Design Desk

From the Design Desk: Paint By Number Party

Paint by numbers are known for their kitschy subjects like serene flamingos, pastoral landscapes, and snarling clowns, but those are just scratching the surface. The really weird stuff is what I hunt for in my own collection. Skeleton wearing an eye patch? Got it. Kitten dressed up like a fancy lady holding a purse? Yep. William Shatner? Check. Mork ‘n’ Mindy? Of COURSE.

The offbeat subjects of vintage paint by numbers are what makes collecting them so much fun. Anybody can get their hands on a Parisian street scene, but the real challenge is to find a vintage San Francisco scene, or anything set in outer space. Are there actual aliens in the scene? Go straight to the bank and get a second mortgage. Even on Ebay, those paintings are hard to win because their unique character really appeals to connoisseurs with deep pockets.

When a small group of Chronicle creative types got together to discuss new project ideas, the concept for a new paint-by-number kit was born. We kept a classic flamingo image in the mix, but added a new twist on the kitten painting, and threw in a hamburger which, to our knowledge, is the FIRST paint by number hamburger painting EVER. Almost two years later, we had a workable format, five awesome “modern masterpieces” from the amazing Lisa Hanawalt, and absolutely no idea how to turn Lisa’s drawings into paint by numbers.

Armed with a Wacom tablet and a never ending supply of iced coffee, I set about tracing and painting and repainting and retracing and then repainting and then retracing the art digitally until we found a system that worked.

Our Masterpiece Studio will be out this summer! In the meantime, check out the online Paint By Number Museum to get inspired.

You take the Eiffel Tower, I’ll take the poodle with the vacant stare.

Michael Morris
Senior Designer

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