Yikes, what downsizing will turn up! My friend Tony (have known him since art school in the early ’70s) sent some pics of me in front of the Escada store on E. 57th Street, just off Fifth Avenue, circa 1995. Some memories were certainly stirred up. Like the fact I am wearing total thrift-shop attire in front of a luxury-brand store. (Tuxedo jacket from my dry cleaner’s sale of unretrieved items, man’s red sweater vest, maybe from Canal Jeans?)

I had segued out of the cut-paper thing that I did in the 1980s, and was now working in loose brush (Keep moving!) Anything that could conceivably have eyelashes got them! (I think I was influenced by Lamb Chop. Or Brenda Starr. Or both.)

My recent obsession with octopuses reminded me of this:

I was hired to paint the entire storefront window murals, and my strongest memory is that I only had a depth of about 4 feet to stand and paint, between the window and the wall. Talk about being “on it!” I couldn’t step back to get any perspective, so I constantly ran up and down the stairs to the street and crossed over to Tiffany’s to see what I had done. I am not one who enlarges by a grid system—I just “eyeball it” and hope for the best. Occasionally I’d get a honk from a truck driver who’d give a thumbs up—equal to any art director’s approval!

Facing the right of Escada is Burberry. In 2001 they would take over the Escada space and I’d soon be doing murals there, only in the fire staircase that few saw. But that was OK. By then, the fire captain who used to detour his truck down from Harlem to wave at me working in the Escada windows had perished in the World Trade Center. It seemed fitting that I would be embellishing the fire staircase. His last recorded words would be in the staircase at the North Tower.

“3 Truck . . . and we’re still heading up.”

But in 1995, he met me at Escada and we went next door where he treated himself to something he always wanted: a Burberry trench coat. He wore it better than any guy I’d ever seen.

My octopus obsession had become a carrot at the end of the stick during the winter of 2020. After the pandemic lessened a bit, the NY Aquarium was again open! I made a beeline to the lone octopus, who was lethargic in the corner of her tank. I guess even octopuses get the blues.

Burberry visual display art for the NYC grand opening on 57th Street 2001

art and words copyright Sharon Watts

Plenty of Plaid-itude ~ From Baby Steps to Burberry


I think I probably learned how to walk wearing plaid. Growing up in the ’50s meant Peter Pan collars and puffed sleeves and plaid (oh my!)

Years later, around the millennium, I would be immersed in Burberry plaid, participating in the company’s makeover from dependable, upper crust yet slightly dowdy British icon to its incarnation of everything hip. Kate Moss modeled and young Japanese fashionistas made a B-line to the NYC 57th Street store. That shopping bag was wallpapering the whole town. Meanwhile, I still couldn’t afford it, didn’t particularly like it, but it was sure fun to draw!

I was hired by the VP of visual display to create a series of iconic British scenes for the flagship store on Regent Street, London, with the loose line and sense of whimsy that had become my trademark. Painted on Arches watercolor paper, my palette was black and white with the traditional beige and red. I lay the line down first, then added the plaid in gouache. Over several years I ended up completing over a hundred paintings for store launches in cities all over the world. After London came New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, and Barcelona. I had plaid Eiffel Towers, and King Kong with a plaid scarf wrapped around his neck as he climbed the (matching) Empire State Building. Barcelona’s Gaudi mosaics were maddeningly plaid, and the Hollywood sign was no longer white, but…Yep. You get the idea.

Campaigns come and go. My paintings that used to adorn all these stores (I even played Vegas) are who knows where, now? The original art was never returned to me, as it should have been. I tried to reclaim it, or at least locate the persons responsible for the accountability, but September 11th had happened and I was distracted and exhausted. To Burberry I was just a vendor. I pushed away all my plaid-painting memories, with nothing left but the aftertaste as a bitter reminder of how so many things in my life had suddenly turned sour.

Last week I got an email out of the blue. A young man in London had been given a piece of framed art from someone’s office in the Regent Street store, after it relocated. A tiny name at the bottom led him to me through some google detective work. Was I the artist, he asked?

Yes, I am.


This one was a self-promotional mailer:

burberry empire stateAnd below is a tiny fraction of the Burberry art that I did between 1999-2002. Back then, I had no scanner and the discs that I obtained were incomplete.

Click on image to enlarge.

So, I “Heart” New York and I love L.A.! Thanks for the memories of dressing you up in plaid.

Breakfast at Burberry's








And one more parting shot, from last year. The scarf was a gift. It is warm.

I still can’t afford Burberry.


all art copyrights belong to Sharon Watts