Murals murals on the wall
Tats Cru co-founder Nicer Navario works on part of a 188-foot-long mural for a McDonalds in the Bronx. (Photo by Marie Claire Andrea)
By Sean Joseph
They work long hours and have to put up with rain, sleet, snow and hail but unlike postal workers, they have to do it while hanging on the side of a building.
New Yorks mural artists are hardly a vanishing breed this boutique business is still a big draw among companies looking to stand out amid the citys sea of billboards and hanging mesh ads.
But having good artistic skills isn't enough. Painting the side of a building requires strength, endurance and speed.
What we do is a lot more organic and created to fit in with the surroundings, said Adrian Moeller, president of Colossal Media, a Williamsburg-based company specializing in hand-painted advertising. I think that makes gives it more of an impact. It has a viral thing that goes along with it and it resonates with people more.
Recently, Tats Cru, the graffiti-inspired self-described mural kings, painted a 188-foot-long wall for a McDonalds in the Bronx. The task was to wipe out old drawings of Grimace and the Hamburglar and replace them with images of the chains new healthy menu items. The job was completed in two days by the five-man team, a typical window for project.
McDonald's asked the five-member Tats Cru to leave their tag on their mural so others would be less likely to vandalize it. (Photo by Marie Claire Andrea)
In the summer time it can be 120-130 degrees with the sun baking buildings, Moeller said. Weve also worked through some brutal winter conditions. One time we painted during an ice storm, and when the ice melted it washed all the paint off the building.
Most ad space is booked in four-week increments, so a job must be done as soon as possible to ensure advertisers get their moneys worth, Moeller said.
Painting murals also requires strength as equipment and paint may need to be lugged up 30 floors, Moeller said. All Colossal painters are certified riggers, trained to set up scaffolding and lifts.
The whole trick to painting on a large scale is to take a couple steps back, said Tats Cru co-founder Nicer Navario. But when youre hanging on the side of a wall you dont have that luxury.
But no matter where the job is, it always attracts a crowd.
People are always stopping to take pictures and see how its done, Navario said. Its like juggling in front of people this is our street performance.
Navario said local graffiti artists are always coming by and asking him how he turned his passion for street art into a business. The companies were pretty mum on what they charge, but a Tats Cru project can run from between $1,000 and $60,000.
I got the best training on the side of New York City subway cars, said Navario, who met the other two Tats Cru co-founders in the 1980s while attending high school in the Bronx. Little mom-and pop shops started asking us to paint on store-fronts, and we started to find ourselves in demand for bigger projects.
But these works of art are never long for this world.
We paint over our stuff all the time; we know its not going to be permanent. Navario said. Its not like an artist painting on a canvas that can wrap their arms around it and call it their own property.
How they do it:
Colossal Media and Tats Cru start with a bare wall as their canvas. But that is where the similarities end. Here is a look at the processes they use:
- A client provides the company with artwork for an ad campaign and chooses a location.
- The picture is projected onto a gigantic role of paper.
- Section by section, an outline of the image is created using charcoal dust.
- The 4-by-10 foot sections are pieced together to create a grid for painters to use while working on the wall.
- The client describes its ad campaign and may provide a few required images to be used in the mural.
- A simple mock-up, show where some basic images will be located in the project, is created on a computer and sent to the client for approval.
- Once approved, the mock up for the whole project is printed out on one 8-by-10 inch piece of paper.
- The painters free-style the project, referring only occasionally to the mock-up to see where things go.