The ADPRO Mural

"Is that it? If you allow me, I can do so much better -and it will not cost you an extra dime."

-John Rivera-Resto to a "decorator"
consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. -oscar wilde

The ADPRO mural

This 10' x 22' mural was done for Adpro, a small company in Solon, Ohio specialized in customized packaging. They had just moved into their beautiful new building and had good walls for art. A decorator called me for a meeting to at the site where I met with her and the owner of the company. The company was big into green eco-friendly themes and they wanted a mural to reflect this philosophy. The client was the nicest person you can imagine, but the decorator was another type of person -the one who knows exactly what they want, but can't give you a precise description. These types of "visionaries" are a pain in the ass to work with and this job cured me from ever trying to do so again.

the adpro mural, goose detail At the center of the composition was a picnic table where people could sit and enjoy the view. At the moment, only a Canada goose was taking advantage of the scene.

So what is wrong with "visionary decorators?" Nothing is wrong as long as they know what they are doing or what they want. The problem is that some decorators could never make it as an artist, so they named themselves decorators and conducted business as such. They are good at selling themselves and then rely on true artists to "bring their vision to life". Personally, I could care less about who or what they are as long as I can do my thing, get paid, and get out as soon as possible. Everyone is happy. But the minute a decorator begins to put restrictions on your work or how you do your work because they "know" how to make it better, you know you have "left Kansas" for La-la land.

At first this seemed like a "walk in the park" kind of job. Solon was a pleasant 30-minute drive from my home and I could work undistubed during the evening hours. The mural was to be painted directly on the wall using artist's acrylic paints. The simple design consists of a nature scene with a picnic table overlooking a river. The surrounding area was populated with the wildlife you would see in Ohio -deer, foxes, owls, racoon, geese, ducks, cardinals and other birds (at least one of each). So, I made a detail pencil drawing, this was approved by the client, and I started the job.

the cleveland public theatre View of the mural area. This space was mainly used for meeting clients or siting down for a restful lunch.

The mural was designed to complement and define a specific area. Furnished with wooden benches, a swing seat suspended from the high ceiling, and a conference table for meetings with clients, the ensemble created a very lovely, peaceful and serene environment that perfectly suited the company's green philosophy. But problems began to erode the edges of this commission when the decorator began to insist on this type of green color over that other type, where to place each animal and tree, how the clouds should look, and a great deal of changes to compositional details that could only be described as unimformed and idiotic (I am being kind here).

She insisted on a "formula" that "worked" before on another (totally different) job -so why change what works? But then it got worse. She started to be "hit with inspiration" on a daily basis and I wanted to "hit her over the head" with equal measure. But I kept my cool, I finished the job, there was an evening party, the client was happy, but I knew the job could have been so much better. Instead of generic it could have been inspirational, gorgeous and unique -all for the same cost. Instead they got exactly what the decorator wanted -a mediocre piece. Fool me once. Since, I have never accepted any job with the same dynamics. No amount of money is worth the aggravation. Words to live by.

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