IMG_4568.jpgThe Awesome Shop VT brings their passion for painting to Charlotte

By Geeda Searfoorce | The Charlotte News

Anyone happening past the intersection of Church Hill and Hinesburg roads over the past two months has noticed new display items popping up every day—elaborately painted T-shirts, posters, tote bags and an array of homegrown and evolving signage announcing the newest tenant to set up shop in the only retail space in Central Charlotte. The Awesome Shop VT, Charlotte’s newest business, is the “world’s first temporary tattoo parlor,” according to artists and proprietors Sean and Jana Avram. After months of preparation and planning, the two opened their doors this past weekend to introduce their labor of love and share their passion for custom airbrush art and body paint with the community.

“It’s a remarkable industry,” Sean said on a crisp morning a week before opening. Organizing magazines and other printed items that display artists’ work and new-to-market products, Avram was eager to share his passion for the artwork to which he has devoted his professional career.

“It’s about being beautiful,” he said. “Or about a new kind of costuming. It doesn’t matter what you look like, how big or small you are, who doesn’t want to feel special?”

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Hailing from London, Ontario, Sean has been an airbrush artist for 10 years, during which time he has witnessed a meteoric surge in the industry’s popularity and technical capabilities. When he was just starting out, there were two major makeup companies for face painting; now there are over 40.

“The materials for purchase have exploded,” he said. Recent innovations in the newest water-based, sweat-resistant makeup and stencils have allowed for newer combinations and styles and also enables Sean and Jana to work with more people at a time, a boon to their work on the festival circuit.

“And then the Internet helped crack it wide open,” Jana chimed in. During the Middlebury native’s eight years active in the industry she has marveled at the way technology has had such a profound impact on widening the circle of proponents of what used to be considered a niche interest. Faster connection speeds have sped up image download time, e-commerce has made purchasing materials more ubiquitous, and sharing information and ideas is easier than ever.

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The couple, married since 2011, met at Bodyssey, one of the major face and body painting conventions that draws attendees from around the world. They live in Hinesburg with Jana’s 16-year-old identical twin boys and Sean’s 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old twins. They will continue to run their face and body painting business, Hyper Focus Art, through which they paint faces in Williston during the Maple Tree Place summer concert series, sponsored by The Automaster in Shelburne, and travel to destinations to participate in festivals, corporate events, concerts and private parties.

Last summer, Hyper Focus Art ran a cart on Church Street, airbrushing T-shirts, hats and canvases but found the alfresco location provided insurmountable challenges. “It was too weather dependent,” Jana said. After closing up their University Mall kiosk, which saw substantial foot traffic during last holiday season and April vacation, the two knew they wanted to begin in earnest a search for a more stable setting that still offered them the flexibility to travel.

“We’ve really been planning for a year and a half,” Sean said.

The 200-year-old property on which The Awesome Shop VT will hang its sign is owned by Cyrus Moore, who occupies the five-bedroom main house next door. In back of the retail shop is a three-bedroom apartment, and two one-bedroom apartments are upstairs. Also on the three and three-quarter acre property, which is for sale, sits a barn, some towering willow trees and a sweeping sense that Charlotte’s past, present and future are in dynamic transition at this intersection centered between the eastern and western sides of town. A number of businesses have occupied the storefront over the past several years—most recently the studio gallery of artist Laurel Waters.

Sean and Jana are looking forward to making a destination of the shop, where community members can gather to flip through magazines, play games and watch the painting as it is happening. They believe that temporary tattoos and airbrushing could have wide appeal for couples, families, birthday parties, pre-teen events, paint-and-sip gatherings and for private coaching and workshops.

“I always tell people,” Sean said of the ephemeral nature of his artwork, “temporary tattoos last longer than a lemonade but cost the same.” Using his water-based, waterproof, smudge-proof materials, the tattoos last approximately five days and can provide an invaluable tool for those looking to make a lifetime commitment. “People bring us designs all the time and say, ‘I might want this forever, but I want you to paint it on so I can try it out for a few days first.’”

Now that The Awesome Shop VT is open for business, from 10 a.m.–5 pm every day, Sean and Jana, who predict they will be busier on evenings and weekends, can’t wait to get to know the community.

“No matter how old you are or what your body type is, this art form is for everybody,” they said. “We want people to feel welcome. Stop in and see what we’re all about!”

Visit The Awesome Shop VT website at
theawesomeshopvt.com.

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