Choosing the right artist for your mural project is one of the most important steps of the process. One factor that needs to be determined by the community right away is to decide whether or not they prefer someone from their own community to be the chosen artist. You might also consider hiring an artist from outside your community if they will work with your youth. You might also hire a lead artist from outside the community while also hiring assistant artists from within the community.
Your budget might also determine which artist is chosen. Perhaps you want to give a young artist from your own community a chance even if they’ve not painted a mural before? Perhaps someone in the community already knows a muralist? Depending on the size of the community that you live in, sometimes it could be easy to find an experienced community-artist and sometimes it could be difficult. Make sure that you allow time in the whole time-line to find the right artist for your intentions.
ARTIST CALLS – RFQ vs RFP
If you don’t already have an artist in mind, you could send out a call for interested artists which is either an RFQ (request for qualifications) or an RFP (request for proposals). You can find an example of these on communitymurals.info as well as doing a search on your favorite search engine.
The limitation for an RFP is that you may get fewer responses since there is no stipend for the work upfront. It also means you will need to have an accurate list of what the community has decided to include for subject matter and style preferences in the RFQ to get relevant designs.
For an RFQ, you ask the applicants to provide images of previous mural. In addition to requesting to see images of past work, you can also require them to write about why they wish to be a part of your project. You can also specify your preference for where the artist is from – perhaps they already live in your community or perhaps it is an artist who has moved but is willing to come back for the mural? Keep in mind that bringing an artist back to your community might require paying for travel.
In addition to posting your RFQ to your social media accounts, community art centers and arts organizations are a good place to send the word out to artists. You could also post it in your local magazines and newspapers, colleges and galleries. For RFQs, allow a long enough period of time for artists to respond, one to two months is a good amount a time. A multi-pronged approach is the best to get a good number of applications from artists.
COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES
Some colleges and universities have service-learning components in their curriculum so if you have a small budget, you may want to consider contacting them and perhaps a design or art class can help. While a design student might not have experience in painting, if your community intends on painting, this could be a great solution for a good design. This method requires contacting faculty at least a semester in advance. A few art schools also have community based programs.
STYLE OF ARTIST
Some artists are unwilling or unable to change their style so be mindful of whom you choose for the project. For example, if you wish for the community to be painted by community members or all ages and abilities, this type of mural requires simplicity and clarity and the design is essentially a giant fillable coloring book page. This means that the design is placed on the wall usually in outline form and a printed color guide has been given to community members. This allows community members of all ages and abilities to paint on during community paint days. Make sure that the artist you choose understands this before they begin the design project. While a coloring book can definitely have a specific style involved, in the end they do not rely on painting techniques for the aesthetic – it has to be built into the actual drawing/design.
Its a good idea to have a community to decide the style of the mural ahead of time to help in the process of choosing the artist. This will be impacted by the type of mural collaboration you intend. Keep in mind that the more the community participates in the actual painting processes, the simpler the design should probably be.
If you choose an artist based strongly on their aesthetic, that probably means that the artist is going to be painting all or most of the final product. If the mural is to be painted by the community, then it is not the final aesthetic but instead the experience of a community painting together that should to be taken into consideration.
If you like a mural in a community you could contact the building owner to obtain contact info for the artist. Artists will usually sign their work so that’s another way to discover who the artist is.
The scale of the project might impact to you choose to be the artist. For example, if you have a very big project that the community will assist in painting, you may want to work with a more experienced community muralist.
If an artist has never participated in community paint days or organized paint days that is something that they will need to be attentive to. Please see the list of materials needed for community paint days in this guide.
WHAT TO DECIDE:
Preference for artist from within or outside our neighborhood?
Do we already have a list of possible muralists?
Should we use an RFP or RFQ?
Who will write it?
OR should we contact a college or university art/design program?
Who will contact them?