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Chalk One Up for Talent

Amy Dybing, a server at Forager Brewery, also serves as the restaurant’s chalkboard artist.

Amy Chalks a Lot is both the name of Amy Dybing’s company and another way she uses her words when she’s not talking a lot.

As the chalkboard artist for the Forager Brewery in Rochester, where she’s also a server, Dybing is responsible for updating 10 chalkboards, including the one announcing that night’s band. The band board is changed five times a week, and that’s where the true creativity comes out, since there’s extra space for her to draw a picture that relates to the band or its music. The beer selection board is changed a couple of times a week, she says, and the other chalkboards change when the menu is updated. 

A finished chalkboard announcing the seasonal beers on tap.

Most of the chalkboards are up high enough to avoid “accidental” erasing, but the “seat yourself” board—which is at kids’ eye-level—is done with chalk markers, which are more durable. She comes up with her own ideas or scours the internet for inspiration.  

In addition to the brewery and a coffee shop that rents space in the building, she’s done chalk art at other restaurants in town, as well as for events, such as weddings, and even local homeowners’ personal chalkboards. She charges $20 an hour for businesses and $30 an hour for weddings. 

What makes her shutter like fingernails on the blackboard ?

“Misspelling words,” she says, emphatically. Misspelling a word is embarrassing enough on its own, but for her it means having to rework the word and sometimes the words around it. 

Chalk drawings date back to the Stone Age. Chalkboards in schools may be going the way of the woolly mammoth, as white and smart boards replace them, but one survey found that using chalkboards to communicate with customers gives restaurants some added warmth and character, especially when used in social media. 

She’s even taught classes for budding chalkboard artists. It’s a dusty job, but somebody’s got to do it. 

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