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During 20 years in one office on Kettner Boulevard, local design and branding firm MiresBall’s approach to hanging artwork in the office was a bit helter-skelter. The firm owns pieces by many of the designers, illustrators and artists it has hired over the years from all over the world.
“We’d add a piece, add a piece, add a piece,” said Scott Mires, one of the firm’s creative directors. “Everybody here really loves art.”
But when it moved up the road to a new office on State Street about a month ago, the company, which had grown from a handful of workers to nearly 35, decided to save spaces specifically for artwork.
Mires and John Ball are the firm’s creative directors, managing branding clients from huge global companies to small local ones. The firm’s marketing coordinator, Hilary Scurlock, wrote me and suggested we come check it out. Scurlock’s actually the one who originally suggested the idea for this series, which has taken us to Golden Hill to see Ben Strauss-Malcolm’s home collection, to Encinitas for Kim MacConnel and Jean Lowe’s colorful abode and to East County where Mike Maxwell lives.
This time, Shepard Fairey provides the common thread between Maxwell’s collection and MiresBall’s. Fairey’s studio used to be across the street from the design firm. (Maxwell showed us this Fairey print.)
Mires took a chunk of a morning last week to show us around. Here’s the staircase leading up to the office’s second level. The wall’s covered with pieces and prints from many of the firm’s artists and illustrators. There’s a Fairey print, a painting called, “It’s Music to my Ears” by Rafael Lopez and antlers Mires borrowed from a neighbor’s garage that originally belonged to an elk in the 1800s in Orange County, he said.
Working with El Cajon-based Taylor Guitars, the firm commissioned the piece called “Dragon Guitar” hanging above the Fairey print from artist Joel Nakamura. This wall also features a piece called “Easy Rider” from a show by Emil Kozak in Barcelona, a skateboard deck by famed San Diego skate and surf artist Gerry Bustamante and a piece by legendary designer Paul Rand.
One of the firm’s senior designers, Dylan Jones, is co-owner of the design-focused Subtext Gallery in Little Italy. This piece, called “The Frightening of Ophelia Macintyre,” came from one of Subtext’s shows and is by Josh Taylor.
When in Little Italy, the firm was headquartered next door to the late local painter John De Marco‘s studio. The wall pictured below holds his paintings of railroad tracks, “The Crossroads,” and of blues giant Robert Johnson.
Mires has a guitar De Marco painted inside his personal office.
The photograph at the top of this post shows Mires’ office wall, including a print of a 1930s silkscreen poster by Jean Rouille and a photograph of Tony Hawk by Grant Brittain, a prolific skate photographer.
Also on the wall in Mires’ office: a print of artwork for a Rolling Stone magazine article about Jack Johnson by New York artist Marcos Chin and several pieces by Joel Nakamura. The sculpture “Untitled Assemblage” in the middle was made in 1999 by San Diego-based David Adey, who worked for MiresBall before going to graduate school for art and becoming an art professor and artist.
As Mires, an avid surfer, showed us around his office, he made special mention of all of the coast-inspired art he’s collected over the decades.
The firm commissioned Berlin artist Olaf Hajek to make an image for a theater client in Washington, D.C. called Arena Stage, which was performing playwright August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean.” Here you can see Mires reflected in that painting.
Gerry Bustamante painted this surfboard; Mires bought it from a local surfer and photographer. When the owner of Perrier saw it, about 20 years ago, he hired Bustamante to make special edition packaging for the company. He also wanted to buy the board from Mires for $2,000, but Mires refused, to Bustamante’s chagrin.
A print by celebrated typographer Doyald Young.
And from the main art wall, here’s another look at those antlers.
Text by Kelly Bennett, photographs by Sam Hodgson. Please contact them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Follow them on Twitter: @kellyrbennett and @samuelhodgson.