Today’s Manayunk has become synonymous with arts and culture thanks to its ongoing events and popular festivals. But before it was the Manayunk many people know today, nationally known artist Sandy O! was beginning her career on Leverington Avenue. Her full name is Sandy O’Brien and she began her dream as a one woman show in a studio in the early 90s in a studio near Main Street. Today, her company is called Creative Juice where Sandy has gone on to meld her artistic talent with a truly unique event planning business.
I caught up with Sandy on Main Street recently and asked her a few questions about her business.
Okay so in a sentence, what does the artist known as Sandy O! do?
“I paint naked people.”
How has being a Manayunk native influenced what you do?
“Well yes, I was born and raised right here in Manayunk and growing up I was always quite theatrical. My dad had a roofing business and though my parents were always very supportive, it wasn’t easy getting started as you can imagine. In fact, when I began my business I had one shoe string and exactly 130 dollars to my name.”
Wow, you’ve come a long way. Is there a niche today for what you do?
“Oh, absolutely. Creative Juice provides entertainment all year long at everything from corporate events to kid parties and everything in between. For example, we provided living sculptures at the Phillies 2008 World Series celebration.”
What are some other examples of what you provide?
“Well our champagne chandeliers are very popular as are our living trees. We always bring the wow factor to every event such as our ‘freeze and tease’ performers. Guests at a party think they have been standing next to lovely bronze statues for 15 minutes until the statues start asking them questions!”
What’s a Living Bar?
“We won two international awards for this concept – we are the only company in the world (yep the world) who does this and we are the original Living Bar creators. And what is a living bar? Well, we had a living fountain which by definition is a living statue – usually a marble one – through which tubes and pumps are configured so that water spews from the fingertips of the performer, thus making it look like a real fountain. OK, so one day we were dismantling our living fountain, I said “geez I wish that was vodka”…. epiphany! I bet we could really do that… and we did. So now we take signature beverages and pump them though costumes and bring a bar to life…literally.
That stuff sounds like something out of a movie. Have you ever worked in Hollywood?
“In fact I have. After opening up my studio in Manayunk I decided that Hollywood was the place to learn and really take things to the next level. I worked in Hollywood for three years and on movies such as The Sixth Sense and Godzilla to name a few. Also, my artwork can be seen at Universal Studios and at Disney World.”
You’ve obviously brought that experience to your business here. But are their challenges that you face operationally?
Every business faces challenges so, yes, of course. Logistics is probably the biggest challenge we face. Even if we’re aware of an event two months in advance we really only have two weeks or less to prepare. We hand-make every costume and plume and often need to ship them great distances, even out of the country so there’s customs to deal with. Also, it takes many hours before an event to paint bodies, create human trees and statues, choreograph and rehearse. I like to say we’re actually a logistics company!
Do you see a market for Creative Juices in the future given the economy?
“I do, especially since discretionary budgets are still tight everywhere. Also, one of our biggest challenges is simply getting the word out, since we spend so much time preparing and being creative. As I often say, what we do must be seen in person to truly be appreciated. Once they’re aware of us, event planners love us since our creative team helps so much with coming up with themes and meeting budgets. Also, in today’s economic climate, we offer an escape for everyone from reality. Every person who experiences things such as our living statues never forgets it so you get a lot of bang for your buck. My wish is to always have enough work to continue to be able to employ local, talented and creative people who have a place to perform. We all bring a passion for one of a kind entertainment and really love what we do.”
Can people see samples of your presentations?
“Yes, absolutely. Creative Juice always welcomes the public to come see us in action at our demonstrations. You can even come see a live body painting of someone being transformed into a tiger as we prepare for an event!”
Visit Sandy and her team and view more of their portfolio on their website at http://www.creativejuicegroup.com/.