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Storefront designs stoking the holiday spirit

Artists sending a holiday message on windows.

Retailers are trying to instil festive feelings in shoppers during this truly unique holiday season.

Helping them do that are the artists and designers that give storefronts a holiday overhaul.

Patty Tuttle, owner of Miles Display and Design, specializes in displays for retail outlets and shopping malls.  

From her studio located in the Fisher Business Park, Tuttle crafts the Christmas spirit with novelty trees, specialty props, and even a present-laden Volkswagen Beetle.

“I’d say more people did displays this year because of COVID, just to give people something to smile about,” Tuttle said.

She added that some larger retail centres like shopping malls have tried to go local with their decor this year, which has helped her business.

“We got extra work from people going more local with work which is kind of nice,” she said.

Tuttle added that to drive the holiday spirit, many clients wanted to go with more traditional scenes.

“We found that a lot of people did a more nostalgic kind of Christmas and more traditional,” she said. "It really was better than I thought it would be.

“So we were lucky that Christmas was pretty good for us.”

It isn’t just the big retailers trying to stoke the magic either.

Student and artist Emma Paolini has been creating window murals in Foothills-area storefronts.

The Foothills Composite High School senior, who aspires to become a tattoo artist and primarily works in the artistic style of realism, was initially approached by children’s clothier Sweet Threads on Main in Okotoks to design a mural for the picture window on McRae Street.

Paolini said she enjoyed exploring the glazed medium.

“I was actually quite surprised with how much I enjoy doing the cartoon-style and everything,” Paolini said. “And it's not even just the actual drawing of it, but creating the little cartoon characters and everything.

“I find that window drawings can be very generic, like, you usually see the same thing."

She said she tries to craft the mural to the outlet.

“It's custom to the store and I make characters that fit that store and their values and vibe and everything,” she said.

Erin Risdon, co-owner of Sweet Threads, said the storefront mural serves as a big attractant for her business.

“We wanted to put a little story window out there that they could stop and look at,” Risdon said. “It's fun to see grandmas and grandkids and stuff out there looking at this, and since we posted (on social media) about it, several people have come down just to see it.

“We wanted it to be family-friendly, because this street especially with everything that's been going on has become extra busy.”

Paolini added that the real satisfaction comes from seeing customers enjoy and react to her work.

“By far my favourite part of actually drawing is customers will come in and be like, ‘Wow, this is so amazing’ or just a thumbs up and it's very heart-warming,” Paolini said. “Honestly, one of the coolest things about this is just seeing how much joy it brings other people.”


Brent Calver

About the Author: Brent Calver

Award-winning photojournalist for the Okotoks Western Wheel and
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