(Above) Photo Courtesy of Kevin Bate
Q: Can you describe your journey as an artist?
A: I was a high school junior and needed to take an extracurricular class, so I randomly picked art. Easy A, right? But lo and behold, I got in, and I loved it. It consumed me. I actually stopped painting for several years and picked back up right after my son was born. My parents were visiting and asked if I had painted in a while. I went looking for my paints and brushes, and all I could find were big 1-inch brushes and two partial gallons of house paint. I had some plywood, so off I went!
Photo by Allie Schrenke
Q: Which of your local murals has the most significance to you?
A: “The Fallen Five,” without a doubt. The story of those men hit me hard. The day after the attack, I knew I was going to have to memorialize those men.
Q: What is your creative process?
A: I always keep a pad of paper nearby to sketch on and jot ideas down. When a concept really grabs me, I start looking for a photo that I think the idea will pair well with. I’ve got digital folders filled with thousands of photos tagged with descriptors to help me find what I’m looking for, and usually, through trial and error, I can combine the two and end up with a workable sketch.
Photo Courtesy of Kevin Bate
Q: What advice do you have for someone who is embarking on creating
their first mural?
A: When people walk up when I’m painting and ask how they get into murals, I usually tell them two things. First, if you really want to get your work out there and have it seen, you’re probably going to have to bankroll your first mural out-of-pocket. Second, if you’re going to work on a mural without getting paid, make sure it’s benefiting you. Creativity and the things that you make are valuable. Never forget that. To the person about to paint their first mural, if you want your mural to look good and last, make sure you’re putting it on the best possible foundation. To the person who is not thinking about painting their first mural, I ask, why not?
Q: What do you find the most challenging?
A: Ninety-five percent of what I paint are faces, and faces can get tricky. If an eye is just a little bit off, the viewer can tell that something’s wrong. Your brain knows when the proportions of a face are off. I spend a lot of time at my desk working on my sketches to make sure they’re as good as they can be. Once I’ve started painting, all of the hard work is done. The actual painting part of the mural is pure fun for me. It’s almost meditative. I listen to music or podcasts and enjoy every second of it.
Q: To what do you attribute your success?
A: First, just a willingness to keep at it, but more importantly, parents who supported my goals and thought that being an artist was as good a career as any other. A wife who was okay with me going out at night to paint my first murals and who helps me manage my business, and, certainly, the community that seems to like my work and gets excited about new pieces when they go up.