San Diego's Ocean Beach

Peninsula Graphics

When it comes to inspiration, Bob Sorben is just about as close as it gets to springtime.

But while April paints in colors, Sorben creates his designs in black and white.

Working out of a corner office at the intersection of Scott and Canon streets in San Diego, the artist operates a full-service print shop called Peninsula Graphics and has a decidedly nautical inclination.

With the help of his wife, Sue, he offers everything from logos to stationary to wedding invitations.

"I specialize in combining pen and ink with artistic-type styles," Sorben told us in a recent interview. "I like to create designs that tell a story."

And, tell a story he does. His 1973 design of the famous Ocean Beach logo has won local and regional attention, and in 1995 he was the recipient of a $10,000 Anheuser-Busch award.

Peninsula GraphicsThe award was given to Sorben for his pen-and-ink rendition of Rodin's "The Thinker," cleverly drawn with a baseball cap on backwards. It competed against entries of students from over 2,000 colleges across the country that submitted artistic ideas promoting alcohol awareness.

Although Sorben has a special love for pen and ink, his company offers printing, silk screens, and designs in color as well as black and white.

Both Bob and Sue are native to Point Loma and knew each other in high school. An 18-year courtship culminated in marriage in 2000 when Sue finally landed the peninsula's most eligible bachelor.

If Sue is not exactly Bob's muse, she certainly is a co-conspirator. "The hat backwards on the Anheuser-Busch entry was Sue's idea," Bob revealed. "At the time, not many people were wearing their hats that way, but it made the drawing look like a college student.

"Everywhere I go I'm thinking of ideas and things to draw," Bob added. "I don't have a problem being creative because I do it all the time."

A look around Peninsula Graphics is like a walk through San Diego. Logos and artwork decorate the walls and reflect the wide range of clientele who rely on the artist.

From the Prado to the Brigantine, restaurant logos show the range of Sorben's talent. There's even a logo from the once-omnipresent Chart House chain.

"I can usually come up with what the customer wants," Bob said. "But sometimes it's more difficult to get exactly what they have in mind, and I'll have to put a lot of time into thumbing through magazines for just the right idea."

At other times, as when he worked on the Prado design, Bob only has to add a palm tree. "They already had most of the artwork," he said. "It only needed one small touch."

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, Sorben is offering original drawings of maritime themes for those who wish to send unique cards to their friends. "It adds a special touch," he explained.

"People will bring me photos of their boats, and I try to capture just the right lines that tell a story." For more information on personal graphic designs and quality printing, Peninsula Graphics can be reached at (619) 222-3420.