The NFL's schedule release represents one of the biggest days on the offseason calendar, and with so much fan excitement generated around the announcement through social media, in recent seasons the league's clubs have found creative ways to release their slates of games to the masses.
The Seahawks, for example, baked a batch of cupcakes with a unique set of ingredients to help announce their schedule in 2016, and in 2017, Seattle enlisted a sushi chef to assist in the schedule’s roll out.
This year, schedule-release creativity was abound around the rest of the NFL, from the New York Jets’ Mario Kart mashup to the Jacksonville Jaguars incorporating infants into their announcement, one they'd been 'expecting' for months.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, kept things close to the Pacific Northwest in 2018, bringing a pair of local artists on board to help get 12s buzzing for this year’s schedule release.
Kale Lotton, a Centralia, Washington native latte artist and indie folk rock musician, and Jon Norquist, an engineer by trade and creator of the abstract ‘Coffee on Canvas’ art, teamed with the Seahawks for this year’s schedule release project. Lotton used his latte art to signify the Seahawks’ weekly matchups, while Norquist’s Coffee on Canvas provided a set of Seattle-themed backdrops. The end result saw one of the city’s staples being used in an uncommon way to help showcase the Seahawks’ schedule.
Seahawks.com caught up with Lotton and Norquist to learn a bit more about their background, their design process, and what it was like to work with the Seahawks on their schedule announcement.
Seahawks.com: How did you get started with your respective areas of expertise, latte art and Coffee on Canvas?
Kale Lotton, Latte Artist: “It started when I first moved to Bainbridge, I got a job at this place called Hitchcock Deli, so I was a barista there and I had been a barista once before down in Centralia for about a year. I did a little bit (of latte art) down in Centralia, but I really started doing it at Hitchcock. And it wasn’t necessarily something that was part of the job. It’s just something I kind of fell into doing and I just got better at it. There was more so a buzz or a rapport with the regulars, and then the tourists, because there’s quite a bit of tourism going over to Bainbridge, especially during the summer. That’s pretty much when Evening Magazine picked up the story."
Jon Norquist, Coffee on Canvas: “The simplest, shortest story is I spilled coffee one day and thought to myself, ‘I bet I can turn that into art.’ The longer story is, was gifted a pretty terrible coffee pot. This thing, every time you pour, it would spill. It frustrated me to no end. One day, spilled the coffee after months and months of spilling coffee and I don’t know what it was that day, something caught my eye. The cool thing was I immediately had the idea, if I was somehow able to capture the spill and be able to outline it in black ink it would be kind of a compelling design. If I could do that abstractly across an entire canvas or a sheet of paper it would make for good art. So I started to literally tape down butcher block paper all over my countertop and my wife and I, we would literally collect our morning coffee spills. For three or four months I would peel off the paper and then I would outline every spill with black ink and it was incredible artwork. The problem with the paper was it wrinkled, so I tried to iron it, press it, do whatever I could to make it not wrinkle anymore. So that’s what ultimately brought me into putting canvases up everywhere. Then it morphed over time. Honestly, what I do today isn’t as organic as it was back then. It’s morphed over time to where I’ve come up with different processes to do designs and a bunch of other stuff. It’s been a lot of fun. To be perfectly honest this form of art was kind of cool for me because as an engineer I’m very much into solving problems, coming up with solutions to problems, and that’s just the way that I think. So as I first saw the first spill and thought, ‘man, that’d be great to turn into art’ and then basically solving the amount of problems I had to solve to get to where I am today where I think it’s a very high quality piece of art that is literally just spilled coffee. I mean I spill coffee just like you spill coffee just like the next guy spills coffee, it’s just I have problem solved my way into a form of art that’s really compelling, and it’s been fun getting there, it’s been a whole lot of fun getting there.”
Seahawks.com: What was your reaction when the Seattle Seahawks reached out and asked for help with their schedule release project?
Kale Lotton, Latte Artist: “I’ve got to say, I was really surprised when the Seattle Seahawks were getting in touch with me about coffee. It was actually Kim Holcomb (from KING 5’s Evening Magazine) who reached out to me. She sent me a message asking if it was all right to forward my contact information to the Seahawks. I was walking through my front door when I got home from work and I looked at my phone and my jaw just dropped. I was standing in the doorway and my roommate just looked at me and was like, ‘Are you all right?’ I was like, ‘I think I’ve got to sit down to read this message.’ So a pretty amazing feeling. I responded, ‘Of course you forward my information.’ Then I made the joke, ‘If they’re looking for a free-agent signing, I don’t know if they know, but I’m really horrible at football.’ She said, ‘Well, never give up.’ and I said ‘I’ll keep the dream alive.’ But yeah, that was a pretty amazing feeling just because two of your favorite things right there, coffee and football, and I love football.”
Jon Norquist, Coffee on Canvas: “I love it, man. I was crazy excited. I called my wife immediately and was like, ‘You’re not going to believe who wants coffee art!’ She was thinking of every coffee company in the world, and I’m like ‘no, Seattle Seahawks!’ I think it’s awesome that the Seahawks reached out, that it’s for a special thing — it wasn’t just, ‘Hey, give us some artwork that we can put up in our stadium, or in our offices’ — the project was awesome."
Seahawks.com: What was the design process like for you? Where did you draw your inspiration from?
Kale Lotton, Latte Artist: “I didn’t know for sure. Most of what I’d done before were drinks that I was able to serve in a timely manner for customers, so they’re pretty cartoony, little animals or what not that I could hammer out in under 30 seconds. But when the NFL logos were brought up, I thought about it and usually if you’re used to a medium in a certain way, like an art form, you kind of have an idea of what you can and can’t do. So I thought about it and I was at least confident that I could do something, especially when you’re making drinks where there isn’t a customer there waiting for it. But we did have to get them done in a timely manner just so it wouldn’t bubble up and ruin the art. But I’ve got to say I definitely was nervous, but it’s kind of like those good butterflies that I kind of just feed off of, too.”
Jon Norquist, Coffee on Canvas: "I get a lot of inspiration from natural beauty. That’s why I do a ton of trees. The design and form of a tree lends itself to the way the coffee plays on the canvas. The mountains, all of that. I definitely pull from this area. … They had a great vision for what they wanted done, combining both my artwork with the latte artist and building this motif of Seattle with the coffee and kind of interweaving the Seahawks schedule into it. Originally, when the Seahawks said they wanted me to do artwork, I started churning out all these football designs, sending them a bunch of football designs. But they just wanted general Seattle stuff. So the ferry and the Seattle skyline and some other stuff and I thought that was kind of cool that within an artwork some of it wasn't even Seahawks related at all, it’s not even football at all.”
Seahawks.com: What was your reaction to the finished product? What type of feedback have you received from fans, friends, or family?
Kale Lotton, Latte Artist: “So I had got done shooting the video, I had just got off the boat on the Bainbridge side and I got a Facebook notice. It was from one of my old high school friends, and he’s like, ‘Hey, I saw this on the Seahawks Instagram story!’ I was kind of blown away. Then it’s been pretty incredible, just being able to tell family or friends, or them finding it themselves because there’s definitely a lot of Seahawks fans in my family and friend group. Unbelievable. Really stellar feeling to be involved with anything with the Seahawks. ... I’ve done some really cool things with music, played certain shows and what not, but this is definitely, definitely the top as far as art goes in this sort of art form. I guess I never even imagined a possibility of doing this, let alone a project with the Seattle Seahawks, coffee art. It’s kind of a dream come true that I didn’t know existed.”
Jon Norquist, Coffee on Canvas: "It was a great challenge for me, it was fun for me, and I think it was cool for the Seahawks to see their thoughts and ideas turned into caffeinated artwork. We live and breathe football around here; everybody lives and breathes football, so being part of something the Seahawks are doing is awesome. I grew up in Philadelphia and everybody says, ‘Oh, you’re an Eagles fan!’ But I came to Seattle the year before they went to the Super Bowl for the first time and I pretty quickly got swept up into the Seahawks vibe. Even though I’m not an avid watcher, when people ask, ‘who’s your team?’ It’s the Seahawks. I’ve only lived here for a handful of years, but it’s very easy in this area to get swept up into the hype. To be a little part of that was fun."