I was commissioned by Sailor Jerry Rum to design a ‘Sailor Jerry’ inspired wallpaper - one to be used at all Sailor Jerry Rum events, worldwide. No pressure.
In addition to the designing the physical wallpaper and the “no pressure” part, as part of the collaboration, I was also invited to the global conference in Lisbon, Portugal to paint live at the global workshop and to ‘officially’ launch it. Crazy.
Not only was it was my first time officially collaborating with Sailor Jerry on anything official or of this calibre - it was also my first time meeting most of the global team and and my first time to Portugal. I couldn’t believe it……
Furthermore, as it was the first time Sailor Jerry had done anything like this before, we decided to mark the official collaboration with another official collaboration - so we designed some exclusive Steen Jones x Sailor Jerry merch for the team and VIP guests! Crazy x2.
For those reading and for those that aren’t familiar with “Sailor Jerry” - or simply haven’t followed me for long enough to know how much of an influence and inspiration this man has been to my career, you probably can’t and won’t grasp how huge this was/is for me (which is fine) …but just know, seemingly it couldn’t get much bigger or be more of an honour for me both personally and professionally. Sailor Jerry has without a doubt the biggest inspiration of my entire career.
Ok, so wallpaper.
Not only did the wallpaper have to be designed in a way whereas it could be printed and installed by anyone, anywhere, it also had to be designed in a way that it could be adjustable and altered to suit any pop-up or venue space without compromising the artworks or design.
My biggest concerns straight off the block were;
How am I going to design a wallpaper (given they are continuous/endless designs) in a way whereas the individual designs were going to be butchered when cut/adjusted to size? How can I guarantee that whoever is adjusting this artwork is going to do it right? How can I design it in a way whereas I could reduce the potential (and common) risk of artworks not aligning properly during the installation process?
Admittedly, I buckled under the pressure as I had never designed a wallpaper before ...let alone something of this calibre. After some research, more stress and a few concepts, I came to the realisation ….that the answer was right in front of me & the best way to actually approach this was by actually keeping it “simple”. Go figure.
That said, given both Sailor Jerry and I felt that it was important to pay homage to both the original designs and the classic look and feel of the original artworks, we opted to take the long and hard way and hand-paint each sheet - opposed to being cheap, lazy and tacky by reworking them digitally. Given the nature, scale and calibre of the project, we thought we’d capture and share the entire design process…..

Design Process

By referencing the traditional tattoo “flash sheet” style we were not only able to completely remove the complications of designing a ‘continuous’ pattern (as we were essentially able to ‘build it in blocks’ by using the sheets) it also meant that it would be completely scale-able to any size (which removed any possibility of any individual designs being butchered or overall aesthetic looking cheaply designed or just whack). Furthermore, another huge advantage of designing the wallpaper in this format meant that each ‘flash sheet’/section were essentially interchangeable - which not only meant the wallpaper could be adjusted by theme if need be, it also meant it would essentially have seamless and limitless combinations
From there, it was time to look for inspiration - and given Sailor Jerry has 1000’s of designs - there was no shortage. Once I had short picked my favourites, it was time to start working on the layout.
Once I was happy with the layout, it was time to line-draw said pieces onto the sheet. Once the designs were all on the sheet, it was time to do famous ‘star and dot’ background. Then it was time to coffee stain the background (yes, with real coffee). Once stained and dried - it was time to paint.
Fast forward a few longgg days, it was time to scan the artwork in for the finishing touches - which was isolating each individual design before apply 7 different coloured background options. Once the background were applied, it was time to put the wallpaper together and send them over to the global team …in preparation for global workshop and official launch :)
Once scanned, it was time to sign, number and finish each artwork with our custom made Steen Jones x Sailor Jerry wax seal.

The Wallpaper

As you can see below, the sheets could be joined and arranged in any combination - giving us seamless design - in 7 different colour-ways.

Activation Mockups

 Venue mock ups for inspiration and visual representation.

Promotional Items

Do to the popularity and versatility of the collaboration, Sailor Jerry also decided to license the artwork for the below point of sale and marketing collateral.

Sailor Jerry Workshop Live Paint

With the wallpaper designed and ready to rock n roll it was time to head Lisbon to paint at the workshop and officially launch it!
Prior to leaving, Chin Ru had the brilliant idea of idea of doing a run of fine art giclee prints for the team - which were each finished off with an exclusive Sailor Jerry x Steen Jones wax seal and each gifted to the team on the first day of the conference - which was also the day that I painted live.

The Official Wallpaper Launch Party

Photography: Jeremy Lewis & James Grant

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