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How a colorful poster of brothers in their 80s went viral

NEW YORK (AP) — For years, Miguel and Carlos Ceballos painted posters for neighborhood nightclubs, taco trucks and Queens restaurants, painted corporate basements and tables, and attracted customers by word of mouth. made a living.

Until an Instagram account changed that a lot.

Now, hip Brooklyn ice cream shops and Manhattan retro diners queue up to get one of the brothers’ colorful signs. Demanded by music stores in San Francisco, national restaurant chains, bars in Belgium, and bakeries in South Korea.

It doesn’t matter that the siblings are over 80 years old, or that they were both born in Ecuador and raised in Colombia and speak limited English. They take on new clients and spend their days painting in the Manhattan apartment they’ve shared for nearly 20 years.

“That’s how fate works. Sometimes you find success in later life,” Carlos Ceballos said recently, sipping tea in an empty Manhattan diner. .

Recent commissions have come from a bagel shop in Manhattan’s Little Italy district, a newsstand in Manhattan’s West Village, an Oregon-based restaurant chain, and a pop-up veggie burger shop in Los Angeles. NYCgo, the city’s official guide for tourists and New Yorkers, recently commissioned the brothers to paint Queens’ iconic Unisphere, a giant metal sphere built for the 1964 World’s Fair .

“They have a special touch, they’re so nice and colorful,” said Marina Cortez, manager of West Village diner La Bomboniere. A sign is posted on the terrace.

A poster the brothers drew for Van Leeuwen Ice Cream reads, “A life where there is nothing good or bad.” “Daily specials. Pick two sandwiches of his choice and pay for both.” Read another they did for Regina’s Grocery Store on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. please give me.

Finished in acrylic paint, the Cevallos brothers’ playful, childlike posters have big letters and a nostalgic look. Miguel paints and Carlos paints, producing about 6 posters per week.

Brothers receive between 5 and 20 job requests each week.

The family moved from Ecuador to Colombia, following his uncle, a Catholic priest who worked in Bogota. Accustomed to drawing since childhood, Carlos, Miguel and his eldest brother Victor opened his art studio and poster shop in the Chapinero district of Bogota.

Victor moved to New York in 1969 and Carlos joined him in 1974. For years they worked out of a Times Square studio before rent increases forced them to move to Queens.

In the 1980s, they painted posters advertising a performance at a Queens club called La Esmeralda.

“They pay very little per poster. It was sad,” Carlos said. Posters featured artists such as Mexican singer Armando Manzanero and Chilean Lucho Gatica.

Miguel, on the other hand, took care of his mother until she died at the age of 101. He moved to New York in his 2005 to join his brother. His brothers’ mentor, Victor, passed away in 2012.

Eventually, Aviram Cohen, who creates and installs audiovisual art in museums, found the brothers’ posters in Queens and requested one for his wife’s new yoga studio. In 2018 he opened his Instagram account @cevallos_bros. This has become my brother’s lifeline after the coronavirus pandemic hit.

“I admired their work, but after meeting them, I realized that it all went away,” said 42-year-old Cohen.

he was right The account now has over 25,000 followers and is an archive of their work and a source of orders.

“I love their stories,” said Happy David, who manages the Instagram accounts for La Bonbonniere and Casa Magazines, the Manhattan newsstand she commissioned for her brother’s work. It reminds me of the signs I saw in my native Philippines.

In the digital world, “a lot of people are going back to crafting,” says David. “We want to connect and feel like we have a hand in making this.”

When asked if they plan to retire soon, the Cevallos brothers quickly say no.

where do they get their energy from?

“We eat healthy,” they reply with a smile.

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