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PROCESS / Mural - Capulus Est Vita

A close friend of mine offered me a job to work on a 15ft wall for her new co-working space/artisanal roastery Drum & Desk. Her brief was pretty straightforward - nothing too loud, perhaps something abstract. I had about 2 months to prepare in advance, but as usual I didn't quite settle with a design until maybe about 1-2 weeks before (I would blame it on the fact that my day job saps up most of my time and energy but we all know some of us work better last minute).


I have to say abstract designs are not entirely my forte, but you just gotta fake it 'till you make it. The design I proposed was of stylised monochromatic coffee berries with a pop of teal (reflective of the brand's colour). I thought it would look good against a greyish base layer - to set it apart from the rest of the pristine walls, but also not to distract. I wanted it to complement the interior design and not blend in, so to speak.

Day 1: Base Layer

I wanted to recreate the textural effect of a polished concrete wall, which would work well with the colour palette I reckon, so we've got some more work cut out for us since the original wall is white. Laying down the base layer of grey was relatively fuss-free, it was the patterning that was complicated and time-consuming. Even with a couple of friends working on this, it took a full day - which was what I planned for anyway, after some lessons learnt from past gigs.

I should also mention that there were other contractors fixing up the place while we worked on the mural. Some of them, upon seeing our half-done faux concrete wall, casually commented that there is a special paint that would give exactly this effect. I have to admit I didn't know such paint existed - but regardless, I still would've preferred recreating the effect manually, because art.

Day 2: Sketching and Painting

Sketching free-hand on a wall of this scale would be tough, so I opted for a projector - which was in itself quite a challenge to set up. Space was an issue and there was no way for us to project the image wide enough to cover the entire wall, so we had to do it in sections. Definitely took longer than I expected but with some extra pair of hands, we split the work - some friends helped with the line work while I started on painting the rest of the wall.

Day 3 - 5: More Painting & Detailing

For this mural I kept things simple; colours were just black, white, teal and their derivatives, and no fancy shading, just flat colours throughout and some detailing work. I had a lot of help painting this time, so that definitely sped things up tremendously. The actual hard part I suppose was manoeuvring the scaffoldings to reach the higher parts of the wall - I forgot how many times I swore under my breath every time someone accidentally hit the structure causing the whole thing to wobble. My thighs were legit sore after.

Post Mortem/On Hindsight

As always I had slight reservations on how it would turn out - I kept taking steps back to look at the entire wall just to make sure I got the proportions and details right. Even after it was done I could still find areas that I wish I could fix, but then again I'm always my worst critic. My key takeaways? (1) Take time to edit the design - do not be afraid to simplify because sometimes less is more. You'd think it's easy but the trick is knowing what to take out without compromising your design; (2) always stock up on masking tape if you have straight lines to paint - all you need to do is to tape up the areas you don't want paint on so you can paint without having to worry about precision; and (3) if you have a team working with you, always plan ahead so that they are able to help you out more effectively.

Questions or comments? Hit me up!

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