Not one to back down after being told no, drawing upon her background in fashion design and textile design, artistic visionary Tracy Hiner founded Black Crow Studios with an idea of covering walls with bold and beautiful watercolor murals. “A real rebel to the core, she approaches every ‘no’ or ‘that isn’t possible’ as a challenge to prove everyone wrong,” explains the brand.
With just a little bit of knowledge about digital printing, a handful of ideas, a $100 website and a whole lot of hustle and drive, Hiner fully embraced her concept turning it into reality. “When I first started Black Crow Studios, digitally printed art murals didn’t exist in the high end market. The closest you could find were extremely expensive hand painted murals. What we created shook up the industry, even though there was a definite learning curve in understanding exactly what we offered in wallcoverings. Without doubt, our hero product was our initial Watercolor Collection and that still holds true today,” explains Hiner.
Using original painted artwork, Hiner scanned and manipulated the art to work as large scale art murals. “Tracy’s eye for composition, color and scale sets BCS apart and her experimental nature of creating and growing as a designer and an artist has kept BCS pushing the boundaries of what wallcovering can be,” explains the brand. A recognized leader in both the wallcovering and design industry, as well as in the large format printing industry, from design work to production and printing, Black Crow Studios handles everything in house. “What’s more, our studio is all women-run. Our team is a mix of badass women with varying backgrounds, coming together to create some of the best wallcoverings you’ve seen in your life.”
While finding fulfillment in her artistic work, Hiner longed to make a positive impact in the world beyond enhancing spaces with her bold and beautiful wall coverings. “I’ve often struggled with the impact I make in the world. I work in a luxury industry that can, at times, feel very superficial—especially when I see so many people struggling just to pay their bills. When people are fleeing their homes to come to the US for safety, wallpaper design feels so insignificant in the greater scheme of things,” explains Hiner. In 2017, she took action first by working with the Caliber Foundation, an organization funding gun buyback programs across the country, by donating 20% of the sales of her Caliber Wallpaper Collection and Art Prints to help get illegal guns off the street. In 2019, she wanted to do even more, feeling a pull to “become a Rebel with a Cause,” she explains, representing a new way for her to continue making art while also making a difference. “By dedicating each of my wallpaper collections to a different charity and donating up to 50% of my personal income from each sale, I feel that not only can I make a difference to the charities that I support, but also serve as an example to our industry encouraging others to take a stand for causes that matter to them,” she explains.
Using art as a means of advocacy and giving back to the community has very much become part of the Black Crow Studios’ DNA. The brand supports a variety of causes reflective of its values including those that empower women, support the marginalized, help the unhoused, educate kids, aid immigrants, rescue animals, save the planet, and offer hope to the addicted.
Part of its do-good philosophy is the use of eco-conscious materials. “We use an eco-friendly PVC free ‘Type II Class A’ material that provides the same durability of vinyl – but with a smooth matte finish and nicer print quality. Our paper is all US made and we work with local suppliers for all that we source,” explains Hiner.
Behind the Scenes of the Caliber Collection featuring BCS’ “Color Bomb Technique”
Known for pushing the boundaries of all aspects of wallcovering, the brand’s bold, “badass” dynamic designs range from its signature Watercolor look to it newer collections that explore varying mediums such as the recently released, experimental and dramatic Vionnet collection. “Forever a student of design, I tapped into my roots of fashion to create the Vionnet Collection. Inspired by my time living in Paris and studying at a Haute Couture School, Vionnet manipulates an assortment of textures into dramatic, epic scenery. By using draping techniques I learned as a student in Paris, the Vionnet Collection evokes a sense of indulgence without pretense by sculpting fabric as would be done in Parisienne Atelier. The collection brings experimental, dramatic artwork into the home or commercial space with an effortless, nearly tactile, monochromatic aesthetic,” explains Hiner.
The brand’s latest collection with the Cuff Studio team is an expanded collection with them, bringing in these new designs last month, including Criss Cross, Raked, Ripples, and Whirls considered the “next iteration of subtle, artful, abstractions” by the brand. Next up is the second round of their Rebellion collection in collaboration with the Academy of Art University. “The Rebellion Collection is now an evolving wallcovering line of large scale, non-repeating murals and repeating by the roll designs, featuring up-and-coming creatives’ work in homes and commercial spaces globally,” explains Hiner.
Being artists at heart, the brand looks to industries such as art and fashion for inspiration. “We also live for experimentation. We use varying techniques and different mediums to keep new, fresh ideas coming up as we constantly evolve. We chart our own course and we’re not afraid of change,” explains Hiner. Forever evolving, the brand constantly updates its collections with new work; releasing new collections several times a year- “when the collection is ready, we launch,” says Hiner.
Taking great care in its collaboration with clients in creating unique and custom, art-driven designs, more than a decade since its start, the brand has accumulated thousands of pieces that it can alter and work with to create the perfect customized wallcovering for a given project. All Black Crow Studios products are made to order. “Our design process involves providing clients with a selection of design options engineered to fit their unique space, thorough discussion of color specifications, and consistent communication throughout the process. All artwork is created by us and the people we work with—we never use stock imagery. We even print the wallcoverings ourselves—something that is rare in the industry. The end result is striking wallcoverings that provide that necessary luxury feel clients desire through a seamless process, from start to finish,” explains Hiner. Notable Black Crow Studios’ projects include WeWork, Shazam, Oracle, Slack, Amazon, Cisco, YouTube, T-Mobile Headquarters, SnapChat founder’s personal home, Four Seasons, Loews Hotel and Marriott.
Garnering attention early on, the brand, in a project with Cuff Studio, was featured in the Luxe Magazine Showhouse at Greystone Mansion as well as in the Holiday House Showhouse in conjunction with Eileen Kathryn Boyd that was published in Traditional Home. “From there, BCS’s murals just blew up. The publications were prolific, and the industry was showing huge interest in learning our unique way of approaching highly customized wallcoverings,” explains Hiner. Black Crow Studios continues to receive recognition both in the form of awards and being featured in a host of publications from Luxe to Robb Report, Architectural Digest, Sunset, Design Milk, Interiors Magazine, California Home + Design among others. It has also been published in books including InStyle and Orlando Soria’s book “Get it Together!” Hiner also takes part in one artist residency per year. Upcoming is her artist residency in Greece at The Skopelos Foundation for the Arts in October 2021. Updates on this and other news can be found on Black Crow Studios blog on its website.
As far as what’s to come on the horizon, Hiner will continue in her endless creativity quest. “Next year I think I am going to go in a new direction and change it up completely! I have a bunch of ideas that I am starting to develop now and so I will see how it goes or let that lead me in a totally different direction,” she explains.