A lot goes into a mural: Lessons learned by Camille Myles
When I was approached recently by a local children play centre to create two indoor murals, I was thrilled to say yes! But once I did that I realized that I needed to carefully plan this project to make this a success. I wanted to be able to use this as a learning experience in order to offer this service in the future which meant I needed to feel proud of the work and the client should be happy as well (good referrals are essential!). I had some experience with murals previously, at a hospital and some private residences, but it was a while ago so I wanted to plan my steps to grow and here are some of my top lessons learned from my experience:
1- Meet with your client! Have a meeting with the client in front of the wall space. Talk about their goals and the reasons why they want a beautiful mural at this location. Talk about what inspires them, what colours they enjoy and if they had ideas or a style in mind already. Look at the surface of the wall and note if you need to consider any additional prep work. Bring a tape measurer and take photos and notes. Of course, the best clients are the ones that trust you and know your style, but be open to their interests and preferences (they are the ones paying you after all and you want to make sure they are happy!). Bring some previous examples of your work (it doesn’t have to be a mural if you don’t have any previous experience). Also, think about why YOU want to do this. Discuss with your client your own motivations. For me, the children play centre was so close to my heart as it was one of the first places I went to to meet new moms when we moved to a new town. It was like giving back!
2- Plan it out! Sketch, sketch, sketch! You’ll probably have to go back and forth with your client to get your ideas finalized and see what you are both comfortable with. As this project was geared towards children as a target audience, then I really needed to consider an aesthetic that would engage that audience. I established a fun, light-hearted theme around flight and nature. The centre was undergoing renovations, so the decor and colours of the new space needed to be considered as well (even the placement of furniture). Consider creating a mood board for your client in Canva with your sketches, photos of the space, imagery and colour swatches of your palette.
3- Prepare a budget, set a price and send a professional estimate. There are great websites with industry standard pricing for murals( https://www.fixr.com/costs/paint-wall-mural#mural-painting-cost-per-sqft). If you’re just starting out, you’ll need to consider your first experience as a developmental opportunity so you may want to go to the lower end of the price spectrum. In your price, consider the size, the cost of materials, the intricacies of the design, preparations of the wall, if you need to rent equipment or scaffolding, insurance, the number of coats, scellants, weatherproofing, etc. When you give your estimate, use a nice template with your logo (you can use Canva to design your estimate) and be confident.
4- Choose your materials wisely! I did underestimate my material costs and decided to switch from acrylic paint to house paint. I found house paint to be easier to apply with a painterly effect and easier to limit my palette so every thing looked more cohesive. Some of the detail work was still one in acrylic, but house paint was much easier to apply.
3- Communication is key! I was happy to send little videos and progress photos to my client when I was working - that way we could work out any proposed changes and not wait until the big reveal at the end. It also gives them confidence in what you’re doing and that you’re putting the work in.
4- Document everything! You wan to make sure you’ll be able to market your awesome work and tell your friends and family about what you’re up to - consider doing a little sneak peek of you describing your process and your inspiration. Make sure to take a tripod and setup your phone for time-lapse videos or even hold your camera while you paint on some details.
5- Things can change! I have to admit that midway through the project, I wasn’t happy with the overall result and I was putting too much pressure on myself. I went back to my sketches and ideas and thought about making the mural more “me”. It became fun once I realized that this should be a reflection of my style and what I like.
6- Celebrate and express gratitude! Share your success with the world, your friends and family! Be proud of this hard work - it’s not easy (physically and mentally!). Say thanks and express your gratitude to your client (even send them a small appreciation gift and card).
Don’t forget to promote that you are now also a professional mural artist!
Hope this helps and happy painting!