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Want to paint a mural? – We have the inside scoop

by Ofentse Sefolo
Want to paint a mural? – We have the inside scoop

“As artists, we are the writers of history. As we paint, people watch. And it is our responsibility to give them information that will inspire them, motivate them and prepare them for the future,” said Bash, a South African street artist, at IPAF 2021.

A worthy platform
The 2021 International Public Arts Festival (IPAF), which took place from 10 to 14 February 2021, paid tribute to renowned creatives who use this medium to tell people’s stories. Hosted by Baz-Art, an organisation that harnesses the power of street art to transform communities, this year’s festival featured legends like South African born Bash, French artist Ador and previously featured Keya Tama, a local artist now living in Los Angeles.

Artist advice on mural art
Baz-Art co-founder, Alexandre Tilmans, says: “Painting a wall mural takes careful thought and planning.” He continues: “The more prepared you are, the better. With experience, you will know how long it will take and what the challenges will be.”

Tama says he draws inspiration for his murals from contrast – from emotions, ideas and aesthetics that work to bring out the best parts of each other. He prefers “walls with history” and chooses environments to which his work organically relates. He believes street art has enormous potential to shape youth culture; and his advice for emerging South African creatives is to “challenge your taste in order to refine your style to something that resonates and is unique”.

Mural art how-to:
• Plan ahead. Tilmans says the better you plan, the easier the job.
• Ensure you have an accurate sketch and a list of all the materials you need, including a hat, water, drop sheets, measuring tape, chalk, a ladder and scaffolding.
• Do a site inspection before you begin, so you can anticipate any challenges upfront and estimate how long it will take you.
• Get the permissions you need: In a Cape Town context, you need to fill in a public art permit application form from the City of Cape Town’s Art and Culture Department. This needs to be signed by the building owner and neighbours, and will require an attachment of your proposed sketch. There is rigorous consultation both internally and within the affected community, which takes place to ensure buy-in and that no regulation or by-law will be broken.

Bash presenting his mural to spectators at the IPAF 2020.

Four key considerations before you begin
Use the following four factors to plan your project and its costs upfront:
1. How complicated is your design and who will help you to execute it?
2. Where is your location? Is it easily accessible?
3. How big is the mural and will it require any special machinery?
4. How long will it take you to paint and how long do you want it to last?

Inspiration is everywhere
Street artist Bash also advises drawing “truths” from everyday life to inspire mural ideas. In terms of location, he sees himself as a “mobile gallery”. “I go to places where there is a lot of foot traffic; places where people don’t have exposure to galleries or art, so I bring the art to them.”

His advice for new creatives is: “Don’t be shy. Don’t be scared. Be bold. Get out of your comfort zone and do what you want to do. Make sure your intentions are to inspire, motivate and prepare people for the future.”

For more information, visit https://ipafest.co.za/.

Main image: ‘The Stork’ by Ador in Manchester, UK

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