Details help bring a business to life. A simple neon pineapple in the window of Robin Room. An elegant, floral can of Forage Kombucha. A simple slogan, “Buy Curious,” that enhances a line of meat products. A patchwork of lines that create an apple tree on a bottle of Restoration Cider. The shape of a badger made up of local flora and fauna on the awning of Forequarter.
If you’ve lived in Madison long enough, these examples are likely familiar. Intricate designs surrounding some of the eateries and food products we love most have been brought to life by Art & Sons, a three-person design studio creating iconic imagery surrounding local food and beverage businesses.
Founded by Drew Garza and Scott Pauli in early 2010, Art & Sons specializes in building brands and visual experiences that are bold and authentic. The duo became a trio in January 2018 when Jerry Chapa of Chapa Design joined the team. The three men met back in 2008 while volunteering for Mess Hall Press, an after-school program that teaches area youth the art of design. It didn’t take long for Garza and Pauli to realize they loved working together.
“One day we just quit our jobs and started the studio,” Garza says. Art & Sons’ first big project was working with the Underground Food Collective to open Underground Kitchen (which closed after a fire in 2011).
“We were doing art posters for [Underground’s] pop-up dinners at the time,” Garza recalls. “When they decided to open up the restaurant, it was kind of hard with all the different voices at play, so they called us in. We did the identity and the signage. [We] photographed the place and gave them all the interior design renderings. We helped them get that space together.”
This seems to be one of Art & Sons’ many talents — the ability to turn a dynamic conversation with multiple voices into artwork that elicits a cohesive vision.
Garza and Pauli’s work on restaurant projects took off after the success of Underground Kitchen. One restaurant client led to another, and suddenly they were working on logos, branding, menus and interiors for some of the most exciting spaces in Madison. Art & Sons has done design elements for Umami Ramen and Dumpling Bar, Forequarter, Madison Sourdough, Underground Butcher and Robin Room, to name a few.
Currently, they are working with the Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co. to rebrand aspects of the restaurant’s identity. In June, Great Dane said goodbye to the newspaper menus it has used for the past 24 years in favor of a new, cleaner “zine”-style menu designed by Art & Sons. A redesign of the beer cans and apparel comes next.
Clients usually come to Art & Sons for one of two reasons: they’re either embarking on a new project or have a well-established business in need of new life.
“[The Dane] hired us to stir things up and push them a little bit,” Garza explains. “There are times for revolution and for evolution. We love the revolution. When people come to us as a blank slate and are just starting out, that is like candy to us. But we also know how to take a place like the Great Dane and evolve them.”
Eliot Butler, co-owner of The Great Dane, is thrilled to have Art & Sons on his decision-making team. “Design can assist in communicating the story of a business,” Butler says. “The designs that Art & Sons have brought to the Dane make the brand and business feel fresh and contemporary. It [will] enrich the experience of visiting [our restaurants].”
Art & Sons relishes any project that enhances the experience people have when they visit a bar or restaurant in Madison. Increasingly, this is pulling them toward interior design work. Their first few collaborative interior design projects have been at Mint Mark and Tavernakaya, and now they’re taking the lead on a project at Imaginary Factory. The experimental cocktail space and distillery owned by cocktail connoisseur Hastings Cameron will open in late 2018 on the near east side. It will be the first full interior plan Art & Sons has done.
“We are designing [Imaginary Factory] to be experimental and modular,” Garza says. “It can change shape. It can change color. It can change in theme based on what is being made and what is being bottled. It’s all blank white so you can leave certain aspects to your imagination.”
“The space feels like an art gallery waiting for a big installation to come into it,” Pauli adds.
Art & Sons has been elevating experiences around Madison for nearly a decade, and now the team has started to expand outside the city as well. Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. in Albuquerque, New Mexico — the first Native American woman-owned brewery in the country — is one new project they’re excited about. They’re also working on the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization’s website. The foundation does global humanitarian work and fights against injustice internationally.
“It’s pretty big for us,” Garza shares. “I think people, no matter where they’re at, can tell we’re trying to do something different.”
Whether it’s in Madison or elsewhere, Art & Sons’ designs are leaving their mark.
“It’s cool to influence the landscape we live in,” Garza says.