Paint Your Scars Purple

A lot can happen in two years. Sometimes two years can escape you in an instant, sometimes a short amount of time can feel like 20 years. Two years ago I painted a mural that was a part of my second solo show "Home is Where You Drown" which was displayed at Octane Westside in Atlanta. I had been wanting to do murals at the time and so I asked about making one for the show not really expecting it to happen - yet, it did. "Stare" was a mural about me dealing with people who would often stare or gawk at me based on the way that I looked. The whole show was my first autobiographical visual showcase. I was in a weird place in my life, getting to know myself as an artist and getting to finally live a life without dealing with so many surgeries or doctors visits. Art had always played a role of being a coping mechanism for me, and this mural was a part of the healing.

 

"Stare" showed figures hiding in bushes looking at the viewer, the faces were very bleak. The idea was that when you entered Octane, you would see (or not see) various figures watching you. Sometimes you noticed them staring, other times you didn't. These figures were hiding behind bushes showing the shame in themselves for staring at something that was foreign to them. They're still noticeable though. After "Home is Where You Drown" was complete the folks at Octane decided to keep the mural up. I was happy about this. As the mural was still there though, my life changed. My outlook on strangers looking at me changed. I grew a better understanding on how to approach situations when I notice someone staring at me. I'm learning to stand up for myself and to call people out to hopefully help others understand that gluing your eye to somebody else that is different from you isn't respectful. A few months ago I approached Octane to repaint the mural. I wanted to create a piece that reflected the change in me, but also the growth of my style. I wanted to show more love and happiness versus bitterness. They kindly agreed. 

It was a daunting task over painting something that has meant something to you in the past and that has been a staple of a space for awhile. So I thought and I thought until I came up with an idea to re-imagine the mural "Stare." I wanted to deconstruct the elements of the mural but I also wanted to use colors to compliment the space. Octane has some beautiful warm browns all around their space and I wanted to work with those browns while still adding a pop of color. I came up with an abstracted version of the mural that was originally there. I presented the sketch and it was all approved. 

Not only was I allowed to over paint the old mural, I was also able to extend the mural to another wall. This created some fun challenges including painting over doors and lights etc. I love painting murals because I get to use an existing space to help enhance a space. I do my best to incorporate the space's elements into the mural, I opted to even keep the doors black but paint over some of the abstract forms & eyes on the door to create a continuos image throughout the two walls. Thank you Tony, Diane, John & Tyler for allowing me to repaint this mural. 

Octane is located at 1009 Marietta St. Atlanta, GA 30318

Winner Winner Sauce Dinner

Nando's "Peri-Peri" sauce originates from South Africa, and they were launching the sauce here in Atlanta, Georgia. They called me up to do a mural for the sauce launch that took place over by Atlanta Beltline Bikes for 10 days. In a total of 4 days, with the help from my great team consisting of Alan Chiang & Mac Stewart and a slew of great volunteers we were able to bang out a Peri Peri man in which I call him, "Barry Peri."

 Original pencil sketch

Original pencil sketch

First thing I had to do to come up with the concept of the mural was to try the sauce. So some of the folks from Nando's USA and I went over to a catering company to try it out. It was a tasty meal and it got my mind reeling to come up with ideas. The concept of the mural was to create what the sauce felt like, and to collaborate with Nando's designer Nicola Lourens who is based out of South Africa. Nicola and I had a few Skype meetings to discuss the designs and the color schemes etc. She put together some funky Nando's shapes and I came up with the idea to draw a tall man who can show how the sauce made one feel. The wall is about 30 feet tall and in almost this curved dome shape so I felt it would be neat to really play with the size & structure itself to have it fit with the wall. There were also little bikes added to pay homage to the bike shop & the Atlanta Beltline itself. It was a neat experience to collaborate with somebody who was on another part of the world from me. 

 Final color concept

Final color concept

After several sketches & color options we landed on the concept above. Then I got my team together to start hammering out the big wall. 

 Here's what the wall looked like before we painted all over it. There I am on a big ole' lift robot.

Here's what the wall looked like before we painted all over it. There I am on a big ole' lift robot.

 Mac, Alan and myself all tackling the beast. 

Mac, Alan and myself all tackling the beast. 

Over the span of the 4 days of painting, I had three lifts and a great group of volunteers to help me achieve this giant wall. We listened to plenty of funk music and I think we ate at almost every place in Krog Street Market. Thank you Alan, Mac, Ian, Dan, Erin, Tristan, Joshua, Daniel, Joe & Toby for lending helping hands.

  Mr. Jason Travis  snapped this photo of myself, Toby Huss, Ian McCarthy & Alan Chiang painting the hot sauce man on a hot Saturday afternoon. 

Mr. Jason Travis snapped this photo of myself, Toby Huss, Ian McCarthy & Alan Chiang painting the hot sauce man on a hot Saturday afternoon. 

All 'n' all we had a very good time painting the peri-peri man. Thank you again to everybody at Nando's & to Carolyn of Ignition Inc. for making this happen. For the Nando's event they even put my Barry-Peri Man on a sauce bottle!!!

 The finished mural. Photo by  Chucky Kahng

The finished mural. Photo by Chucky Kahng

P.s. Nando's, please open a restaurant in Atlanta. 

A tiny man for Atlanta Magazine

A few weeks ago the folks at "Atlanta Magazine" asked me to do a very tiny spot illustration for a short little column about raising funds for local theater. When clients usually come up to me about work they let me run with ideas based on the article that was presented with me, this was no different. I whipped up three sketches. Some were a little more complex for just a one inch illustration.

 

The first idea I had was a dollar bill body builder (or "billder") who was carrying a little stage with a ballerina on it. For the second idea, the article featured a quote where they mention that the funding was the wind to the sails. I decided to make a "director captain" of a boat with a dollar bill sail and waves of coins. The hat has the classic "drama masks" on it and he is also carrying a director's mega phone. This proved to be too much in terms of the size of the illustration being published.

The final sketch I sent (the one they used) was of one of those classic opera viking singers but instead of holding a shield it's holding a coin and a few dollar bills. The stage is also a small coin. Below is the sketch and the final product. I went to see the illustration in person and it is pretty tiny but pretty cool. 

Thanks again "Atlanta Magazine" ! 

Under the Water, Over the Roof

Several months back I was asked to design a billboard for Mailchimp, with the only specification that I would include a variation of their mascot Freddie (who is a chimp in fact.) So I decided to create a little underwater scene because I thought it'd be kind of funny to have something so high up in the sky be in fact, underwater. I made Freddie's shape into an abandoned old school sailor's helmet that a mermaid and two fish find. 

Recently I learned that the billboard was up on Ponce De Leon Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia on the roof of a pretty good spot to eat conveniently titled, "EATS." Not only that but it was put up next to my good friend Mr. Kyle Brooks's ("Blackcattips") billboard who I have talked about before on this ole' here blog. 

 Bob with the ladder, Jason and Kyle. 

Bob with the ladder, Jason and Kyle. 

My buddy Jason Travis contacted Kyle and I about taking a few pictures up on the roof of EATS. So on a chilly Fall afternoon we went into the restaurant and talked to Bob who said that he had a ladder that has been "here in the building longer than the establishment itself" a rickety old 26 year old ladder.  With that, the Mailchimp folks, Kyle and I went up on the rooftop to take a few pictures. The roof smelled like rotisserie chicken. 

 Kyle's billboard on the left, mine on the right.

Kyle's billboard on the left, mine on the right.

Kyle and I got to go right up on a bouncy railing so we could be right by the billboards for Jason to take pictures of. That was an adventure and a pretty cold one at that. Kind of amazing to see Ponce from that view. 

After a few shots on the railing, I made it down alive (obviously.) Mattiel (who is also with Mailchimp) and Jason flew a little drone around the billboard. We waved at the robot for a bit. Sat on the roof which felt or looked like "hashbrowns" in Kyle's words. 

The whole experience of this little photo shoot was a great adventure and I'm just glad the 26 year old ladder did us all justice. Thank you again Mailchimp, Jason, Mattiel, and Kyle!

 Me with the billboard.

Me with the billboard.

 A view from Ponce City Market courtesy of Dylan Fagan

A view from Ponce City Market courtesy of Dylan Fagan


Yikkin' and Yakkin'

Several months back I was approached by the folks over at the YikYak Headquarters to do a mural for their communal meeting and dining space. When asked to do a mural, my only stipulation from the client was to include a Yak. I took some inspiration from my illustration for "Creative Loafing" where I had drawn a mountain man, and I started laying out some drawings of Yaks and Yodellers. I wanted to keep a very simple color scheme of 3-4 colors and I wanted to use. With that in mind I sent my client three color palettes for the wall.

The folks at YikYak opted for the color scheme with the pink & brown but also noted to use more of a greenish tone to fit with their branding, so I decided to switch the blue for more of a green. While the original sketch shows more yaks etc, when I looked at the wall it was more narrow in height than in width so I decided to reduce the amount of characters in favor of making them larger in scale. Along with the task of painting the mural I figured I'd need an assistant so I enlisted the help of my friend Alan Chiang so that the process of the mural could go a little bit faster. Alan helped me a lot with laying down the large blocks of flat color. I think I would've been there painting for two months if it wasn't for his help. 

There were a few mountains to climb (uggh I know puns) with this piece, including the fire extinguisher box and the large television. We had originally tried to move the television out of the way, I think every employee at YikYak tried frankly but it wasn't going anywhere. We made do with the space that we had, and worked our way around it. I think my favorite illusion on this mural is the how I tackled the box. 

Originally they only gave me one wall to work on, but directly next to the wall I was painting was another blank wall and they decided to let me continue the image of the mountains, yaks and mountain men over to that space. This allowed of course for a larger image and in turn created more of a space for the room at the headquarters. 

All 'n' all I had a great time painting at the YikYak HQ, the employees there were super friendly and they go around in these hover scooters which looked absolutely terrifying to ride on. (Note: I rode on one for about 3 seconds and then yelled "NOPE.") Thanks again guys for having me paint in your space!

 




Collaborating with Atlanta artist Kyle Brooks

About a year ago I was walking along the Beltline in Atlanta, when I came across a bridge that had these brightly colored faces and animals painted on it. It made me smile a lot and I kept noticing the style around town more after that. Come to find out it was the work of Blackcattips (or Kyle Brooks if you're fancy.) Soon after that encounter with his mural, I followed him on Instagram and became more of a fan of his bears and signs.

Earlier this year I partook in a Valentine's day group show with Paper Ghost Studio to which Brooks also had some work. I was able to meet both him and his wife Maria. We shook hands and shared a few jokes. We had then decided to meet again at his studio. Long story short Kyle and I had become good friends and when I was asked to do another show at Octane Westside for December I wanted to do something a little different than what I had done last year. I wanted to create a show based on the beach art that I grew up around in my hometown, but to create my own weird humorous take on it. The other thing I wanted to accomplish was to collaborate with some of the folks and friends that I had made over the years while living in Atlanta. The conception of a show called "I Promised I Wouldn't Do This" (which is a reference to when I was little and refusing to draw nautical things) was born.

Kyle was one of the first people I had in mind to work with for the show, so I contacted him and after a coffee in Buckhead we agreed that we'd make something together. The week of Halloween I had gone over to his studio where he already picked out a large piece of wood and started making some shapes etc. The piece of wood already had the black color in the background so we decided to utilize it. I normally don't toy around with black so this was a fun change for me.

We spent a few hours just painting shapes and working out the painting in real time, we had a vague idea of what we wanted. I ended up using that blue abstracted shape and turned it into a whale with a mean tail. Kyle went on to paint a boat and I thought it'd be a funny idea for him to make some "Bear fish." He painted the faces on the bears and I painted the fins. After he painted a boat I added an angry face to the boat. Kyle and I talked a bit about how we both like the designs of The Muppets (specifically Dr. Teeth), he also "cooked me up" some hot tea.

After a few hours of painting we were done for the day, I had left the piece over at Kyle's studio to do whatever he wanted with it. 

Kyle would send me picture messages on the phone of what he was doing and he decided that the big whale I painted would eat somebody. 

About a week or so later Kyle let me know he was done with his piece and he came over to my apartment to give it to me. I had asked Kyle to put "Sail the Seas with Electro Lucks" as a reference to my Dad who is a vaccuum cleaner salesman who also sold Electrolux vacs for many years. My Dad loves to be on a boat also, so I figured it'd be a nice little nod to him.

Side note: When people ask my Dad about how work is going he always responds "it sucks but it's picking up." 

My good friend Dylan Fagan took a picture of us with what Kyle had presented to me, and afterward I added a few little more pieces to the painting. You can see the full finished painting at my show over at Octane Westside, 1009 Marietta St. NW, Atlanta GA. The opening to "I Promised I Wouldn't Do This" will be on December 4th from 7-11pm. The show also features collaborations with Alan Chiang, Catlanta, Yoyo Ferro, Anne Elser, Kevin Bongang, Caleb Morris, Daniel Haire, Amanda Pinney, Mac Stewart, and Daniel Rodda. 

 Photo by Dylan Fagan

Photo by Dylan Fagan

I had a lot of fun painting with Kyle. Please come out to the show opening on December 4th! You can RSVP and find out more updates through the Facebook event page. It would be great to see you there if you are in the Atlanta area.