Chow Bella

Cartel Coffee's Cardboard Art Keeps It Real (Short)

For about a year and a half, Cartel Coffee Lab in Tempe has been slinging some great java. They definitely have put a premium on serving up quality coffee out of their funky strip mall home. They're so crazy about coffee that they host occasional latte art showdowns between valley baristas.

The laid back vibe of their digs appeal to us, too, and we always look forward to catching barista Melissa Marriott's cheeky signs.

Luckily, the cardboard-and-Sharpie creations have been expanded to a wall of witty visuals for Cartel's Cardboard Sign Art show. Marriott, juggling a major in theatre with a focus on costume design and being on the pre-med track at Arizona State, created original works especially for the whimsical exhibit and they keep in line with her playful warnings for pre-caffeinated patrons.

"It actually started as kind of a joke," says Marriott, "but, it's funny - we've had some customers tell us that it's their favorite art that we've had up since we first opened."

We're big fans, too. The amusing signs are succinct, proving the axiom that brevity is the heart of wit.

One of our favorites is one of Marriott's bigger pieces: the name Blake scripted out in huge letters while a tiny "call me!" sits meekly in the corner of the sign.

Turns out that the Blake referenced is a friend and Cartel regular who, when with a limited run of free business cards, opted for a similarly simple design to pass out to the ladies he encountered while party hopping.

While the show is up indefinitely, Marriot hinted that the uninitiated might want to swing by soon since an influx of new and more traditional art is coming up. We would definitely recommend doing so, too, if only to prevent an embarassing faux pas in the future.

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Jose Gonzalez