A bright colorful mural with a welcoming vibe adds to the fun at the new Garden District Taproom, West Palm Beach’s first self-pour taproom. With 25 taps, a wide variety of craft beer, wine, seltzer, kombucha, and more. Visitors can choose a drink, chill in the upstairs lounge, or stay and play out on the shady dog-friendly patio.
The mural is by Pensacola artist Morgan Summers. Her specialty is classic and vintage lettering and patterns.
“I am heavily influenced by tradeskilled sign painters and inspired by type trends throughout history, midcentury “folk art” florals, and patterns, motifs seen in American traditional tattoo designs, and a touch of maximalism,” Summers says. “The goal of my work is to excite the senses, slow people down to enjoy the process of visual discovery, and add moments of compelling color to ordinary days.”
She studied graphic design at the University of Central Florida. She transferred based on seeing a lot of sign painting work and thought that would be cool to do.
“Studying graphic design, I really got interested in typography rules and breaking them. Before then, I was an engineering major, so I like that they’re structured rules and there’s logic to them. And from there I thought, why not start painting them?”
“I caught some old photos of it. I didn’t even know sign painting was a trade for a long time. I was just like, oh, these are kind of interesting layouts and why do they all have this secret sauce in common? What makes them all feel so similar? I didn’t realize at the time that it was before signs got printed and completed digitally that people trained for years and years to be able to paint these one-stroke characters just from the nature of the brush itself.”
As for how she got the job at the taproom in West Palm she says it was through Instagram.
“I was very lucky that co-owner Rosie Hanson found my work on Instagram and reached out even though I’m not the closest artist in her neighborhood. I think she was looking for someone who would be able to do lettering.”
The owners brought her down to do all the work after a design was agreed on.
“Yeah, I was in West Palm Beach for a week. It was a long week. I stayed in an Airbnb where there was really great food and it was nice to play tourist even though I was there for work,” Summer says.
Garden District Taproom was established by Josh and Rosie Hanson, who love craft beer and West Palm Beach. Due to a feeling that downtown was missing something, they sought to create a place with fun aesthetics, a killer beer selection, and a relaxed atmosphere.
Rosie says “We found Morgan through a Google search for lettering artists in Florida. We knew we wanted someone talented at lettering and her examples really stood out because of the bright colors and details. Plus, when we reached out she was so kind and responsive that we knew it would be a good fit. The finished piece totally brings life to our space. It fits our vision perfectly and it’s so bright and beautiful that you can’t help but gravitate toward it. Morgan was a joy to work with and her mural undoubtedly helps to make the space what it is.”
So what did Summer think of West Palm?
“I really liked it and immediately thought I’d look for other gigs and projects down here,” she said. “I found a bunch of antique shops. I didn’t realize it was such an art-centric town. So while driving on my first day to work on the mural, I saw the arts and areas with tons of exterior and public art. I was really excited to be part of the collection of works downtown.”
So then driving on my first day to get down to work through the arts area and where there’s tons of exterior and public art, I was really excited to be part of the collection of work from downtown.”
While the mural process was relatively quick, public art in general can take a while.
“I’ve done a little bit with the city I live in. It’s a much smaller town, so things move a little faster, but I was astonished at even just to throw paint on a wall, how much regulation and approval is required. It’s admirable that so much has been done, given how difficult it can be.”
The mural was completed quickly.
“The one in West Palm Beach was pretty easy because interior murals are a lot easier. You just have to get the business owner’s input versus something on the outside where usually the city gets involved.”
“They gave me the type they wanted, ”Cheers West Palm Beach”, and they didn’t require me to really lean into their brand colors, but I did as I felt it fit the space. They didn’t give me any specifics about the style of work it needed to be or the type of lettering I should use. It was a tight enough box that I knew what to do to please them. However, it was a wide enough range of ideas and freedom to get something good done. I presented several different design options and I’m really happy with the one that they picked.”
Her first step is to design on an iPad so that people can see how things will look fully fleshed out before committing.
‘I take photos of the space,” she says, “and superimpose a digital version of several different design options. Then, we go back and forth on revisions. People call me an artist, but it’s really somewhere between being an artist and the commercially driven process of design and intentional work versus I’m just gonna paint some flowers and call it a day.”
Summers says the reaction has been very positive to this one-of-a-kind business.
“I’ve been really excited because they just had their grand opening. So, I’m finally sharing it on my own platforms, but also getting community feedback from down there and getting tagged in photos. People are excited to stand in front of it and take pictures and share the space with their families. Rosie and her husband and business partner came in as I worked on the project. They admitted that they hadn’t realized how big it would be. It’s hard to envision, even though you send mockups. It’s one thing to see it digitally and be excited about it. However, it’s another when they finally see it come to life and see the actual scale.”
“I was really lucky. They are very easy to work with and that always makes my job more fun. I might have more work lined up with them. They’re just getting this location started, but depending on how it turns out, they may open another business. But the nice thing about murals as a medium is that I’ve got my little signature down in the corner. This usually leads to more work in an area. So, people will see that mural, and another business might say, I want something like this. So, I’m hoping to make more trips down to West Palm Beach in the future.”
Morgan’s work is at uhbeautifulmes.com. Find her online as @uhbeautifulmes on Instagram and Facebook.