4. Racing shell graphics

4. Racing shell graphics - Brown University, Smithsonian Design Museum

The "shark-bear" for the Women's Crew of Brown University evolved through collaboration with Michael Joukowsky, co-founder of Resolute Racing Shells, Bristol, RI.

Charlie designed and stretched a totem-like graphic, based on the Brown Bear, so the lower teeth and tongue appeared to devour water as the shell surged forward. Due to time constraints, he hand-painted the graphic in alkyd enamel as a one-off solution, instead of working with masks and spray paint.

Unforeseen advantages emerged from the hand-painting. 1) The design could be rendered with greater accuracy by hand on curved surfaces. 2) The painted edge of the design was smooth, whereas the edges from a spray mask would require sanding.

The Women's Crew won the National Championship, and Brown University subsequently ordered the hand-painted graphic on every replacement racing shell. The Women's Crew has now won 8 National titles, and students applying to Brown speak of wanting to "race on the bear."

In all, Charlie has hand-painted about 18 shark-bears, including two on "singles" and several on "fours," with the rest being on "eights." One of the "singles" has been exhibited in the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, NYC, seen in the lower-right clipping.

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