N.B. artist adds touches of gold to iconic New York hotel

·2 min read
New Brunswicker Lesley Johnson is a lettering artist living in New York City. (Lesley Johnson Images/Instagram - image credit)
New Brunswicker Lesley Johnson is a lettering artist living in New York City. (Lesley Johnson Images/Instagram - image credit)

Work by New Brunswick artist Lesley Johnson can now be found in the iconic New York City hotel, The Chelsea.

One of the city's most storied hotels, Hotel Chelsea was once home to Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin and Leonard Cohen.

"It was a dream for me to contribute to this location, it's just such an inspiring spot… there's so much energy there, it's palpable," Johnson told the CBC's Information Morning.

As part of the hotel's recent renovation plans, Johnson was hired to do gilded lettering.

She carved letters out of gold sheets for use on the glass of doors and mirrors.

Lesley Johnson Images/Instagram
Lesley Johnson Images/Instagram

Johnson said it took about eight to 10 hours to complete each sign and the project took a total of six weeks to complete.

"I was there almost every day, really long days… it was quite an extensive project," she said.

Lesley Johnson Images/Instagram
Lesley Johnson Images/Instagram

The Moncton, N.B., artist has become well-connected in the Big Apple, having done projects for restaurants and hotels, Jimmy Kimmel's Welcome to Brooklyn launch party and a Rachael Ray magazine.

Even so, she was shocked when the owners of Hotel Chelsea asked her to contribute to the renovations.

"I didn't realize where I was until I was there and my jaw dropped a little bit," she said.

Lesley Johnson Images/Instagram
Lesley Johnson Images/Instagram

Johnson, who has a fine arts degree from Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., said she first went to New York with hopes to publish some books she had written.

She discovered it wasn't the right time for her to become a published author as e-books were on the rise and needed to find another source of income.

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images
Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

Johnson said she did lettering for her own personal use and, after winning a lettering contest, was asked to do work for a local shop.

"It's just something I always loved doing," she said.

"It kind of found me… people would ask, 'What are you doing now?' I would say I did sign painting and more jobs kept coming my way."