David Haggard III said he sees a set of storefront windows as a giant, blank canvas.
After gifting a Halloween painting last year, and receiving the advice that he should make a business out of his art, he set out to do just that. Soon after offering his window art services online, he had his first client, Nevada County Pastimes.
Haggard said that, although he is a lifelong artist, this was the first time he was paid for his art.
“Just from that, people seeing me do it outside, got me the next one I did,” he said. “The network of businesses in this town, they’re so tightly connected on Facebook.”
In fact, he said, he got all his subsequent clients by promoting his services on Facebook, through the local group “Nevada County Peeps.”
Haggard said that, although he has mostly done winter holiday-themed designs for clients, he has done more neutral, business-specific artwork as well, and “can paint on anything.”
He painted eight business windows last year, all on or before Thanksgiving. As of last Friday, he said he had done five businesses so far this year, and had two more businesses and a private home scheduled for this week.
The first storefront he painted this year was the All Seasons Pools & Spas office in Grass Valley.
Store manager Vadie Nasey said the artwork, done early November, was a surprise gift from her daughter, who had reached out to Haggard and agreed on the design — a snowy scene and row of cartoon animals, including a turkey wearing a Santa hat.
“It brings me to tears,” said Nasey, on what it meant to her that her daughter commissioned this artwork to add holiday cheer to her workplace. Customer response to the artwork, she said, has largely been positive as well. “It’s absolutely worth it,” she said.
Nasey said that, after Haggard completed the artwork, she sent photos of the office windows to the business’ owners, who “thought it was absolutely wonderful.”
On the seasonal nature of the work so far, Haggard said, “If I could turn it into something that was year-round, that would be amazing.”
This November, he said, he began to worry that not as many businesses would hire him for holiday window art, speculating that they would be in a more difficult financial position due to the pandemic.
“But I guess everyone was just waiting for after Thanksgiving, because I still have lots of room to do more, but I got a lot of phone calls and messages (the day before Thanksgiving),” he said.
Asked about unexpected challenges so far, Haggard said painting windows in cold weather takes twice as long, because it slows down the paint drying. He recounted finding this out through experience last year, as he went out to paint a business’ window on Thanksgiving and it took hours longer than expected as the temperature dropped steeply.
Haggard said he generally plans for each business’ windows to take two days to complete, although some have taken up to twice as long.
The first step in the process is a white base coat, which has to dry, and then the artwork can begin.
On his inspiration for the window designs, Haggard said his goal is to make people laugh, something he described as even more important this year as “people aren’t smiling like they were last year” due to the pandemic and other challenges.
“You’re always going to remember something that makes you laugh out loud, so with a lot of the windows I do, I try to come up with something funny,” he said, adding that his hope is that making a storefront memorable will influence people to visit the business.
Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at [email protected].