Manifesting Murals | PART 2: You're Gonna Need A Wall

This week marks the one year anniversary of painting my first murals. Two murals in 10 days, in fact. Prior to painting these murals in Austin, I had zero mural experience & no reason to believe I could pull it off.  Following is the 6-part story of how I did it. [Read from the beginning.]

To convince myself to pursue the mural goal while allowing zero doubts to enter the process, I told myself it was "an experiment". Logically I didn't really believe that I'd be able to do it, but as an experiment I decided to proceed with an open mind that it could happen. This is art after all, why not keep my mind open to the most outlandish ideas? 

Pretty quickly I realized I could paint my arrows motif on a wall and that it could look pretty cool. I’d been painting my arrows on jackets, suits, guitar straps and leather pouches. Right before I left for Austin I’d painted my arrows on a canvas backdrop I’d made as a stage banner. That was the largest scale painting I had done before, and I loved the way it looked. I decided my arrows would be the subject matter of the mural.

The next step was to imagine what kind of place might want my arrows on their wall.  I thought about a coffee shop I'd been to, and I googled a photo of it and did a crude mockup of the arrows on the interior and exterior walls.  I emailed the photo to the general email of the coffee shop, asking if they'd be interested. More importantly, mocking up the visual helped me "see" the idea of the mural as more real.  The people from the coffee shop never responded.

My digital mockup on the coffee shop wall

My digital mockup on the coffee shop wall

I started asking friends if they knew any muralists. Some close friends of mine told me they had a friend who had painted several murals. My friend gave the muralist a call, explained my situation and asked if he’d talk to me.  The muralist didn’t want to talk to me.

Another friend told me about a place called SPRATX that sold mural supplies.  I called them and told them I was an artist visiting from Oakland and did they know of any opportunities or available walls?  Nope, they said, competition is very stiff.  There aren't that many walls available. It's really hard these days and getting harder.  I thanked them and moved on.

All these dead ends were plenty of fodder to feed my doubt, but I’d made a commitment not to do that.  So I kept going.

While I was waiting to find a wall, I still needed to figure out how I’d proceed if I found one. My friend Dana Lenko ended up being a key part of the process. Turns out she used to work at a paint shop and she went with me to two shops while we were researching. She also embraced the idea and didn't put any doubt on it. This was crucial; one dreamkiller can kill an idea before it even starts. Dana spent time talking through the idea with me and generally adding momentum and belief.  

The night I found a wall (with Jeff, Fabian, Cathy, Amy)

The night I found a wall (with Jeff, Fabian, Cathy, Amy)

On Saturday, July 9th, I met some friends out at a club to see Folk Uke perform. My friends Jeff and Fabian asked what I'd been up to, and I told them I was looking for a place to paint my arrows as a mural. Saying it out loud to other people was part of the "having no doubts" aspect, because I usually don't share ideas before I've accomplished them.  

To my utter shock, Fabian said, "I just took over an auto garage on the east side. You can paint your arrows on the side of my building."

I couldn't believe my ears. I think I must have said "Really? Just like that? You'll let me paint the side of your building??" Yep. I heard him right. I was beside myself. I texted Dana and told her we were on.