Bianca Burrow and the Vitale Brothers turned CAMP's vision into a reality. The Vitale Brothers are responsible for the external artwork, AKA the murals and landscape art that make CAMP the visual landmark it is today. Meanwhile, Bianca is the one behind all the Instagram-friendly details and murals, as well as the CAMP swag you see people rocking all over Tampa. Because let's face it- CAMP wouldn't be CAMP without the totem poles or the t-shirts. But what was the inspiration for CAMP's artwork? And since you all are obviously fans by now, where else can you find their work? We interviewed Johnny and Bianca for these answers and more.
How long have you been an artist?
Johnny Vitale: I got started the first couple years out of high school. I was a waiter for a while, and I always did signs for the places I worked for. Somebody suggested that I start my own business- that was about 26 years ago.
Bianca Burrows: I went to UT and did a lot of paintings on canvas while majoring in Art & Design. I also used to work at Pizza Fusion, and when they asked if I did murals, I said "sure," and it kind of grew from there. Soon after, I started working at a printing and sign shop, where I learned how to use vinyl- this is where mixed media came into play for me. I started doing more murals, then CRG hired me as their art director, where I learned the importance of branding, especially for all the restaurant concepts. Now, I've learned how to tell a story about a brand through art.
Johnny, what made you want to get into business with your family?
JV: I'm the oldest brother. As I started along this path, I reached out to my brother, Paul, who wasn't doing great in high school at the time. We were all trying to go somewhere with our lives, so we decided to team up.
Where does your aesthetic come from?
JV: Years and years of doing commercial art. At this point, we have every style under our belt. Basically, our style is all styles. When we do things for ourselves, we lean towards pop art or highly detailed illustrative art. Joey is an amazing portrait artist. Paul can paint anything. I tend to lean towards pop art. I like things that make people happy.
BB: I really get involved with each concept- for CAMP, I made a lot of signs out of wood. I pretended that I would be walking into a summer camp and asked myself- what would you see? I live the brand, so my aesthetic changes.
What made you want to get involved with CAMP?
JV: I've done work for the Lanzas for a long time- we did Green Lemon. Since the beginning of our work at CAMP, I had a real appreciation for Jamie's vision. It was very direct, and she didn't just leave it in our court. She was inspired a lot by Wes Anderson, which was cool.
BB: I actually started off as a server in Ciccio's. I always got involved- at one point, I saw a poster, and since I went to school for Art & Design, I told the owners that it didn't look good. I found myself getting emails from CRG, asking me for my opinion on things. Then, they hired me as a part of their marketing team, which hardly existed at the time. I also had a healthy baking baking company, and I started selling my cookies at Daily Eats. Eventually, when FK became a concept, I started selling my cookies there, and I became more heavily involved in CRG, especially with the executives, at that time. A couple years ago, Matt introduced me to Jamie, and when Matt and Jamie got engaged, I did a creative Save the Date mural on Howard. That's how Jamie and I got super close, and it's only evolved from there.
What was your inspiration for CAMP's artwork? What all have you done for CAMP?
JV: I saw her direction, and when I saw that big canvas, I saw it as a big backdrop, like a camp itself. I knew that I had to do something that made it into a campground, with everything cool about camp in the middle of Tampa. I took it from just being signage on the front of the buildings to wraparound murals. It was a simple concept, but it does a lot for the eye.
BB: I've done everything from the t-shirt designs, to the indoor murals, to the window decor- those binoculars that allow you to peek into the Circuit and Cycle rooms. That particular design was based on Moonrise Kingdom, the Wes Anderson film. We took a boring regulation, where there had to be a peephole in the windows, and tried to fit it more within the brand.
Did you go to summer camp when you were little?
JV: I never went but I watched a lot of summer camp movies. I was actually a Cub Scout but I got kicked out because my parents wouldn't buy me the right shorts.
BB: I never did. My mom loved me too much.
What's your favorite part of CAMP's artwork?
JV: I like the totem poles the best. But it all works together- without the setting they would make no sense.
PS- In case you're wondering, we've named the animals on the totem poles. Mr. Gainz is the bear, Duke Ellington is the elephant, and Mr. Bigglesworth is the cat.
BB: I love the signs over the water fountains. They're so playful, and they turned into a cool way of saying that CAMP offers filtered water.
What's your inspiration for your art?
JV: Before we get started, we like to ask ourselves if this is something we want to paint. If we don't like it, we'll heavily offer other suggestions until we sway our client. We know what looks good and what doesn't. That's our inspiration- if we like it, then they'll like it.
BB: I use Google a lot. For CAMP, I watched Moonrise Kingdom 2 or 3 times. But whenever I start a new project, I'll rely heavily on the brand book, and do a lot of extra research as well. I'll also look at other artists for inspiration. I'll find 5 murals in the area, and pick one aspect from each mural that I like and might want to incorporate into my work.
What's been your favorite piece of art to date?
JV: We just finished something for ourselves, which was a mashup of Disney meets Spongebob in St Pete. My kind inspired me to do it- it's pure eye candy. It's a nod to the 80's, as well, with the checkerboard print, lightning bolts, and bubblegum design. It's super pop art, which I love.
BB: I love the murals that I've done, especially the one in Hyde Park for Surf Outfitters. I also love the bathroom art that I did for Better Byrd in St. Pete.
What do you hope to achieve through your art?
JV: Now, where I'm at in my life, I like art and our company for what we do. We provide a service for people. The artwork has become such a part of us, and where it advances, only time will tell. At the end of this month, a sunglass company, Born in Brooklyn, is having us do mural work for their convention. We're going to do portraits of people born in Brooklyn, which I'm excited about. Projects tend to come our way, so we just keep the momentum going. Honestly, my art right now is really this movie I'm working on. But we are working with Matt and Bianca on a new design for Green Lemon, which will start to come about in the next couple of days, and that type of rockstar work is what really keeps me going.
BB: I hope that people who see my art are able to learn all the great things about the brand, as well as the brand's love for their customers. I want people to get all of that information in a fun, creative way. People don't want to read 10 sentences when they could see it manifested artistically on a wall.
Johnny, tell me more about this movie.
JV: It's about an urban legend that everyone knows in St. Pete called the Mini Lights. Basically, there are these clown midgets from the Ringling Bros circus back in the 40's, and they lived with this lady named Mini Lightning. She was a voodoo priestess. Now, if you're little and you don't get back before sunset, the clowns turn into mini beams of light and they chase you home. Everybody knows about it in St. Pete, on the South side and the North side. So we decided to make a horror film about it. I'm really excited about it- this is what really gets my creative side going these days.
And Bianca, I know you're on our website as a yoga instructor at CAMP. Tell me a little more about that.
BB: Yes! I got certified at Y7 with Jamie this past summer. I didn't initially get certified to be an instructor- I just wanted to deepen my practice. But when I was there, it was all I was doing, so I started really wanting to teach. I still want to teach, but I'm so packed with art, and I'm traveling all the time. Eventually though, I do want to teach yoga, especially Hip Hop Yoga at CAMP.