Two international artists who had never met before used Google spreadsheets to bring a mural to life in Brooklyn.
Marina Esmeraldo, 31, from Barcelona, and Mallory Heyer, 25, from Brooklyn, met for the first time on Wednesday morning in Bushwick at 40 Bogart St. to marvel at the work of art they had labored over for the past month.
When Google commissioned the women to create a mural using spreadsheets they were perplexed, yet excited.
“We were like, what? Why?” said Esmeraldo.
“It was an exciting challenge,” said Heyer.
Google found the artists through Refinery29, a popular website for women that Esmeraldo freelances for and Heyer works for as a full-time editorial designer and illustrator.
The women said they shared the same vision for the mural from the beginning.
“It felt natural to work with women and female empowerment since we work with the subject quite often at Refinery29,” Esmeraldo said.
Michael Bolognino, the product marketing manager at Google, says Google Docs is all about collaboration, and allowing people to work together at the same time, wherever they are.
“The idea of this project was two-fold. We wanted to really push the boundaries of a spreadsheet by asking two artists who had never met to create art in a tool that isn’t used to create art,” Bolognino said.
After the artists finished their work on Google spreadsheets, Bolognino created a PDF of the art and handed it to Colossal Media, the company responsible for physically painting the mural.
The Brooklyn-based mural company used an electronic tracing process on butcher paper that burned tiny holes on key lines in the artwork. Colossal then painted the brick wall white and traced the outline of the mural by pounding the butcher paper onto the wall with charcoal filled socks. It took five days for painters to flesh out the sketch with vibrant hand-mixed paint, converting cells in a spreadsheet to a masterpiece on a brick wall.
The object of the Sheets to Streets project headed by Google was to break the grid.
“For [Google] Sheets, breaking the grid means using spreadsheets as a canvas in a way that’s not intended to be used. For Refinery29 and the artists, it’s about empowering women,” Bolognino said. “It’s about breaking women outside of boxes.”
The mural is comprised of eight diverse women with different body types and ethnicities. Positive phrases like “work hard, slay hard,” and “dream big, do big,” are printed on the figures’ clothing, meant to empower passers-by.
“We wanted to make a mural that anyone could pose with and feel like they could be a part of and show that they have power as well,” Heyer said. “We didn’t want anyone to feel like they were left out.”
Bolognino thinks the mural sends an extremely positive message.
“It clearly showcases female power, and it showcases both of our brands coming together,” he said.
This isn’t the first time Google collaborated with artists from different places. In January, two musicians from Minneapolis and Massachusetts who had also never met used Google Docs to write a song. They were flown to Brooklyn to record “Basement Queens” which was then released exclusively on Google Play.
Bolognino hopes to produce similar projects like these through Google Docs and to continue bringing artists together while breaking boundaries.