Tuesday, January 8, 2019

In Which I Paint Giant Books

I think the best part of life is when your favorite things combine. I love art. I love books. 
I painted a mural at a local indie bookstore. Prior to the mural, it was a white cinder block building on the side of a major road. So for a period, people thought the books within the walls were not of genres like mystery or history. Or people thought books weren’t inside at all. Having a mural with titles like The Hate U Give and Dread Nation makes it obvious what type of store it isn’t. (Also, if you haven't read those books, go get them!).
One day someone sent the bookstore a picture of a giant book mural, and a different girl painted a few titles near the logo. I eventually took over. 
For the past two years I’ve worked on painting the mural. I worked on it during the summer, sometimes sporadically, other times daily. 
And I finished it before I left for Breyerfest 2018. I think the last book was finished in late June or early July. (I didn’t get a chance to take pictures with it until the fall!)
There’s a mix of titles. Some are classics, but the majority of the books are local authors. The rest are books that the bookstore owner and myself love whether they were sleepers or widely acclaimed. 
I free handed each one I painted. The bookstore owner’s husband would paint the block color and I would go back and decorate it. Sometimes I'd add enough colors that it no longer resembled the orignal block. 
I started each book by thinking up what object might mesh well with the book. From there I would count how many letters and spaces were in the title and compare it with how many bricks the painted block took up.
I’d draw out a design, take out the 18 foot or 8 foot ladder, pencil, and sharper. Then I drew it out onto the brick. Some days my eyes and hands cooperated and it came out exactly right. Other days I couldn’t paint a straight line. 
But eventually, the whole side of the building was filled with a colorful array of giant books. 
I love it. It’s also a display of my improvement. The more spines I painted the better they got
There was a big unveling for the finished mural. The date got switched so I wasn’t actually there for the official unveiling since I was at Breyerfest.
Photo Credit- Harrison Merkt
The authors that attended took pictures next to their books. Tears were shed. 
Photo Credit Harrison Merkt

When I returned home from Breyerfest, I had a card waiting for me signed by all of the local authors. I had some tears at that too. Publishing is a hard business for writers, and it was nice to recognize some for the talent that lives near me. 
The store has two more sides that face the road. I started on the front of it in late summer. My favorite thing about the whole ordeal is how many people like it. Putting your art out into the world is a nerve wracking experience. You never know how people will respond to it. This has been well received and I’ve helped dreams come true. The fear of the unknown can’t touch that.  


  1. As an avid reader myself, I thoroughly enjoyed this post, and as a teacher, I am so glad you have enticed kiddos (and adults) to read a new book or two. Congratulations - what an accomplishment!

  2. This is a super response blog post to a comment...! I often forget how daring it is to publish or to put out public art. Congratulations all over again. "Off to buy more books"

  3. As a book lover and as an artist I can wholly appreciate what a wonderful labor of love you have created. Congratulations on a beautiful job, well done!