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25 March 2014

Monkey (mural) business

Last week, the good people of LIFE agency, in Birmingham, invited me to paint a large mural in their front meeting room. The brief: to illustrate and include the phrase “Today is a good day”.

There were other factors to take into consideration too.

The meeting room faces out onto the road and you can see the “mural wall” as you walk up to the building and go through their front door. It was important that the mural could be seen from the outside. However, it also had to work from within the room, without dominating. Also, one side of the meeting room is covered in a dense black and white Jon Burgerman wallpaper pattern, which is playful - filled with swirls, continuous lines and his fun characters.

rough drawing for mural
I developed three sketches for the wall, one based around nature, one with birds and one with two monkey characters, which was the favoured design. To work with the above factors I kept the illustrations clean and simple, by using big shapes and keeping lots of space around it. I referenced the LIFE logo,which uses a deep orange/yellow, as a starting point to create a limited colour scheme, to aid the finished mural not overwhelming the space. And, I included a fluidity and movement in the designs, so that they would sit comfortably alongside Jon’s wallpaper.


Of course, the phrase had to appear in the mural. The monkey design has the characters telling the phrase to each other, while rejoicing in a rich find of their favourite food. This character has appeared a few times before in my work, so it was exciting to be granted the opportunity to paint him and his friend an a large scale.

With my trusty trolley loaded up with paints, brushes, tubs, rags and all those little things I need to paint, I caught the train from Bristol to Brum and spent the best part of the week painting the two cheeky monkeys onto the meeting room wall. Earphones in and a variety of podcasts, tunes and DJ mixes helped keep me going, as well as a few cups of the strong stuff from the coffee place nearby.

pulling a monkey face

Huge thanks to Log, Tilly and their lovely housemates for putting up with me and allowing me to crash in their spare room. Also, of course, to everyone at LIFE, who made me feel very welcome and to Luke Tonge for taking excellent photographs.

See the time-lapse here.