Hire a Muralist

How to Hire A Muralist

I have been painting murals for over 15 years, and the most common question that I get asked is, “How does this work? I’ve never hired a mural painter before.” Let me simplify the process for you and guide you through the ins and outs of having a mural painted in your home or business.

I’m going to walk you through a project that I did with a local San Diego bakery called La Clochette du Coin in May of 2020. They originally contacted me in late 2019 to paint the interior of their cafe but changed their mind and decided to focus their attention on the beautiful black exterior of the building. It has become a huge Instagram photo spot in Pacific Beach and has brought in lots of customers to their new business.

How to hire a muralist
dogs in front of a mural

Step 1: Find a few muralists that inspire you

Do a google search for “Muralist San Diego” or search on Yelp for artists with positive reviews. Maybe look around on Instagram or Facebook. You could even ask for recommendations on Nextdoor. I would recommend that you find 2-3 artists that do work similar to what you want to be painted. If you want a sign painter, don’t hire a gallery artist who only paints flowers. If you want someone to paint a nursery, don’t contact an artist who only does commercial work.

Mostly, look for an artist who creates quality work in a style you admire. Painting a mural does require some trust, so you will need to have faith that this artist will design and create something that fits with your style and/or brand.

Step 2: Take some pictures

Take pictures of the walls that you would like painted. It helps to also take measurements, but it’s not necessary if you include reference points in the image, such as doorways or people or something of a standard size. It helps if the picture is taken straight on with sufficient light.

Step 3: Brainstorm

Envision what you would like painted. Is it your logo or a sign you want to be painted? Do you want to change the background wall color? Do you want something abstract or realistic? I usually ask my clients to browse through Google Images or Pinterest and create a board or just screenshot a few images that inspire them. For example, if you want a mural of flowers painted in your office, I would ask you to search “floral murals” and then scroll through styles and ideas.

The images you send me don’t need to be exactly what you want painted. I usually take a few different images and put them together to create the final mural. However, the more images you show me, the more likely I am to create something that is just perfect for you.

These are the images that I used as inspiration for the bakery mural. Notice that they are not EXACTLY what we painted. This step of the process is just to start brainstorming and creating a rough plan for what we are working towards.

a black and white mural
an black and white abstract mural with a chair

Step 4: Communicate with your Muralist

Email or text all of this information to the potential mural painter. Describe some ideas of what you would like painted. You don’t need to be super specific, but you should give them a rough estimate of size and style. It helps if you let them know where the job site is located and when you need the project completed. For larger projects, an in-person consultation may be required so the muralist can see the wall and examine the work area.

If you have a budget, let them know that as well. I know it can be hard to discuss money, but it is easier for everyone if you take about it up front so that everyone is on the same page. Does the artist have a minimum price? Do you have a maximum amount you can spend? Is there a charge for sketches? I, personally, have a $750 minimum and the majority of my murals range between $1,000-3,000.

Step 5: The Muralist’s Proposal

The muralist will put together a proposal for you to look over. The proposal should include the scope of work, proposed timeline, and any information regarding insurance and payment. I prefer to include all paint and supplies in my price. I often do not include the cost of rentals, such as scissor lifts or scaffolding, because prices can vary. I prefer to give the client an estimate of that cost and present them with receipts upon completion of the project.

My proposals do not include sketches because I prefer to do most of my design work on site. I include images that I will use as inspiration and a rough idea of what the final mural will include. Other artists will charge a fee for design work and will present you with an image of exactly what the mural will look like.

Step 6: Compare your Mural Bids

Now you get to compare your bids and proposals and decide which artist you prefer. Cost is of course a factor, but the quality of work will be of the utmost importance. Make sure you go with the artist that you think you can best work with.  Designing and painting a work of art is a very personal experience. 

Make sure your artist is dependable! I can’t tell you how many projects I have completed because an artist disappeared halfway through the job.

Step 7: Sign Contracts and Set a Start Date

Sign any necessary contracts and pick a date to start. Most of my murals are completed within 1-3 days. It can be a very quick process. Usually, you will be asked to pay a deposit.

Step 8: The Painting Starts

This process will vary by the artist but this is how I do things. I show up at 9 AM and bring all of my supplies and paint. I am very flexible with paint colors because I mix the majority of my paints on site.

I like to talk with the client that morning and finalize any ideas I have. Then I draw the design on the wall in chalk. This is a great time to make any changes because the chalk is so easy to wipe off and redraw. Changes can also be made later on. It’s just paint! Nothing is set in stone with mural painting.

For the bakery project, the owner couldn’t be present so I had to draw these terrible sketches on my phone and text them to her. They were horrible but she could see the idea and said I was good to start. This is clearly where the trust part comes in. 🙂

the beginning of a mural
first steps of a mural being painted

Step 9: Now the fun part!

The painting begins. The artist will put down drop cloths and protect any surfaces. I use latex and acrylic paint, brushes, and rollers. Some artists use spray paint or other methods. Mainly, this is when you get to sit back and watch the magic happen. Most artists are happy for feedback, but just try not to be too picky. You don’t tell your hairdresser or lawyer or plumber how to do their job; you hire them for a reason, and that reason is that they are a trained professional. Trust that they know how to do their job well.

I tell my clients that every mural has an ugly moment. It’s usually about a quarter of the way through and it just looks heinous…but don’t worry. That moment passes and the outcome is usually pretty darn amazing. Most of my clients say that the murals I design are better than anything they could have imagined. Just check out my Yelp reviews and take a look at how awesome the mural at La Clochette turned out…way better than those horrible iPhone sketches.

If you’re inspired and ready to get a mural painted, contact me and we can talk about making some awesome art together.

johanna daly in front of one of her murals
La Clochette mural in San Diego
black and white mural in San Diego
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