Eliot Villasis (left) and his older brother Aidan Villasis, both students at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, launched a sign-making business to raise money for Face to Face.

By Pete Mazzaccaro

As the ongoing COVID019 crisis ravaged our area, not only harming the health of thousands, but making many more times that number jobless as business shutdowns have forced layoffs and store closures, two brothers, both students at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, decided they’d do something to help.

Brothers Eliot and Aidan Villasis decided to supplement their online learning at home with launching a business – one that would raise money for Face to Face, the Germantown-based charity that offers food and other services to needy area families.

Combing Eliot’s love of art and design with Aidan’s web design expertise, the brothers launched Villaustrators Studio at villustrators.com. The duo will accept orders and create custom signs for customers and will donate a portion of their proceeds to Face to Face.

The Local caught up with the brothers last week about their project.

For both of you, tell me a little bit about yourself – Age, school you attend and any specific interests or clubs you belong to.

Eliot: I am 14 years old. I am finishing seventh grade at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.  I am interested in art, Legos and Minecraft. I also play squash and tennis. 

Aidan: I am 16 years old.  I am a sophomore at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy where I have attended since kindergarten.  My interests include graphic design and other types of design (e.g., architecture).  This year, for my Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) Capstone project, I designed all the visual aspects of a sports drink (e.g., the logo, label, the bottle, marketing materials). I also run varsity cross country and winter and spring track. 

Tell me about the signs. How did you get into sign art?

Eliot: I love drawing.  My mom is now working from home because of the pandemic and she asked me to make a sign for her door to replace the terrible one she made.  She wanted a sign to let everyone will know that she is working and so that she feels happy when she goes into her bedroom to work.  Fallout Shelter is the first sign I made.  Then we started thinking that other people might also like to use the signs and that we could sell them and give money to charity.  My older brother heard us talking about this and offered to make a website. 

Are you interested in other sorts of illustration art or design? (Comics, Video game art? Fine art?)

Eliot: Yes.  I have made two comic book series, Shell Quest and Head Tales.  Shell Quest started as a fourth grade SCH Curiosity Project and Head Tales began as a doodle on my homework of the main character and others characters were designed based on the main character with altered features, equipment, etc. I draw every night before I go to bed and sometimes too late into the night.  I have A LOT of eraser crumbs in my loft bed.   

 How do you create the signs. Tell me about the paper, the pens, pencils, etc.

Eliot: I think of a theme and then my imagination does the rest. I use regular copy paper. First, I draw the design in pencil. Then I trace over the design with a Sharpie.  After that, I erase all of the pencil lines. Finally, I color it with colored pencils.  My dad scans it and we send it to Staples to get copied and laminated. 

Why did you choose Face to Face as the beneficiary?

Eliot: I go to church at St. Vincent’s in Germantown and our church teacher was involved with Face to Face.  My mom used to make casseroles for the meals Face to Face serves.  We like Face to Face because it gives people who are struggling help with a lot of different things like food, a shower and clothes, and health care. After sharing our business with neighbors, we learned that new neighbors who live right next to us and another neighbor on our street were some of the founders of Face to Face. 

How did you design/launch the website?

Aidan:  the past few years, I have been improving my skills in several computer coding languages (e.g., HTML, CSS, Javascript, JQuery) and in the design process. I first made a color scheme and worked to develop a certain design language that is consistent across the website and serves to compliment Eliot’s signs in a sleek and uniform way. My brother and I designed the Villustrators logo, and I worked with him and my parents to write the content. I photographed Eliot creating the signs in my room.

 How can people go about ordering signs? What sort of signs do you make for people?

Eliot: Please go to villustrators.com to see the different signs and order and pay for them.  Right now, our sign themes are do not disturb, work out in progress, and together in spirit. I’m also going to make signs for businesses and possibly schools about returning to more in-person work and study (e.g., CDC guidelines on keeping socially distant, washing hands, etc.) We are working on happy birthday and some other new signs.  Check our website to see our new signs or contact us through the website with any questions. Thank you!

For information or to order signs, visit villustrators.com

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