“I’ll Have Illustration with That, Please.”

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Tartinery, an eatery that specializes in tartines (open-faced sandwiches), salads and soups, is opening a new restaurant on the lower level of New York’s Grand Central Terminal, part of an overall renovation of the station’s retail and dining options. Right now, the future Tartinery site is blocked by construction barricades. When I walked through last week, I was struck by the charm of the illustrations as well as by how nicely the commuters (most of them oblivious, either rushing by or hanging out on their phones) seemed to complete the compositions.

The Coming soon sign for the eatery

Luckily, the artist, Justyna Stasik, based in Montreal, signed her work prominently, and I connected with her the other day.

Some Justyna Stasik art work

ES: This is so fun. How did you get the assignment?

Daniel Korkhov, creative director at the New York office of BRAT, a Paris-based branding and design agency, contacted me last April.

JS: What was the client brief?

Tartinery wanted to show New Yorkers during their morning, daytime, and evening eating rituals. That includes people commuting with their morning coffee, finding a minute to relax during the lunch break, and winding down at dinner with friends.

Tartinery's illustrations
Tartinery's illustrations
Tartinery's illustrations
Tartinery's illustrations

Did you show sketches first, or did they give you complete freedom?

Tartinery trusted me with complete freedom. We had couple of calls with the owner, Nicolas Dutko, before I started. We talked through what he expected, what kind of atmosphere we want to show in the illustrations. We also established the references together.

Were there any Grand Central Terminal rules you had to follow? They are usually fussy about size of signage and colors.

The only thing I had to take under consideration, not really coming from GCT, was the placement of the lights above the panels, the size of the panels. and the bars attached

to some of them.

Tartinery's illustrations
Tartinery's illustrations

I love the way the people standing and moving in front of the barricades seem to complete the composition. Was that your intention?

The intention was to show people on the go, to depict typical—maybe even a bit stereotypical—busy New Yorkers going about their days. I’m really glad to see the illustrations resonate with the GCT crowd. It means I did my job well and was able to do the NY lifestyle justice.

What’s coming up?

A number of applications are in the works. Some that are still confidential.

The designes items of Tartinery