Sean Martorana x Philly Love Notes

The best part about running Philly Love Notes and making maps is the opportunity to connect with, spotlight, and help build the Philly community (see Giving Back This Year — news about 2017 soon, #whyilovephilly Twitter campaign#whyilovephilly partiesPhilly Love Letters). So… I’m very excited to announce the new project, #whyilovephillyarts, a series of collaborations aimed at showcasing the amazingly talented artists and makers we have here in the city. 

The Concept

– Commission a piece of art from a variety of painters, illustrators, graphic designers, fabric artists, woodworkers, etc. in their traditional medium. No real guidelines except that it had to be about Philly.

– Create a 5×7 postcard from that original to be sent out as a limited edition of 50 with each of the custom woodcut maps.

– Design a limited edition set of prints to be sold in the Etsy shop (more details to come + link to buy).

– Build a body of Philly-specific art across a variety of mediums for people to purchase with 100% of the profits going to the artist (along with a full commissions and licensing fees).

Artist Collaboration #1

Sean Martorana is one of my favorite Philly artists and is the real reason why I even make maps. If it weren’t for him, I would have never digitized the original and it wouldn’t have crossed my mind to make it into a bigger project. He has truly been one of my inspirations in the city, so I was very excited when he agreed to try out the first artist collaboration.


Breath of Desire

Sean’s piece, called Breath of Desire, combines Harriet Whitney Frishmuth’s sculpture Aspiration, located in the Laurel Hill Cemetery with icons of Pennsylvania — the state dog (the Great Dane), the state plant (Penngift Crownvetch), and the state bird (the Ruffed Grouse) among others. Breath of Desire uses ink, acrylic, white pencil and gold enamel on thick deckled paper to create a final piece that embodies the spirit and attitude of Philadelphians — our passion, loyalty and acceptance.

Stay tuned next week when we put the limited edition prints on sale and be on the lookout next month for a new piece by Sarah Ferone.

Sean Martorana x Philly Love Notes

Sean Martorana’s Breath of Desire artist statement

When asked to create something for Philly Love Notes that represented Philadelphia, I wanted to look beyond the obvious and learn more about the city I love so much. So I started to research the unofficial symbols of Philadelphia that I felt captured the spirit and attitude of the people — our passion, loyalty and acceptance.

I find the creative community here in Philadelphia to be very special. There is an energy that comes from mutual support, admiration, and celebration that doesn’t exist everywhere. I felt that energy when I saw Harriet Whitney Frishmuth’s sculpture Aspiration (1933), located in the famous Laurel Hill Cemetery, and it became the centerpiece of this painting. Ms. Frishmuth was a native of Philadelphia – born here in 1880, and buried near her incredible sculpture – and her spirit and influence lives on.

Included in the piece are other icons of Pennsylvania that I see in the shared character of Philadelphians: the Great Dane for its strength, beauty, intelligence and tolerance; the Eastern Hemlocks for their protection and shelter; the Ruffed Grouse, a hardy bird that is a survivor in tough conditions; the beautiful Penngift Crownvetch, which plants its roots deep into the ground, protecting the land around it; and finally, the fireflies that light the way through the dark.

These are the symbols of life here in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A city of hope, tolerance, refuge, endurance, community and light.

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**Who’s your favorite artist? Send me suggestions! I’d love to try and work with them. You can reach me at 

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