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"That's gross, I love it." - April Ludgate

Chris Uphues Orlando Mural

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Why a mural?

My love of street art goes back to my first trip to Philadelphia around 2008/2009. That trip was the beginning of my fascination of what other cities had that Orlando was lacking in.  Beyond the culture, history, and amazing food; what struck me about Philly, cementing it as one of my favorite cities in the U.S., was the art. It was everywhere. From large street art in the form of murals, to what seemed like never-ending hallways within stunning art museums, to the famous Magic Gardens; every trip outside my brother’s Rittenhouse Square adjacent apartment was a feast for my eyes that had become so tired of flat land and lifeless vanilla strip malls.

Fast-forward ten years and Orlando has glimmers of beautiful art in certain nooks, thanks to local artists like Andrew Spears, Boy Kong, Earl Funk and more. However, I wanted more and I wanted to figure out how to make one happen. Sometimes it can feel like everyone is stuck in a rut of doing the same exact things, so I felt the need more than ever to try something new that I had never attempted before, nor did I know the proper process, so I could add to the city’s color even though I’m not an artist.

So I did what we all do in 2018. I slid into those DM’s.

Back in July of 2017 I responded to a story I saw that Chris Uphues was in Florida so I tested the waters with a friendly message.

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So how do you go about getting a rad mural created?

Step 1: Find a Wall

When I pitched the idea to my friends at The Naked Bar Soap Co. in College Park, we discussed how perfect the wall across the street at Infusion Tea would be. It was already white, it had decent visibility from Edgewater Drive, and as people stood in front of the wall to take pictures, they would be looking directly at their shop. It would liven up that area of Edgewater and become a traffic driver to the location and bring more awareness to the shops nearby. They had a business relationship with the owner of Infusion Tea and they pitched him the idea and the answer was yes.

Step 2: Find an Artist

I had been a fan of Chris Uphues long before anything regarding this mural was set into motion. While my DM wasn’t very specific and didn’t cement anything at first, it tested the waters to see if it was even in the realm of possibility, so once I secured a wall I could move forward and get into the nitty gritty of making it a reality. Of course DM’s became more professional emails back and forth over the course of about nine months.

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Step 3: Find Funding

Murals by professional artists are not cheap, so without the money, an idea can die really fast. Thankfully, my friends and I applied for two grants. A grant was applied for through the College Park Partnership which was generously granted by their Board. A second grant was then applied for from the Awesome Foundation.

These grants were absolutely vital to the project coming to fruition. Infusion Tea, the home of the mural, also contributed funding to our project, as well as myself and the Naked Bar Soap Co.

Step 4: Get the proper permitting

You definitely can’t just grab some paint and start a mural without getting the approval of the city you are in first. We reached out to the city planner for Orlando with a design already in hand from the artist for approval, and our first sketch got denied. There are several restrictions for murals that we were woefully not aware of, so do your research ahead of time. Other than our learning curve, the process with the city involved a little bit of paperwork and small processing fees that should not go ignored.

Step 5: Book it and hold your breath during hurricane season

Chris and Jen were such champs, dealing with our awful September heat, daily rain, pesky Florida bugs; but the mural took shape over the course of days bit by bit and it was such a cool experience seeing how it came alive from start to finish.

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

Day Glo paint who kindly sponsored Chris by providing their amazingly vibrant paints. The College Park Partnership and the Awesome Foundation whose grant money made this possible. Jen and Chris for answering my DM’s and being the kindest, most down-to-earth people to work with. Brad and his team at Infusion Tea for working with us, helping our artists, and letting us color your wall.

Lastly, my most personal and heartfelt thanks to Natasha Byrd-Gaylon and Jennifer Peets of Naked Bar Soap Co. You ladies are the definition of what it means to actually be a woman supporting another woman. I could not have done this alone, and it was such an honor to see how beautiful female entrepreneurship can be, and how when combined with lots of truth-telling and love every situation can be turned into a positive filled with laughter and sometimes a tear or two.

Enjoy this mural Orlando, but please patron the businesses surrounding it and support local.

All pictures were taken by me and should not be used in any digital or print publications without permission.

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