Tor.Com’s Irene Gallo recently posted a fascinating article about how one would go about painting a giant mural on a 150 foot building having been inspired to find out how it was done after constantly passing the movie posters on 315 Park Avenue South in New York.
Because the location lies between her home and the Tor offices, she has witnessed murals being emblazed on the giant wall for the best part of two decades, was always intrigued by the process and decided to find out how it was done.
So she spoke to Dan Cohen, who is one of principle painters that are responsible for creating the giant murals on what is one of the few remaining places where advertisements are painted and not digitally reproduced.
Cohen works for Art FX Murals, at the illustration Master Class and went through the process with Gallo. At the time of the interview, Cohen was working on painting a gigantic batman on the 150 building, the movie poster for the eagerly awaited The Dark Knight Rises.
According to Cohen, the process of creating a mural has remained largely the same as it always has been. A life-sized rendition of the artwork is constructed in a simple outline which is called a ‘cartoon’. Holes are then punched through this outline and it is then traced over with a charcoal pounce. Through this process the basic shapes and proportions of the image are mapped over the wall.
The oil-based paint is mixed to match the larger sections of the painting and the more detailed blending and mixing is left to the individual painters working on those particular segments. Each painter has a print out of their section of the design attached to their arm which guides them while they transfer the image to the wall.
According to Gallo’s article it took a team of four painting from dawn until dusk for 5 days to complete this spectacular poster for The Dark Knight Rises. According to Gallo’s interview, painting sci-fi, superhero and fantasy murals are Cohen’s favorite movie genres and he particularly enjoyed recreating the posters for “Clash of the Titans, Inception, Wrath of the Titans, Terminator, Iron Man, Transformers and Spider-Man 2.”
Another interesting fact from Gallo’s interview, the movie star that Cohen has painted most frequently is… Johnny Depp!
Apparently the mural is repainted every 6-8 weeks and like Gallo, I did wonder how it must feel for artist to paint over a masterpiece like that, however Cohen said that he has become quite used to the feeling now. He told Gallo; “After so many years it doesn’t affect me anymore. Plus, it’s a great way to get over the preciousness of my work!”
Creating a mural like this sounds like a totally amazing process and I completely agree with Gallo when she said: “In an age where nearly all of signage is done through digital applications, it’s a pleasure to see artisans at work.”