Local artist Troy Summerell recently completed his third ambulance wrap for CHKD
If you think a mural only belongs on a flat wall in the middle of a big city, you’re wrong.
One of the greatest elements of artistic design is the great variety in choosing a canvas. For his latest project, Virginia Beach artist Troy Summerell wrapped his artwork around an ambulance, partnering with CHKD and a graphics company.
Instead of an otherwise blank white ambulance, people are met with a brightly colorful abstract underwater design with smiling crabs and flowing seaweed. Named ‘OnieTonie Designs,’ Summerell’s small business is based in Hampton Roads with products ranging from recycled surfboards to murals, branded textiles and designs.
His artwork has already seen the streets of Norfolk’s neon district and Virginia Beach’s downtown. One might even recognize his work in Port Warwick’s restaurant, Finn’s Seafood, where Summerell designed the entire interior for his best friend that owns it.
Summerell’s brightly colored mural on Grammy Street in the Neon District gathered the attention of a women involved in CHKD, who reached out to him for a mural design at the new CHKD Landstown Health Center.
“It was lit up at night, so when the kids and parents come at night to the urgent care, it’s a positive thing for them to see and be greeted with,” Summerell said. “I’m over the moon, it’s crazy that it’s happened so fast.”
Summerell’s other wrapped vehicles includes the design of a seahorse and turtle. His style is marked by the distinct black outline of each animal, bold colors and playful design.
“That’s kind of how I stick to it,” Summerell said, “For me when I started it was kind of ‘be known for something’ so people would come to know me for something.”
Sumerell also expressed his belief in individuality, stating that his work is largely simple and original.
“I try not to be too influenced by too many things,” Summerell said. “I like to keep it to myself because there’s so many people doing art out there that looks like something else.”
During his college years, Summerell majored in Business at JMU and began painting surfboards to sell.
“I was inspired by surf and surf trips, seeing paintings and murals and stuff like that,” Summerell said. “It turned into a business; I just believed in what I wanted to do; I was like, ‘I want to do this, I want to make public art, I want to make people happy, and I want to be in the children’s public hospital,’ and that’s kind of how it started.”
From a business standpoint, Summerell’s plans extend far beyond the local projects.
“My goal is to be a complete designer, where I take OnieTonie and I do projects like this all over the country,” Summerell said. “I want to wrap walls in hospitals and I want to do it in children’s hospitals all over the country.”
Not limiting his business to murals or wraps, Summerell also designs socks with his artwork as part of his bigger dream to have kids in the hospitals wearing his socks as well.