November 18, 2014

bear n’ fox playing with chalk!


Well today I’m more than excited to introduce you to Johnna and Max Holmgren’s beautiful family and inspiring chalk-art business. Normally when I stumble upon to something that special I feel so impatient and want to get the word out immediately . But this time i tried to control myself, send them an email and luckily got a big yes for an exclusive interview about their life and work. Thank you both Bear and Fox from Bear Fox Chalk !


what can a Bear, a Fox, and a chalk do together?
We can transform a store front, add character and personality to a space with a whimsical mural, or create magical invitations for that special event you’ve been thinking about having. We can go big and cover an entire wall with a chalk wonderland or small with a personal piece to put on your mantle. Hopefully, we can brighten your day and add something special to your home, store, or event through our lettering and illustration.


why do they call you Bear ? 
Max has been called “Bear” now for years by Johnna. Mostly because he basically hibernates when he sleeps, has a lot of hair, and is a pretty big guy. Oddly enough, he also has an affinity for salmon and honey as well.


why is your wife the Fox?
Likewise, Max has been referring to Johnna as “Fox” for just as long. She’s unbelievably smart, small in stature, and her confidence in life is equal to the bushiness of her tail (just a metaphor. Unfortunately she is tailless…as cool as that would be). She’s also very fast!


how does it feel to be a “husband and wife” work team? 
It feels great! It’s not without it’s challenges, but we truly enjoy working together. We didn’t just start the company together because we happened to be married. We honestly loved collaborating, brainstorming, and working on creative solutions together long before chalk entered out world (we have been together 10 years now) so coming up with a way for us to work together everyday seemed inevitable.

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who is your ideal client?
Anyone who comes to us with a vision and entrusts us to bring it to fruition. We’ve had clients who want us to copy a logo with precision and others who merely have grand ideas and let us go crazy with it. Both can fun and exilirating. We are known to love large scale projects on walls or massive chalkboards and we admit, we kinda like being challenged beyond what’s comfortable and familiar.


what do you love the most about chalk?
We love the look of a great chalk piece. There’s something very romantic and nostalgic about white chalk on a blackboard. It’s as simple as that really. When we first started, we had no idea that it was starting to become “trendy”… We just loved working with the medium and could envision so many ways to use it. In our opinion, there’s a certain style of chalk lettering and illustration that is here to stay and has a classic look that will never go out of style.


when did you start sketching? 
The Bear has been drawing since he was a young cub around 2 or 3 years old. He started dabbling in lettering after seeing his mom’s beautiful calligraphy and lettering his dad would create on furniture pieces in their home. Only within the last few years has he started studying and taking these skills seriously, however. As far as formal training, Max hasn’t taking anything beyond a few college art courses and is otherwise self-taught.


is your job your hobby too? 
If it counts as a hobby, yes! It does not seem like a job 90% of the time and feels more like play and just having fun to be honest. If we didn’t need any money to live, we would still be doing Bear Fox Chalk or something very similar. We are very thankful to be doing this full time and that our little chalk company has received so much attention. While a part of us believes we were in a bit of a “perfect storm”  with a combination of the right upbringings, a great location to start a company like this, and some natural talent… we also worked our asses off and believe our work ethic is second to none.


what do creatives do when they don’t create?
We can’t speak for other creatives, but we are almost always creating, whether it’s in our minds or with our hands. If we get on a topic of a creative idea or project it’s very hard to flip the “off” switch. We’ve had many nights where we start talking about something that gets our creative juices flowing and all of sudden it’s 1am and we realize we better stop or we’ll be up all night. Thankfully, we have a wonderfully chatty two year old baby fox that makes us stop talking and creating once in a while. It’s easy to get wrapped up in that “next project” continually and never allow your mind to rest and dwell on other more important things.


what projects are you currently busy with?
We are working on a lot of collaborations with other local companies that we are big fans of. We don’t want to name any names as of right now as some aren’t finalized yet, but one we very excited about is with Minnetonka Moccasin. Also, we have a couple in-store installations lined up and a lot of holiday pieces that people are wanting to give to family members or a special someone. To add to the craziness, we are also planning the initial stages of the next phase of the Bear Fox world and to say we are beyond excited is an understatement. That’s about all we can share right now!

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which are your future dreams?
We have a lot of goals that we fully believe we are capable of accomplishing. Without getting into specifics, we always want to keep Bear Fox Chalk alive and well, but it will be incorporated (in a way) into another project that we are working towards (as mentioned above). This will allow us keep creating magical chalk pieces, but as a part of a larger plan/vision. Hopefully this will allow us to work on fewer projects each year, but on a more large scale. That’s our short term vision for the business: large murals, installations for stores, and more editorial work with models/products. Beyond that, we just always want to make sure that we are working hard to get better and better at our craft each year and that we always leave our clients feeling as though they got more than what they bargained for.


find out more about Bear Fox Chalk and their amazing projects on their website. Be sure to follow them on Facebook ,  Twitter  , Instagram and Johnna’s Instagram account.

If are you interested in hiring Bear Fox Chalk contact them here. They are also willing to visit Athens so there is a great chance to meet them in person.

(interview by , photos by Bear Fox Chalk instagram account)

3 thoughts on “bear n’ fox playing with chalk!

  1. Stella

    Mπράβο πολύ ωραίο Post γιατί η Johnna και ο Μαx
    μας παρουσιάζουν καταπλικτική και πρωτότυπη δουλειά!!!

  2. Karissa

    I was just in Athens on my honeymoon and I am from Minnesota! Such and odd combination! I loved reading about them! I love that even when you live in two different countries we can all connect!


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