Dig Baton Rouge

Chalk It Up

Ellen Ogden brings her brand of art to local businesses

When Ellen Ogden sees a blank canvas, it’s hard for her to not imagine beautifying that space. Whether it be the walls of Trader Joe’s or the menus at City Pork, her excitement and eye for color elevates whatever atmosphere she’s in, while adding the perfect local touch to some of our favorite spots in the city.

Ogden began doing chalkboard art when she worked her way into the local artist position at Trader Joe’s, four years ago. Starting at a new store, with a lot of art demand, she was able to find a balance between her personal style and chalkboard appeal.

“I’ve gradually been building up my graphic eye and hand, because I have a painting background; I got a degree in painting and drawing from LSU. So I followed a ton of people on Instagram and just imitated until I found the niche that I liked, while putting my own fine arts flair on top of what I culled from social media, visiting other stores, and being socially aware as I travelled,” Ogden said.

Looking at the local flair she’s given Trader Joe’s it’s easy to forget you’re in a California-based grocery store; this is what has helped her show other business owners in Baton Rouge what having a local artist can bring to their space, along with her history in the city.

“I’m a native here so it makes it really easy to be genuine and to kind of spruce up and bring a genuine voice to [the chalkboards], so the intention behind it is just inherent in my present space because I’ve always been here.”

The demand for chalk art has been on the rise and Ogden says it’s a mutual respect between local makers.

“I think there’s a new appreciation for the craft and the hand-hewn or hand-made to represent businesses, especially local businesses, because it gives you an immediate entry into the feeling that they’ve worked hard to be present in the locale, and that they’re from the locale too. It’s the combination of seeing the handwork and knowing its local—it’s like a visual manifestation of the work behind the scenes.”

Ogden says when she’s around town and sees a space that excites her, reaching out and showing her ideas has inspired business owners to get on board with the chalk trend. So far she has beautified BRQ, City Pork, LA 1, KC’s Grill, lululemon, and many others with more coming in the future.

To see more of Ogden’s work, you can find her in front of Tim’s Garage for Hot Art, Cool Nights on May 11, follow her on Instagram, or check out her website at ellenogdenart.com.

Photos by Ronni Bourgeois

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