squid designs for t-shirts, tote bags, stickers, and postcards.
I am so grateful to have had the chance to collaborate with amazing artists here in New Mexico, especially artists like Jennifer Hernandez who bring joy to the Albuquerque community. Working on this project together was an enjoyable experience from start to finish, and I learned a great deal along the way. The robot squid mural will be enjoyed by many New Mexicans, tourists, shoppers, and the store owners for many years to come.