Three years ago Melissa Thornton made a sweatshirt for her friend as a simple Christmas gift. The sweatshirt had a straight-forward message of love for where she lives, “Milwaukee Home.” After many requests for similar shirts, Thornton started her own company and MilwaukeeHome was born. Since then you can barely go a day in the city without seeing the now iconic logo somewhere.
Thornton is amazed at how the brand has rocketed in the past few years and loves that it has turned into the unofficial flag of the city.
“What’s awesome is we hear tons of stories about people not living here anymore or on vacation or something and they see someone wearing it. It connects us together,” Thornton said.
In an effort to broaden her brand, Thornton approached friend and owner of Rouges Gallery, Nathan Showers about doing an artist competition for the next big MilwaukeeHome design. Together they created the “What MilwaukeeHome Means to Me” series. Twelve local artists, ranging in age and specialty, were asked to create an original design about what it meant to call the city their hometown. The creations would then be put up on display at Rouges and voted on by the community.
“Our initial thought was they would continue the logo and play with it. The end result became some people did, that some people didn’t which we were kind of excited about because it was their true interpretation of what MilwaukeeHome meant to them,” Thornton said.
Below are some of the artist’s designs and what they had to say about them:
“I’m a very spiritual person and I’m very into the moon and stars and everything and I thought it was something everyone could relate to. It was something different from the beer and partying kind of vibe. So I went with no matter where you are you can see the moon and we have such a great view of it here in Milwaukee especially with our awesome skyline. I just felt like capturing the night scene and the moon represented home to me because that’s the one thing that no matter where you go that’s with you. You know the sun and the moon is something you wake up and go to bed with and you can’t say that about everything.”
“My piece is of Melissa (owner of MilwaukeeHome) holding a heart. I think she is part of an exciting new generation of artists. I didn’t think Milwaukee was about buildings, it's about people and Melissa is on the cutting edge. The thing I love about Milwaukee is that it's always on the verge of being spectacular.”
“I had a few different ideas run through my head, but I knew I wanted it to be a single image that could stand alone on its own. It took some time, but I got into it and had a lot of fun with it. One of my favorite things about Milwaukee is the architecture. So I thought combining certain noticeable sections of some of Milwaukee's landmarks could be cool. The wings of the Milwaukee Art Museum inspired the idea of a bird and it went on from there.”
“I wanted my piece to be very illustrative and depict some of the wonderful things that represent Milwaukee. I absolutely love the character of the downtown area so I wanted to include that in some way, along with some other iconic symbols. I love incorporating typography into my paintings and with this one I didn’t want it to just say ‘Milwaukee Home.’ I wanted to give it more meaning thus I chose ‘Take me Home’ instead. I feel like Milwaukeeans are very loyal to their city and even if they move away, Milwaukee is always their ‘home.’”
The winner of the contest will be announced tonight, Aug. 8, at Rouges Gallery. The winning design will be heat pressed onto attire live at the celebration and will be for sale throughout the night as well as other MilwaukeeHome merchandise. All of the original artwork is for sale and some artists have smaller replicas that they will also be selling at the bar.