From Behind The Bar To On The BoardEight years ago, Erin Miller quit her bartending job in New Mexico and made a bold move to Hawaii to embark on an entrepreneurial venture.
“I’ve always been into the idea of being self-employed and doing my own thing,” she explains.
Patrons of bars that include REAL a gastropub and Brew’d Craftpub have gazed upon Miller’s work numerous times, perhaps without giving it another thought. Yes, Miller is the creator of those awe-inspiring chalk menus that grace the interior.
Restaurants have been a part of Miller’s life since she was 15, and her gorgeous handwriting has made her the go-to person to write daily specials at the various establishments she’s worked at. These days, Miller bartends at Tropics Tap House, while creating chalkboard art for a number of local venues.
“I’m in love with the restaurant industry in general,” she adds. “I’ve always liked to draw, and it became this weird melting pot of all my interests.”
She’s dabbled in marketing, journalism and media studies in college — but none of it really captured her interest quite as much as her art. Miller believes a well-designed menu can propel a restaurant to greater things.
“It’s a subtle thing, but it can help out so much of the aesthetic,” she says, “and the functionality is such a cool art form.”
Miller operates under the moniker The Artery of Honolulu, which aims to bridge the gap between artist and spectator and collector. She’s been doing chalkboard art in Hawaii for two years and has since branched out to specialty projects for the public.
An impressive level of artistry is evident in Miller’s work — but perhaps her real skill comes in being able to create her masterpieces in precarious positions. To get the right angle, she often has to stand on ladders, twisting her body into unusual positions.
The job also requires preternatural planning abilities.
“I’m able to walk in and think about how many items they need to put on the board, how it’s all going to be spaced out evenly, how I’m going to measure it, how big I need to write,” she explains. “That’s where my weird super talent is.”
Miller feels lucky to be able to do what she loves and credits much of her success to people in the restaurant industry she met during her stint at Murphy’s Bar and Grill as a waitress: “I just knew all of these people from being in the industry and they knew me and that I was really good with the chalkboard.”
Even when she thinks things are going to wind down, or thinks the demand for her work might be just a fad, someone calls her up with a special request. And in her words, “I’m riding it out for now.”
Follow her on Instagram (@the_artery) or check out theheartofhonolulu.com.