In a city known for murals, how do you get your foot (or art) through a door when you’re an emerging artist of color? Fresh Paint, a partnership between RACC’s Public Art Murals program and Open Signal, offers that door to have artist work in the public realm.
In this 2019 cycle of Fresh Paint, a selection of new emerging artist have the opportunity to paint a temporary mural on the exterior of the Open Signal building facing the highly-visible Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. Each mural is up for a period of months until it is painted over in preparation for the next mural. But what’s unique about this program is that it doesn’t just provide a wall for a mural – the program offers resources to emerging artists that would not typically have access to, which then gives them space to explore working in the public sector and incorporating new approaches and skills in their artistic practice and experience.
Bizar Gomez was raised in the desert of Phoenix, AZ and now living among the trees in Portland, OR. Gomez is an illustrator and painter who is doing all he can to continue existing. Working primarily in gouache, graphite, ink and digital media, his work involves mixing urban world iconography, dreamlike surrealism, stylized figures, and social consciousness to create interesting visuals and narratives. Gomez graduated from Pacific Northwest College of Art with a BFA in Illustration.
The trio’s mural is currently displaying through September 30, 2019. We caught up with Bizar after the completion of the mural to talk about the work and experience with Fresh Paint:
Tell us about the collaborative mural you created for this program. Can you walk us through your process of conceptualizing a mural and bringing it to life?
Once we decided we wanted to work together, the idea and design of the mural happened pretty organically. Even though our personal styles are very distinct between the three of us, there was still enough common ground in our approach and content that it was not difficult to create a composition that not only retained our own individuality, but also something that worked well as a whole.
What was it like to paint your first mural on the Open Signal building?
It was definitely fun, and once you got into the right flow of it, became very meditative. It was also pretty physical, and on most nights I found myself going straight to bed after a day of painting. We received a lot encouragement and support from the community and passersby as we were painting it, and it helped quite a bit to help us push through the day whenever fatigue began to get in the way.
Since your Fresh Paint mural, what have you been up to? What are some lessons you’ve learned along the way since your first mural?
Since the Fresh Paint mural, I’ve mostly been spending time looking for new mural opportunities, as well investing further in my freelance illustration career. I’ve learned that making murals can be demanding but rewarding, and that it is a very unique medium that reaches out to type of people who don’t normally seek art on their own. It’s also pushed me to consider other solutions to transfer line work to the walls. While projectors and grinding are commonly used, there are other methods such as using chalk powder and pounce tools that could better suit someone like me.
As an emerging muralist, what thoughts or words do you want to offer emerging muralists/artists?
Make an estimate of how long you think the mural will take to paint then multiply it by three, That’s how long it will actually take to finish the mural. Mural making takes a lot of planning even before you lay down the first coat of paint, and its important that you cross your t’s and dot your i’s accordingly in order to make painting it as painless as possible. It is worth it to better invest in the materials that you use, having a roller and a brush for every color can save you a lot of time and effort.
What are you up to now? Where can we find you and your work?
As of right now I am working on mostly personal work, developing things that I might want to explore in the future. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter or my website. You can also reach me through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always open to new projects, (Both mural or illustration) so if you have a project you think I would be a good fit for then please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Fresh Paint is a professional development program, now in its second year, that provides emerging artists of color the opportunity to paint a mural in a high-traffic setting for the first time. The goal is for each artist to learn new ways of creating art in a public space, as well as to build their portfolio. To learn more about the program, contact Salvador Mayoral IV (RACC)