PLANNING FOR YOUR MURAL
So you have a space that you would like a mural placed on, and you are excited to get started. While we would love to be the artist you work with, we know that won't always be the case. Below are a few tips to help you in your brainstorming and planning for your upcoming project, for which ever talented artist you choose is a best fit for you.
What is Your Purpose?
There are many benefits to bringing a mural to your space and it can be helpful to think about and identify a few of yours before getting started. Ask yourself, who is this mural for? Knowing who your target is can be helpful in landing on a design. A mural meant for company stakeholders to spread a message to employees is going to be different than a mural meant to create an Instagrammable experience for customers.
Permission & Permits
If this is inside a building, check with your office landlord, and if it is outside you also need to see if your city has a permitting process for public art (many do). This permitting and approval process may require the city to approve of the design. They do this to keep public spaces appropriate for all eyes, and to ensure you aren’t painting giant advertisements all over your building. Many will restrict how much text is allowed in a mural or the height of a mural. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules, and play by the book. It would be a shame to have to remove a piece of art that you have already paid for.
Think About Your Budget
The work of artists has value. Many mural artists do this work full time, meaning this is their bread and butter. Painting murals sits at the cross section of being an artist and being a commercial painter. Meaning that there is a lot of skill involved as well as challenging physical labor.
Things that may affect the price are the square footage of your wall, how difficult the wall is to reach (will a lift be involved?), the current cost of paint & supplies, artist design time, travel expenses for the artist, and the skill level of the artist you select. Additionally, some muralists have a project minimum, to ensure that the work matches the value of their limited time. Do your research into what pricing is like in your area.
Ask for quotes, but do not ask for designs up front as this would be asking the artist to create something for you for free and many artists will see this as a red flag in a client.
Think back to your purpose. If you are trying to connect with the community, a local artist is a good call. If you are trying to make a statement of some sort, there might just be a muralist out there nationally or internationally that is known for having a passion for the topic. While your sister’s cousin’s uncle may “know a guy”, be sure to do your own research and compare a few as well.
Additionally, since you won’t be asking for unpaid design work up front, it is important for you to become familiar with an artist’s style. Look at the body of their past work. It is likely that whatever they produce for you will be in a similar style as this work.
The artist will be creating a custom large-scale painting for you, and they really want you to be happy with it, and they want to be happy with it as well. This work will be representing you BOTH publicly.
Have a meeting or a phone call with your artist to discuss your goals and purpose for the project. Communicate your goals. I encourage you to trust the artist you have selected to BE the artist.
This means, while you can give a prompt, don’t hand them a sketch. Let them create the art.
An example prompt might be:
“Our business sells audio equipment, so something related to audio or sound would be ideal”
This is vague, but gives the artist a general direction to run in.
An example of over-directing might be:
“Our business sells audio equipment, so I would like a painting of three 80’s style boomboxes pointing directly at our door. I want them to be purple and to have lizards carrying them, and the lizards are wearing our company logo on their shirts. Also we want a cityscape with our local skyline, and my son loves pizza, so let’s get that in there as well. My niece who has taken some art classes drew up a sketch of this idea. I would like this to look like the style of (enter the name of another artist, animator, or movie) that I saw”
I know this sounds silly, but this sort of thing does happen, and if the artist complies with these requests, they ultimately will not have created something that is their art (which if you remember, is the reason why you hired them). We’ve made this mistake before and tried to incorporate a million elements into a project, and created work that we were unhappy with.
Let the artist create, and discuss ahead of time how many revisions are included in the design time that you have paid for. Generally, some back and forth is completely normal, and expected, but if you find yourself needing 8 revisions, or you are asking your artist to change direction completely more than once, there is an issue. Either this artist is not right for you (which hopefully they are, since you did your research), or you have a very specific vision in your head that needs communicating. Remember, the creation of art and the creation of graphic design are two different things. Artists come with a specific style (or styles) and their past work is a good indicator of what you can expect.
Here are a few more do’s and don’ts for the design process:
Do give your artist direction and communicate your goals
Don’t ask the artist to paint someone else’s work, this includes well known characters and images that are a part of a corporation's intellectual property.
Do set realistic expectations. Many artists have a style they are known for. Expect that style.
Don’t get a specific design stuck in your head. You may love the new concept that is presented.
Do stay open to the process. When we let artists do what they do best, you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised with the art, instead of trying to jam a square peg into a round hole.
Hopefully these tips are helpful to you in your planning process.
To help you plan, we have created a simple planning guide worksheet for you to make notes on. You can download it here:
If you have a mural in mind, we would love to learn more about it. To get started in our mural process, please click here. I also recommend becoming familiar with our process, which you can do by having a look at this short article.
Best of luck!