Coast Projects is best defined as a temple of creativity. Artists, craftsman, adults and children, from beginner to advanced, work in collaboration with others to create something new.
“This guy here is building his first boat. He is a captain in town,” said Founder and Creative Director of Coast Billy Kearins from his location on Stock Island.
Kearins said he specializes in branding and marketing and that is where the company makes the bread and butter … but the Coast Project is something more. It’s a combination open-air art studio, workshop and event hall. He partners with bands, carpenters and different artists from all over the world. Some of the creations are branded with the Coast logo and sold in the shop such as T-shirts, sweaters and skateboards. All of it speaks to coastal living — the mindset, not the location.
“Every shirt design means something,” Kearins said.
A shirt designed with the Cuban flag with the name Coast emblazoned on the side was designed after a group of Cuban artists visited Coast Projects. It’s also a subtle nod to the former Key West-Cuba ferry that used to depart from just down the block. Another shirt features a pigeon holding a cigar.
“This design has an interesting story. A Cuban American tattoo artist from New York who trains carrier pigeons actually had cigars flown from Cuba to our shop on Stock Island. It was a social experiment,” Kearins said.
Another shirt reads “The Love Lane Gang,” named after the band that performs at their BYOB Coast Vibrations concert monthly. Coast Projects also hosts big musical names such as the Hackensaw Boys. Folk singer Mason Jennings performed during an event to raise money for Reef Relief.
One of the current projects underway at Coast Projects speaks to the “small house” movement. Carpenter Will Beights is building a tiny home as a project with the company.
“I want to make a tiny home and travel with it. I think it is a cool project to make one by myself,” Beights said.
In addition to the hands-on craftsmanship, Coast also specializes in creative consulting. One of its recent installation projects was titled “The Merrytime Salvage Christmas Tree” at The Marker Resort on the corner of Elizabeth and Caroline streets. It was constructed entirely of marine salvaged materials and repurposed boatyard debris.
Merchandise and information can be found at the group’s website coastprojects.com, which also has a link to their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter sites. Coast also offers different workshops for kids and adults throughout the year.