Skip to main content
Longboat Key Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 4 years ago

ArtisTree's judges narrow list of Design & Dine finalists to three


The Design & Dine contest team is busy choosing three finalists — out of almost 50 entries ­— for a $10,000 backyard makeover. Now, ArtisTree needs your help to narrow it down to one winner. Cast your vote Feb. 4 to Feb. 15, by visiting ArtisTree’s Facebook page at or by visiting and clicking on the Contests tab in the toolbar. Watch The Observer’s Daily Headlines Monday, Feb. 4, Tuesday, Feb. 5, and Wednesday, Feb. 6, to see the finalists’ yards. The winner also receives a Celebratory Soiree for 20 guests sponsored by Michael’s On East.

For the first time, all four ArtisTree designers will work together to create one design plan for the Design & Dine Contest winner. Meet the designers:

Shawn Gulbrandsen, aka ‘Nugget’
Shawn Gulbrandsen thinks in nuggets. Gulbrandsen believes that all materials, regardless of size, must have a complementary function in the landscape. His broad training and certification as an arborist allows him to guide clients from concept to completion. By listening to clients’ likes and dislikes, Gulbrandsen gets every project off on the right foot by defining the dream and turning it into an aesthetic, yet practical, “work of ArtisTree.”

Kirk Brummett, aka ‘The Investigator’
Part Picasso and part Sherlock Holmes, Kirk Brummett begins every landscape project with a detailed site investigation of existing conditions. As a registered landscape architect, he pairs his findings with the visions of his clients. Brummett believes clients who participate early on have a deeper pride of ownership and respect for the creative process. They understand that every existing condition is a clue to what can be done. After installation, the mystery that most often remains is why the project wasn’t started sooner.

Joe Mantkowski, aka ‘The LEEDer’
Joe Mantkowski’s nickname, “The LEEDer,” stems from his accreditation as a LEED GA, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Associate. Mantkowski quickly gets to the pertinent questions of color and design preferences and then moves on to the functionalities of plants, drainage, hardscapes and lighting. A native Floridian, he uses local materials and resources to help clients reduce their energy costs. In the long run, his natural ability to “take the LEED” pays off beautifully.

Clinton Lak, aka ‘Cadillak’
Clinton Lak is committed to creating quality landscapes that are the best-of-the-best — ergo his nickname, “Cadillak.” As a landscape architect, he asks questions to accelerate conversation. Once answers are collected, Lak designs and refines, marrying landscape to lifestyle, architecture and budget. From looking at a property for the first time to conducting a final walk-through, his creative vision remains faithful to satisfying every client need. One of Lak’s trademarks is creating usable features such as gateways, fire pits and patios.

Related Stories