A crying tiger. A drumming squirrel. A wolf eating pizza. A cat with 10 eyes. A manatee with the slogan “Slow is cool.”

These are some of the funkier designs to be found in the Portland Patch Project, a collaborative art project spearheaded by Portland artist Kris Johnsen that creates embroidered patches from local artists’ designs.

“I’ve always wanted to make patches for myself,” Johnsen said, “and I thought it would be fun to involve other artists who would never take their work and turn it into a patch.”

More than 20 artists have participated so far, and the two-year-old project has gone so well Johnsen is considering extending it for a third year, with a few changes.

Each artist who participates gets paid per patch and receives some free patches.

“I would say I’m the curator but not the art director, in the sense that I tell each artist what I want,” Johnsen said. “I pretty much 100 percent let each artist design what they want.”

Most patches cost $7 or $8, and they can be purchased on the Portland Patch Project website.

The patches are also sold in stores throughout Maine – find a list on the website – and are now making their way to other parts of New England.


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