If you have been to any gift shop, art studio or coffee shop around the state, then you have probably already seen Logan Schmitt’s work. From rabbits to bobcats to bears (oh my!) Logan illustrates charismatic nature prints, stickers and apparel, or he transforms his work into collaborative show posters for world-class musicians like the Avett Brothers and Chris Stapleton. His illustrations blend flora and fauna with the fantastical, creating graphically striking nature scenes that feel contemporary yet familiar — distinctly rooted in Appalachian identity.
“Somebody reviewed my artwork for a gallery opening and they called it ‘woodland esoterica,’ which I thought was a really good description,” he said. “I started using that since then.”
“Stylistically, it’s like comic book art, but just animals,” Logan continued, “Flat colors and cel shading. It doesn’t get too realistic, but just realistic enough.” More often than not, Logan told me his muse for these masterstrokes comes from the woods or his own backyard right here in Wheeling.
Frog and Mushroom by Logan Schmitt.
River Otter by Logan Schmitt.
Logan and Rachael, his wife and business partner-in-crime, both grew up in the Friendly City. After leaving for a brief stint to attend the Columbus College of Art & Design, the duo knew their hometown would always be homebase. With a few years in the city behind them, Logan said they knew they wanted Wheeling to be their place to pursue arts entrepreneurship full-time.
“We missed the hills, and Wheeling always felt like home to us,” Logan said. But it was around February of 2018 when he knew it was time to move back. “That’s when this momentum that is happening in Wheeling right now seemed to be really getting started and getting stronger — this resurgence of things to do, and people doing cool things. We wanted to be a part of that.”
Quickly, they were. That same year, Logan and Rachael — now home and equipped with a wealth of knowledge from the Columbus art scene — guided Will Wallace as he opened Clientele Art Studio. This new gallery, studio space and performance venue quickly cemented its place as a mainstay for the creative community in town, attracting an artistic and markedly younger audience in Wheeling.
“We helped figure out how to get artwork in for the retail space and gave some tips and pointers on things that we knew. We helped out there a lot starting out,” Logan described “and now we just go there as patrons.” Whether it be concerts, gallery openings, collage nights or theatre performances — you are sure to catch the couple there on the regular.
Since being back, Logan said that they have quickly fallen into their routine. Most days Logan and Rachael start with an early morning walk from their home near Jebbia’s to grab a coffee at Table 304. After sipping and walking back, now energized from a caffeine-sunshine combo, it’s time to get to work. Logan will spend the afternoon illustrating while Rachael handles packaging and the wholesale business end of things. Together they make a pretty great team — capping off most nights with meetings or events, Taqueria 304 tacos or Avenue Eats burgers.
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When not working on his own craft, Logan keeps busy cultivating the arts scene in town with a newfound seat on the Wheeling Arts & Cultural Commission. He and the other commissioners have been making strides to create art programming that inspires. Just last month, Logan and a subcommittee of his fellow commissioners (with leadership by Bethany Decker) were instrumental in the revitalization of the Wheeling Arts Festival. Hosting it for the first time in five years, Logan said the event saw booming crowds and record-sales days for many of the participating artists. Right now, the commission is working on a mural and public art project aimed at sprinkling art throughout the city’s buildings. Artists can apply now to create a mural!
This is the type of momentum that brought Logan and Rachael back to Wheeling, and what keeps them looking forward to the town’s growth. Logan concedes that Wheeling could benefit from some more nightlife or youth-focused entertainment, and that the town is in dire need of an Indian or Thai restaurant (this author would tend to agree). But, for him and Rachael, life in Wheeling as young creatives is comfortable, easy and all-around good.
“I have always felt very at home in Wheeling,” Logan explained. “I could really live anywhere if I wanted to because I work remotely — I don’t have a lot of local clients. But it’s just easy to live here.” Logan said that, in a way, he already feels semi-retired.
“It’s just a little more chill,” Logan continued. “There’s not a big college or a huge tourist draw around here bringing a ton of people around to gum up the works. It’s kind of slow and quiet. And, if you ever really want to go to a bigger city it is so close to Pittsburgh and Columbus.”
Unlike a more rural town in West Virginia, Logan and Rachael relish in some of the big city amenities spilled over from the town’s historic past like oodles of Victorian architecture, the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra or the Oglebay Good Zoo. As Logan put it, “things like that you wouldn’t expect from a small city, you know?”
So when you see Logan and Rachael at the next underground concert at Clientele or grabbing drinks in Center Market, say hello! Or, you can shop for some of Logan’s work. Brighten up your home with one of his prints. Throw a sticker on your water bottle. Grab a t-shirt. Stock his work in your shop. Heck, even commission him to design something new! Anyway you do it, continue to support the arts and the artists who continue to support this great town.
• Adam Payne is a Wheeling native and the editor-in-chief of YNST (You’re Not Seeing Things) Magazine. He is a lover of Thai food and all things arts and culture with a MS in Digital Marketing Communications, BS in Journalism and BFA in acting from West Virginia University.