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How to commission a mural

You have a wall. You want something amazing on that wall. But what now?

Commissioning a mural can be a daunting task, but I promise you it's easier than you think. The hardest part will be deciding what style of mural you would like.

Choosing which artist is right for you

You wouldn't go to a dentist and ask them to fix your big toe would you? No. So going to a mural artist that specialises in life-like painting and asking them to create a stencil style artwork isn't going to bode well. Just because someone is an artist doesn't mean they can create is all mediums and styles beautifully. I suggest you walk through your town and find public murals you love and note down the signature of the artist. Search on social media for local artists using hashtags. For example #sunshinecoastartist or #streetart #brisbane

Alternatively, if you know of an artist, you can ask them for recommendations. The street art scene is pretty tight-knit and more than happy to share the work around to an artist that might suit the project. Or, you could look on Facebook Community pages for recommendations. Google is always good too, but some artists only have social media and may not show up in a google search.

Once you have found the style that you love, and the artist/s that can create that style - ask for a quote.


Most mural artists will quote on a project based on the size and type of wall. When you reach out to the artist be sure to supply them with:

- the size of the wall

- the surface of the wall (a photo is always helpful here) ie. unpainted besser brick or shipping container

- the deadline you have for this project, if there is one

- the style you are looking for (you could include some images of past projects they have created that you love)

- where the wall is located ie. Sydney City

A photo of the wall always helps an artist to provide a comprehensive quote.

When the artists send through a quote they should explain what is included in this quote. For example, they may charge $150/m2 so their cost for a 10m x 2m wall would be $3000 (bargain BTW!). They should outline whether this is inc GST. Does the cost cover all paint and design proofs? Does it include a certain amount of changes to the design proof? Is an anti graffiti coating included? Does the cost include cleaning and undercoating of the wall?

For me, I have the client clean and undercoat the wall. Everything else is included in my quote except for lift access equipment hire. For example, if the wall is 12m high, I would need to hire a boom lift for a few days for the project - that is additional to my per square metre cost.

I strongly suggest getting three quotes to compare prices.

Covering your bum

A few tips you can take or leave....

- Ask your mural artist if they have Public Liability insurance (usually up to $20 million)

- Is there a contract for you to both sign that outlines responsibilities?

- Will the artist be providing a production timeline for the project so everyone is on the same page around when to expect proofs and when the paint day/s are?

- What % deposit do they need to start the project?

- If a scissor lift or boom lift is being used, does the artist have their Elevated Working Platforms and Working at Heights tickets?

If your artist is using a scissor lift or boom lift, check in and make sure they have their Working at Heights and Elevated Working Platforms (Yellow Card) tickets.

Briefing the artist

Once you have paid the deposit, a phone call or a face-to-face meeting is a good idea to give the artist a brief. This is your opportunity to let them know what you do and don't like. Think about things such as:

- Colours: do you hate/love any colours

- Decor: Are there any hero pieces of furniture near the wall that the artist could connect to the artwork?

- Subject matter: Do you want birds? Or flowers? Or a girl? Or song lyrics?

- Feel: How do you want to feel when you look at this mural? Energised? Inspired? Calm? Sleepy?

Be very descriptive. The more information you can pass on now, the easier it will be for the artist to create an amazing proof that you connect with. As artists are visual people, a vision board or a Pinterest board is REALLY helpful.

The process

The artist will likely take one to two weeks to come up with 1-3 concepts for the mural (depending on how busy they are). They will email the designs through to you for your feedback. Have a look, sit on them for a couple of days and send back any feedback you might have. There might be a little bit of back and forth to get the design right. Hopefully your mural artist will provide you with a mock up of the mural on your actual wall prior to painting. This will give you an idea of how it will look in the space.

A mock up of the design on the wall is always a helpful proof. Particularly if there are any stakeholders who are a little nervous about having a mural painted. The mock up shows exactly how the mural will look on the wall and in the space.

Once you have approved the design, the artist will order paint and book in a paint day with you. They should bring everything they need for the job: the paint, drop sheets, rollers, brushes and anything else. They are used to being time lapsed and photographed, so go crazy (after asking permission of course). My favourite clients in the past have been the ones that make me cookies and play Crowded House in the background. Their puppies often keep me company too. But that's me... not all artists are the same though.

Depending on what paints are needed for the project, it can take ten days to get them delivered from interstate (mainly spray paint and anti graffiti).

Depending on the size of the wall, the design and the artist the painting of the wall could take between one - twenty days! As a stencil artist, I'm very fast as I spend days prior to paint day cutting stencils and quickly spray on site. Other artists may take a lot longer.

On completion of the mural

Make sure you are 100% happy with the mural before the artist leaves. If it is a private, indoor mural, no anti graffiti coating is needed. If it's external or a public facing wall, I suggest a clear coat to keep it safe.

Take all the photos. Post it all over Facebook, make sure to tag the artist as most of our work is via word of mouth. Be sure to spell their name right and offer a call to action such as 'get in touch with them via email at...' . Be proud of your amazing original mural!

Do not photograph the mural and print the design on t-shirts and sell them. This is copyright infringement. Yes. This has happened before!

Then pat yourself on the back for supporting a local artist. Good on you! And enjoy your amazing artwork.


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