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Sandwich board artist helps draw people in

Devin Fields is one of Charleston's most visible artists, and although he regularly gets people talking, his art doesn't hang in a gallery.

He's pretty prolific, too, cranking out a new work every couple of weeks.

But he also faces challenges other artists don't, like freak rainstorms and big lunch crowds.

Fields is the man behind Pies and Pints' sandwich board, creating colorful, eye-grabbing designs that passersby can't help but notice...or post to Instagram.

His work is fittingly funky for a restaurant that puts pulled pork and grapes on its pizzas. His portfolio includes a stein-weilding Frankenstein (captioned "Fire bad, beer good"), Jack Skellington from "The Nightmare Before Christmas," Rafiki the baboon from "The Lion King," The Grinch and a bevy of other cartoon favorites.

Sometimes his designs are tied to an upcoming holiday or event.

Fields created a snowflake Ferris wheel last week for Travel South USA's "Winter Carnival" conference. He replaced that drawing with an abominable snowman, but added a pot of gold to the opposite side for the upcoming St. Patrick's Day holiday.

Pies and Pints also uses the chalkboard to promote its beer or drink specials. Fields drew the classic film vampire Nosferatu last Halloween to promote the beer of the same name.

But other times, he just lets his creativity take control.

"Sometimes it's something I come up with and think will draw attention, even if it doesn't have to do with the restaurant," he said.

Fields said he has been interested in art since he was a child, and went on to study graphic design at West Virginia Weslyan. He got a job at Pies and Pints' Capitol Street location about three and a half years ago, but doesn't really remember how he was drafted into decorating the sandwich board.

As best he recalls, the managers were looking for someone who could draw.

"Somebody said 'Well, Devin took classes,'" he said.

And that was that.

His drawings are mostly done with chalk markers, like the ones soccer moms use to decorate car windows on the way to a game. Fields occasionally uses old-fashioned stick chalk, too, but mainly for rough outlines and shading.

Each design usually takes about 20 minutes in all, although Fields frequently has to stop to help a customer. He keeps the board on a nearby counter top, however, so he can quickly get back to work on the chalkboard.

The Batman villain Mister Freeze made an appearance on the board last month, followed a few days later by The Joker.

Those drawings led one lady to come into the restaurant and ask for Fields' boss.

"She asked for a manager and I was like 'uh-oh,'" he said.

Manager Scott Perdue had a similar reaction, but it turns out the woman just admired Fields' work.

"She was like, 'I love the chalkboard.' She didn't even eat here," Perdue said.

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-4830 or zack.harold@dailymailwv.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ZackHarold.


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